Ava DuVernay: "We Have to Deconstruct Our Heroes"

While appearing on "The Daily Show," Ava DuVernay says of Selma,

We don't paint anyone as a saint in this [movie] and we don't paint anyone as a sinner. . . We are looking at them as human beings, as living breathing human beings . . . We really have to deconstruct our heroes, these myths that make us feel warm and fuzzy, we gotta challenge that and push that a little bit and there's nothing wrong with that . . .

Ava's remarks and deliberate intention to portray the humanity of the individuals in Selma is one of the main reasons why only saying "we love her work", just doesn't cut it. Ava has moved us, and like great directors encouraged us to step out of our comfort zone.

When we have heroes and people we look up to it becomes instinctive to place them on a pedestal and shower them with praise and love without truly knowing them. Yet, in Selma Ava pushes to show the essence of humanity, and while the movie couldn't and didn't touch on everything, we are thankful for the treasure in the film.

It is not easy to direct a movie featuring an exceptional man and the great team of leaders he had in his corner, and yet DuVernay does so with much grace and talent. In her many interviews we have learned that almost everything she did concerning this movie was well thought out and purposeful--including the changes she made within herself. By deconstructing her own "compartmentalized" ideas about King, Ava was able to see that MLK Jr. was a "prankster, he was guilty, he had ego, he was like me, he was like you . . . he was just a brother from Atlanta who got swept up in history."

Ultimately, Ava keeps giving us more reasons to love who she is as a director and a woman.

Watch her appearance

Randie Henderson is a Gates Millennium Scholar and recent college grad. She is driven to write, read, learn, and educate about ways to dismantle oppression in America and globally because she is passionate about people and justice. You can find her on


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