Ava Duvernay, Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, Origin, film, movie, praise

Ava DuVernay Sings Lead ‘Origin’ Actress Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor’s Praises

DuVernay called out the movie industry for not giving Aunjanue all the flowers that she deserves.

When They See Us director Ava DuVernay praised her lead actress Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor’s passion and marketing while starring in her film Origin. In an Instagram video posted Jan 10, DuVernay expressed her disappointment in the lack of recognition Ellis-Taylor received in the industry. 

In the Instagram video, Ellis-Taylor was shown handing out flyers for Origin while at a Los Angeles AMC movie theater last week. DuVernay wrote in the caption how emotional the clip made her, as it occurred on the same day as the Golden Globes, where the film was not nominated, despite receiving critical acclaim.

She wrote, “Someone posted this footage, and I burst into tears. This was apparently taken last Sunday, Golden Globes day. This is a video of Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor. Our lead actress in ‘Origin.’ She wasn’t nominated that day,” 

“She was handing out postcards for our film at a local AMC in LA to passersby. She had told me that she wanted to remind herself about what matters. That she wanted to invite people to see our work, and that she would stay low profile, keep on her mask. That it wasn’t about her but about the movie. Someone noticed her. And recorded her. And now I see this – and my heart aches.”

DuVernay continued in the heartfelt caption, “I wish she didn’t have to do this to remind herself. I wish she was at the Globes, SAG Awards, Critics Choice, or the other nominations that didn’t come. I wish she had commercials and magazine covers and all the things that are arranged for the actresses we are supposed to pay attention to in the awards season. I wish she felt the recognition and praise that swirls around her peers in big studio films. I wish the world for her. All the flowers. All the gold statues. I wish so many things.”

The 51-year-old activist, writer, and director shared her appreciation for Ellis-Taylor’s strength and heart, “But in this video, she reminds me to move from wishing to what matters. And what matters is WHY WE MADE THIS FILM and WHY WE DO THIS WORK. For people. To be in community with others. To reach for someone else’s hand and recognize oneself. To tell stories of human dignity and justice. Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, standing out on a windy day, passing out flyers for our film, I see you. Your brave heart. Your singular way of moving through the world. You are the definition of Best Lead Actress. You lead me away from wishing for things not meant to be. To focus on the beauty of what matters and what is.”

Ava DuVernay’s Origin is set to premiere on Jan 19 in theaters after debuting at the Venice Film Festival. It’s an adaptation of Isabel Wilkerson’s 2020 nonfiction novel, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents.