Ava Duvernay loves looking up random houses on Zillow


Ava Duvernay is promoting her Netflix series, Colin in Black and White, about Colin Kapernick’s journey. Earlier this year, Ava launched the Array Crew database which hopes to bring more BIPOC into the film industry. Ava’s Array Now distribution company also purchased the rights to several foreign films and has partnered with Spotify to produce podcasts. But Ava is not always work and no play. In a new profile on The Cut, Ava revealed a quirky habit that she has while writing. Ava said that she takes one minute breaks when writing to peruse Zillow in random zip codes and cities. Ava explained that she wants to see what people are doing in random places like Nebraska. A few highlights:

On her writing process:
My least favorite part of my job — and I’m grateful to be able to do it — is writing. I have to write almost every day, and it’s hard for me. There are a lot of writers who love to write: They wake up writing, the joy of writing, the written word … no, not for me. I can do it, but I’m mad that I have to sit and do it. I’m grateful that it flows when I sit down. My big thing when it comes to writing is procrastination. I will wait until the last minute, and I’ve convinced myself that procrastination is a beautiful part of the process. I spend about an hour a day, in different little one-minute increments, on Zillow. If someone tracked my phone, they would see: Wow, she’s on Zillow. I’m not looking for anything. I’m just like, Hey, I want to see what people are doing in Nebraska. Let me find a Zip code and get in their house. That’s literally my pastime. It’s ridiculous.

On redefining “self-care”:
I used to say that I was not good at self-care. But over the summer someone said something to me that really resonated: Self-care is inclusive of the people that you put around you. So when I say I’m not good at self-care, I’m thinking of massages and time by the pool. But that’s not really self-care, that’s relaxation. Self-care is: How do you care for yourself each day? And a big part of that is: Who do you allow to be around you, and who are you putting yourself around? When I think of it that way, I am great at self-care. I’ve been able to hand-pick everyone who works with me and everyone who I work with — what a fortunate position. So I’ve turned from being someone who said I was bad at self-care to saying I’m the queen of self-care.

On the lesson on criticism she got from Oprah:
I used to take criticism really, really hard. I think Oprah helped me with it best. I was taking a movie review really hard, and she said, “Do you know them? Do you know this person?” I said no, and she was like, “So why do you care so much?” And that really helped me understand that I was putting my sense of achievement, my sense of personhood, in someone else’s hands. I had to do a lot of work to untangle that for myself. I had to figure out why I was looking outside myself to feel good. It takes time. It’s an ongoing process. No, one’s 100 percent there — well, I won’t say no one is. Oprah is. But it takes practice, and I’ve gotten a lot better at it. I don’t even read [criticism]; I don’t even listen to it. If I open up Twitter at any given moment, someone is calling me some awful thing. It gets to a point where I don’t even see it anymore because it doesn’t matter to me.

[From The Cut]

Ava Duvernay’s quirky browsing habits are relatable because I do the same. I spend like 30 minutes looking at the cost of homes in small mountain cities near lakes. It is how I dream. I already loved Ava but reading this bit about her made me love her more. I also liked when Ava explained how Oprah helped her get over caring about reviews and what people think of her. It has taken me many years to get past this in my life. It is the most freeing thing once you adopt an unbossed and unbothered attitude.

I also agree with Ava about self-care. Self-care really is about the space you give yourself. AND self-care is also about the people you have around you. In the last three years, I have become selective about the people I have in my life. I stay away from people who purposely misunderstand me and are argumentative and easily offended. Being around people who are collaborative yet give me space has definitely enhanced my life. I am looking forward to watching Colin in Black and White and catching up on this season of Queen Sugar. In the meantime, I am going to sign up for the Array Crew database. As a still photographer who has always wanted to be in the film industry, I think it is time to finally pursue this dream.

Photos credit: Avalon.red

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