Ava DuVernay Receives Honorary Doctorate from Yale—and Yes, Her Mom Is Now Calling Her 'Dr. DuVernay'

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 In this screengrab, Ava DuVernay speaks during the 3rd Annual CARE Impact Awards on November 18, 2020.
In this screengrab, Ava DuVernay speaks during the 3rd Annual CARE Impact Awards on November 18, 2020.

Acclaimed filmmaker Ava DuVernay once helmed a film about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.—and now she can add a similar honorific to her name. Esteemed Ivy League institution Yale University recently named this year’s honorary doctorate degree recipients and Ava is one of them!

The award-winning director (Selma, 13th, When They See Us) has now also been awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree.

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“Creator and critic, you portray the richness and variety of human experience from all angles,” Yale’s statement in tribute to Ava read. “By elevating others, you bring new stories into focus and amplify voices we need to hear. Hollywood maverick, for challenging us to reckon with our past and our present, and for working to change both an industry and society, Yale is pleased to confer on you this Doctor of Fine Arts degree.”

Per Yale’s official website:

The tradition of awarding honorary degrees at Yale began in 1702. Conferred by the university’s board of trustees, these degrees recognize pioneering achievement or exemplary contribution to the common good. Recipients, by their example, encourage the graduates to aspire to excellence and to value creativity, curiosity, discipline, integrity, and a passion for public service.

“My thanks to the special committee at @Yale for this honor,” Ava tweeted on Monday morning, including a selfie as she held her new degree in her hands. “My mom is over the moon and has taken to calling me Dr. DuVernay. Hope that wears off. But the joy of your high regard will not. A thrill to share this with the formidable Class of 2021 and my esteemed fellow honorees.”

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Though Ava is of course very humbled by the designation, we love the Black mama energy of her mom referring to her as “Dr. DuVernay!” So cute! Congrats to Dr. Director DuVernay!

You can check out Yale University president Peter Salovey’s conferral of honorary degrees below:


Yale 2021: President’s Conferral of Honorary Degrees / Yale University (YouTube)