Renowned director and screenwriter Ava DuVernay has had an especially successful career.
After opening her own publicity firm at 27, DuVernay switched paths seven years later to become a filmmaker — and a highly accomplished one at that. She wrote and directed the major motion picture, Selma, that showed in theaters around the world and screened at the White House for President Obama and the First Lady. DuVernay has also done a lot for other African Americans and women in the industry as a film distributor, under her company ARRAY.
"I wouldn't have had the opportunity to do any of that if officers had tased me, then [did] a takedown move and forced me on the pavement, placed a knee on my back, handcuffed me," DuVernay said in a new video series, #MyLifeMatters, aimed at raising awareness about police brutality.
She was retelling the story of Tanisha Anderson's death at the hands of the police last year. "And when I went unconscious," DuVernay continued, "[the police] stood by and watched me die for 20 minutes until the ambulance came — like they did to Tanisha Anderson. Tanisha Anderson's life mattered just like my life matters."
The video series is part of a larger movement to spread the message about "Black Lives Matter," a term that some conservatives take issue with. #MyLifeMatters features prominent African Americans in the entertainment industry, listing the successes in their lives that they never could have had if their lives had been taken in the ways that victims of police brutality have.
Creed director Ryan Coogle, rapper Common and actor David Oyelowo are among those in the first three videos released.