Ava DuVernay takes over ‘TIME’ as guest editor and features Cicely Tyson, Laverne Cox and Lena Waithe

All three of these trailblazing women dropped knowledge in this month's issue.

Ava DuVernay
(Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)

We already know Ava DuVernay is a trailblazer, carving out a path as an incredible director, content creator, and activist and now she has taken her talents to TIME Magazine. The Queen Sugar creator served as guest editor for this month’s issue that’s all about the “Art of Optimism” and features Lena Waithe, Laverne Cox and Cicely Tyson.

DuVernay makes it clear she’s on a mission to inspire and enlighten the masses through art and notes that “art calls to the optimism within us and beckons us to breathe,” especially during tumultuous times.

“When I was invited to guest-edit this issue, TIME’s second special issue devoted to optimism, it was on a particularly dreary day. The national headlines were what we’ve come to expect: bigotry, poverty, injustice, trauma, trouble. I weighed my own feelings of despair and doubt against the idea of reveling in an experience dedicated to optimism. The choice was easy. I wanted to explore the other side. And so, working on this issue with the stellar team at TIME helped me to remember a simple truth: that prioritizing hope whenever possible is a brave and bold thing to do. In that way, this issue is a gift to me, a necessary reminder to grasp joy with both arms and embrace it like a great love.”

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The issue features two fantastic covers. One features the incomparable Cicely Tyson in a gorgeous red gown and the other showcases a painting by South African artist, Nelson Makamo. 

Painting by Nelson Makamo for TIME, Photograph by Djeneba Aduayom for TIME

The issue also includes pieces written by other trailblazers like Laverne Cox, who wrote about how she’s inspired by Black history.
“My ancestors went through slavery, Jim and Jane Crow, and yet managed to come out with some of the best music, art and culture that the world has ever known. So many of us have managed to excel and have love in our hearts in the face of such degradation,” Cox writes. “When I look at the history and the brilliance of African Americans, it gives me a tremendous amount of optimism with perspective. It is horrible what far too many of us have endured. But the history of black excellence in America gives us a template for how to fight—and how to not be demoralized by the fight.”

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The Chi creator, Lena Waithe contributed her thoughts about Tinseltown’s Black renaissance in a piece that points out the long road that remains ahead.

“Audiences are loving this new renaissance. They’re entertained, but they’re also educated. But my hope is that it no longer needs to be a renaissance, a moment or a movement. I want it to be the norm. It sometimes seems like people believe: “They have Black Panther, so they’re cool. Moonlight won best picture, so they’re good, she writes. “They’ve got shows like Atlanta and Insecure, so they’re done.” But that’s not enough. White folks have everything, and we still have a lot of catching up to do. It’s too soon to be patting ourselves on the back like the problem is solved.”

Check out the full issue, here.