Inspirational Women – Ava Duvernay and Soledad O’Brien

While I was at the Blogher conference I had the pleasure of hearing Soledad O’Brien and Ava Duvernay speak.  I was blown away by both of them.  We often hear the tales of inspirational people and what they do to make Sometimes when we hear those stories on TV or magazines we are touched but it seems distant.  Being in the same personal space with these women their stores came to life.  You could feel the actual goodness move through the room.

Starfish foundation
Starfish foundation

First up was Soledad O’Brien, she is what we like to call a “cool mom”.  She is the type of mother that sets an example for not only her children but for children all over the world to look at, improve upon, follow, or just be proud of.  Today she sat down to talk about her Starfish foundation.  Her foundation pays for girls to go to college who do not have the means to fund their education.  She started her foundation right after Hurricane Katrina as her way of “doing something”.  She mentioned that her part was easy, all she had to do was write the check.  In actuality, if you have the money to do so then yes, that is the easy part. Deciding to be an agent for good is noble.  Actually being that agent for good is hard.  When you enter philanthropy you have to realize that so many request will come your way and you can’t honor them all.  The Starfish foundation will never be able to satisfy all the need for tuition around the US.  They will never be able to educate whole communities, and through their good raise leaders that will go and give back.  What Soledad did was focus on what she could do.  She could help one, and that one made a difference.  Then she would help another and that one made a difference.  She did the hard thing of focusing on what she could do, and not what she couldn’t.

Soledad O'Brien with her children.
Soledad O’Brien with her children.

The next day Ava Duvernay spoke.

The amazing Ava Duvernay
The amazing Ava Duvernay

Ms. Duvernay told us of the difficulties of being a woman in Hollywood and if you are a woman of color it’s almost better not to quit your day job.  She spoke about her struggles with her damn near perfect body of work that is Selma and how if it wasn’t for the belief in her of one of the actors she would have never, ever, gotten the call to direct.  Ava shared some wisdom from Oprah that helped her when she was struggling with her vision and the credit she received for Selma.  In a nutshell Oprah said, if you have achieved your end result, then you win.  You have accomplished your goal.  Everything else is small fries.  She believed that she was going to be a great director and she took that leap of faith to do so.  She is proof that if you believe strongly enough in something work for it, and you will get it.  She also spoke about not taking a huge job because it would take away from her being able to work on the projects that really stir her soul.  I don’t know how many of us no matter how much we believed in something, would turn down a lucrative, life changing deal to follow our conscious.  Now, that is inspirational!  I am also very happy to say that while she was talking I just smiled with pride to know that she is an Alpha Kappa Alpha woman.  She is my soror, and by the end of the interview I felt like we were homies.  Ava Duvernay is a very down to earth person who just happens to be really freaking special.

Ms. Ava & Oprah
Ms. Ava & Oprah

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