Filmmaker Ava DuVernay kicked off her 50th birthday with a three-day vacation in Hawaii last week, organized by one of her best friends, Oprah Winfrey. The entertainment mogul took a break from her busy production schedule filming “The Color Purple” to celebrate her friend of 10 years. The pair have worked together as executive producers on various projects, including “Selma,” Disney’s “A Wrinkle In Time” and OWN’s “Queen Sugar.”
On Aug. 31, Oprah shared an Instagram video of herself arriving at DuVernary’s front door with hand-picked sunflowers from her garden. In the caption, she revealed the two met while she worked on the set of Lee Daniels’ 2012 film “The Butler.” She recalled being enamored after watching watch DuVernay’s film “Middle of Nowhere,” as suggested by her co-star, Daniel Oyelowo.
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“I googled who directed the movie because I had not heard of Ava DuVernay at the time,” Oprah, who has a net worth of $2.5 billion, wrote. “There was this beautiful photograph of this lovely Black woman who was wearing glasses just like me. I thought, I want to be her friend!”
She continued, “And here we are, almost a decade into our friendship and bringing in @ava’s 50th year on planet Earth. In honor of this life event, we gathered her family and friends and celebrated in Hawaii last week. This is how we kicked off her birthday—stay tuned for more.”
A second video shows the 68-year-old rocking a gorgeous yellow silk two-piece with feathered sleeves and a white shirt underneath. It also featured before-and-after clips of DuVernay’s lavish dinner setup featuring flower arrangements from Oprah’s longtime decorator, Diana Dolan, owner of Porch Summerland furniture store.
“I’m trying not to totally lose. I got a long way to go tonight,” she said before a clip of her tearing up over the beautiful display. Dolan and her team created a calm oasis in a tent near a pool featuring floral centerpieces in DuVernay’s favorite color — orange.
She said, “Where I’m from…this is not a tent. Where Mrs. WInfrey is from?” Oprah insisted, “This is a tent. It’s a beautiful tent.”
The “I Will Follow” director said, “I could actually live in there for my actual life.” In the comments, she added, “Excuse my ugly cry! But this transformation! This loveliness! This gift of a gathering! Everything!!!!!!!!!”
A video from Oprah Daily revealed that the guests were required to take tequila shots before changing venues. Duvernay went on to share collages of photos from her three-day birthday extravaganza in two pinned Instagram posts. The “When They See Us” director was joined by notable guests including director J.J. Abrams, actors Niecey Nash, Colman Domingo, and Winfrey’s bestie Gayle King, to name a few. Also in attendance was DuVernay’s mother, Darlene Maye, sister Tina DuVernay, and brother Nicholas Maye, the latter of whom executive produced the Oscar-winning film “Two Distant Strangers.”
“Words can’t describe the exquisite week I’ve had. Pictures can’t capture the dazzling love I’ve felt,” DuVernay wrote in one caption. “It’s all too massive. Too magnificent. A time that I’ll long remember and hold close, to warm me. And guide me into my new decade. Thank you, @oprah. I don’t have language for how this feels. I trust that you know. Bless you for this gift. For this time. For this friendship beyond words.”
She continued expressing her gratitude in the next, writing, “I’ve never felt so happy and free at the same time. Thank you to my nearest and dearest for celebrating 50 with me. Courtesy of my loved one and the hostess with the mostest, @oprah. You each blanketed me with your joy and your kindness and your love and it felt like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Grateful for every smile, every hug, every prayer. Onward for all of us.”
The third pinned post was originally shared on DuVernary’s birthday, Wednesday, Aug. 24, attached with a childhood photo. She reflected on the “heartaches, laughs, failures, wins, triumphs, disappointments, discoveries, and joys” she’s endured over the last five decades in the caption.