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From Queen Sugar to When They See Us, visionary Ava DuVernay has used her craft and creativity to bring poignant, multi-dimensional stories to the forefront, and the California native will be honored for her work. According to Variety, she will receive the inaugural Melvin Van Peebles Trailblazer Award at the Critics Choice Association’s Celebration of Black Cinema & Television.

The accolade was created to pay homage to the impact and influence of Van Peebles who instrumentally shaped the landscape of the film industry and broke barriers for generations of Black and Brown filmmakers. The award is a nod to those who use their artistry to uphold the legacy of excellence he left within the space.

Whether it’s exploring the coming of age story of an athlete-turned-activist or chronicling the experiences of a family running a sugar cane farm in Louisiana, the award-winning writer, producer and director has been dedicated to amplifying the narratives of underrepresented communities and illuminating different stories that are embedded in the fabric of the Black experience.

In an interview with Refinery29, DuVernay shared that she hopes her path in the entertainment industry can inspire others.

“For me to pick up a camera as a Black woman who did not go to film school—this is a testament to whatever path you’re on right now is not necessarily the path you have to stay on,” she said. “If you’re on a path that’s not the one that you want to be on, you can also pivot, and you can also move, and age doesn’t make a difference, race, gender. It’s about putting one step in front of another, about forward movement to where you wanna be.”

The awards ceremony is slated to take place on December 6. Other awardees include Will Smith, Kenan Thompson and Natasha Rothwell.


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