Why Directing 'Selma' Was So Personal For Ava DuVernay (VIDEO)

Why Directing 'Selma' Was So Personal For Ava DuVernay

Nearly 50 years before Ava DuVernay directed the film "Selma," her father, Murray, was watching the real story unfold. Murray lived in Montgomery during Dr. Martin Luther King's five-day march from Selma to Montgomery. In the above clip from "Oprah Prime," DuVernay reflects on what it was like to recreate such a historic event which her own father had lived through-- something Oprah calls "a full-circle moment" for the director and her family.

DuVernay, the first African-American female director to be nominated for a Golden Globe, says filming those scenes hit home the most. "Everyone I love the most is in Montgomery," she says. "It was really my dad, having grown up there during the time of the events that we depict in the film, and just knowing a lot of the pain that he has around that and our family history around that time."

DuVernay says that her father's visit to the set of "Selma" on the streets of Montgomery marked a poignant and powerful moment for him.

"For him to get off of his night shift and drive into downtown Montgomery, and police officers are escorting him in to the set, which is the state capitol steps..." she says.

"Could he believe it?" Oprah asks.

"No," DuVernay responds. "He just steps into downtown Montgomery, which has been transformed into 1965."

Though the visit may have reminded her father of the turmoil and toxicity he experienced in the past, it also sparked pride -- and awe at the stark difference between then and now.

"To see his daughter, a black woman, say, 'Cut!' and everyone stops. And, 'Action!' and everyone starts," DuVernay says. "He's talked to me about how big a moment that was for him."

"Because that is your baby girl up there," Oprah says.

"Because your baby girl's up there doing it," DuVernay says with a smile.

Related: Ava DuVernay explains her two goals for directing the film.

The movie Selma opens in theaters nationwide on Friday, January 9.

Before You Go

AFI FEST 2014 Presented By Audi "Selma" First Look - Red Carpet

"Selma" Premiere

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