Ava DuVernay says she teamed up with “like-minded” people to get new film ‘Origin’ made

ABC/Heidi Gutman

Ava DuVernay says if she had gone the “traditional route” with trying to bring to life her new film, Origin, the filmmaking process would’ve been tough. 

The award-winning director told Good Morning America‘s Robin Roberts that because of the content of the movie — a portrayal of Isabel Wilkerson‘s seminal book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, which describes racism in the United States as an aspect of a caste system — she went to philanthropists for financial assistance, not big studios. 

“I knew that … I would get no’s from the studios because it’s not the usual studio fare and that’s fine,” DuVernay said. “So we just didn’t go that way. We reached out to people who are like-minded, who are interested in making things about justice and dignity and legacy in history.”

The When They See Us producer said she sought out nonprofit organizations like the Ford Foundation, Pivotal and Emerson. “And we held hands with them, and they actually financed this film,” she said. 

DuVernay added, “I was not going to take no for an answer. … It just it goes to show that there are ways outside of the traditional ways, the traditional structures. Whatever it is you’re doing, a movie or otherwise, find your own way.”

As for her hope for the film, which stars Aunjanue EllisJon BernthalNiecy Nash-BettsVera Farmiga and Audra McDonald: “I want the film to change your mind about the way you see yourself and your place in the world,” DuVernay said.

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