Ava DuVernay talks 'Origin,' storytelling with investigative journalists

The writer/director spoke at the Investigative Reporters and Editors Conference in Anaheim

ByGina Sirico OTRC logo
Monday, June 24, 2024
Ava DuVernay talks 'Origin,' storytelling with journalists
Writer/Director Ava DuVernay talks about her film "Origin" and the importance of truth-telling with investigative journalists. "Origin" is streaming on Hulu.

ANAHEIM, CA -- She's an Emmy-winning, Oscar-nominated writer and director. When she talks, people listen.

And this weekend, investigative journalists were all ears as Ava DuVernay took part in the Investigative Reporters and Editors Conference in Anaheim. She sat down with former Los Angeles Times executive editor Kevin Merida for an all-encompassing conversation on storytelling and seeking the truth.

"I'm just thrilled to be here with a group of people who dedicate their lives to truth telling," DuVernay told On The Red Carpet before taking the stage.

"These folks are an inspiration to me because this is the hard work. It's not just taking facts at face value," DuVernay continued. "There's so much misinformation and so much noise. But storytelling in the form of journalism, long form journalism or something that's packaged quickly grabs people's attention is very exciting to me and vital in these times."

DuVernay's latest film "Origin," tells the story of real-life journalist Isabel Wilkerson, who wrote the best-selling book "Caste: The Origins of our Discontents." The movie shows Wilkerson as she travels the world to research caste systems.

"For me, thinking of how to put that into a narrative film, I knew there had to be a main character to take audiences through that journey and I decided that the main character would be her," DuVernay said of Wilkerson's story. "To be able to share it here with folks that do this work in terms of investigative journalism and fact finding and storytelling is very special."

DuVernay, who did not go to film school and is self-taught, told the audience about her process. She said she poured her whole heart into the pages of "Origin," she became each character as she was writing them. She never shoots anything she doesn't love. If she isn't excited to shoot a scene, she cuts it. She said she learned a lot about herself while filming "Origin" and encouraged the journalists in the room to look for the lessons in their own work. And she talked about the tenacity it takes to tell important stories. She revealed there were a lot of naysayers when it came to filming "Origin." But she did not give up.

"If someone is saying no, or someone is stopping you, it's for a reason, but for their benefit and not yours. So know that and keep going."

"Origin" is streaming now on Hulu.