Ava DuVernay, Zendaya Discuss the Importance of Black People Telling Their Stories - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise magazine Fall 2019 issue

Recently, at the Dream in Black invite-only brunch hosted by AT&T during the 25th Annual Essence Festival, Ava DuVernay shared her thoughts on why it’s important for her to create and tell Black stories.

“I like to deal with new words, like ‘diversity’ I don’t use anymore, ‘inclusion’ I was on last year, now I’m on ‘belonging.’ We don’t want just a seat at the table, we want to run the tables as well. We also have to keep pushing forward,” said Duvernay.

DuVernay is known for her extraordinary work as a director of the hit film, “When They See Us,” which tells the story of the “Exonerated Five”, formerly known as the “Central Park Five.”

Also in attendance was actress Zendaya, Entertainment Tonight correspondent Nischelle Turner, and AT&T Communications CEO John Donovan, as well as other AT&T executives, who sat down to have a candid conversation about the Dream in Black mindset, and why it’s important for people to boldly follow their passion and share it with the world.

“Trying our best in many different ways and many different forms, as an actress I have to do my part to tell different stories especially from my viewpoint as a black woman and I think that’s so special and this is what each of us has the power to do in our creative field,” said Zendaya.

“It can’t always be a dream, it has to be a reality and sometimes it has to start that way, but being here amongst people who are making literal dreams a reality and people I look up to and people I can watch every single day turn what we see in our heads to real things is incredible and a little bit of a dream, ” the actress continued. “When you live in this world of being able to be surrounded by people with visions and ideas and also that want to support you and help you, I think it’s incredible and will only allow us to continue to do beautiful things.”

The Euphoria star also personally met with ESSENCE Girls United, which is a program that provides young African American girls with the opportunity to succeed in lifestyle, career, education, and community. Essence launched the initiative to inspire young African American women to become the leaders of the future in core pillars that include leadership and self-love.

ava duvernay

Zendaya and Girls United (Image: Travis Ellison)

AT&T Communications CEO John Donovan expressed his sentiments on the significance of making sure brands are an extension of the consumer. “There’s an expectation from employees and customers that you speak out on what your values are about as a company,” said Donovan. “People want to see themselves in that company or brand. I think that ensures that you’ll be successful in doing the right thing. You can’t be false; you have to be genuine. There’s nothing like being at Essence Festival. There aren’t a lot of places where you can have this type of learning experience and human experience.”