Entertainment Movies Ava DuVernay: The Lack of Directors Who Are Women and People of Color Is 'Intentional' Oscar-nominated director Ava DuVernay, one of People's 25 Women Changing the World, calls out discriminatory hiring practices in Hollywood By Janine Rubenstein Janine Rubenstein Instagram Twitter Janine Rubenstein is Editor-at-Large at PEOPLE and host of PEOPLE Every Day podcast, a daily dose of breaking news, pop culture and heartwarming human interest stories. Formerly Senior Editor of music content, she's also covered crime, human interest and television news throughout her many years with the brand. Prior to PEOPLE she's written for Essence, The Cape Times newspaper and Los Angeles Magazine among others. On-screen Rubenstein can be found featured on shows like Good Morning America and Entertainment Tonight and she routinely hosts PEOPLE and Entertainment Weekly's star-studded Red Carpet Live specials. Follow the San Francisco native, Black Barbie collector and proud mom of two on Instagram and Twitter @janinerube People Editorial Guidelines Published on November 3, 2017 01:27 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: Christopher Patey/Getty Ava DuVernay rejects the Hollywood status quo — and as a result, she has broken major barriers for women in the industry. Last year, the Oscar-nominated director was tapped to helm Disney’s A Wrinkle In Time, making her the first black female director to lead a $100 million film. “Disney allowed me to open my imagination,” DuVernay, 45, says of the upcoming adaptation of the popular children’s sci-fi novel that is starring Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling. “They believed in my vision in a way that was so nourishing to me as a filmmaker. It’s very rare to come across that.” That support is scarce for many of her directing peers. DuVernay, named one of PEOPLE’s 25 Women Changing the World in this week’s issue for her efforts to increase diversity in entertainment, feels strongly that the gender and racial disparity in Hollywood isn’t accidental. From Gal Gadot to Real Life Wonder Women: Meet PEOPLE’s 25 Women Changing the World “I would say that it’s quite intentional,” says DuVernay of Hollywood hiring practices. “You’re basically saying, ‘This is what we want, and this is what we’re going to have.’ There’s no way you can tell me that there hasn’t been effort put into exclusion.” DuVernay, who made the transition from publicist to indie filmmaker, created the organization Array Now in 2010, which helps find and fund promising films by minority directors. “I wanted to make films about the interiority of women of color, people of color, and I knew there wasn’t a large market out in the studio system for those kinds of films, so I decided to just distribute on my own. It started as a function of survival.” To date, Array Now has released 18 works by independent filmmakers. “I just finance it from my directing money and from donations from those who believe in inclusive film,” she says. DuVernay says it’s about much more than just entertaining audiences. “What you see you become, what you see increases your knowledge about the world and your place in it,” says the filmmaker, who makes it a point to show films in economically depressed communities that lack movie theaters. “It’s imperative to equalize the playing field.” On her hit OWN Network drama Queen Sugar, now in its second season, DuVernay has employed all female directors. “It’s not hard, it just takes intention,” she says. “I’ve heard some people say it’s reverse discrimination, but I can barely fix my mouth to answer a statement as ignorant as that. We’re trying to correct, lead by example. It’s an act of resistance.” For more on the 25 Women Changing the World, pick up this week’s issue, on newsstands now.