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Ava DuVernay Revealed She Has Lupus & Has Been in Remission for 20 Years at Essence Fest

Monica Otayza
Jul 24, 2019
03:02 A.M.
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Ava DuVernay of "Queen Sugar" reveals she's been suffering from lupus for two decades now. The show's executive producer and director shared the news with the rest of the cast in this year's Essence Festival.


"I have lupus, and that's why I put it in 'Queen Sugar.'"

It's not every day you hear a show's executive producer announce that the reason why she incorporates things into storylines is because of personal experiences. However, Ava DuVernay decided to let everyone know the reason why Lupus was incorporated into the "Queen Sugar" story. 


To her, the storyline hits close to home as she suffers from the same autoimmune disease. 

On characters portraying herself

"Queen Sugar" follows three siblings and their family in Louisiana. Of the three siblings, Ava reveals that it's sisters Nova and Charley that are the two characters who represent her own life. 


"Nova and Charley are the two halves of me."

On how she's like the two characters, she reveals:

“Charley is like ‘I’ll fix it, I’m gonna get it done.’ That’s totally me.” As for Noav, she said, “She’s me also, an activist, trying to make the world a little bit of a better place, but sometimes makes mistakes. I don’t have a white cop boyfriend [like her], but you never know!”

On putting lupus in the storyline

However, when asked why the character Violet, known as Aunt Vi, was given lupus, DuVernay made a shocking revelation:


“I’ve never been asked that question directly, so I’ve never had the opportunity to tell anyone that I have lupus and that’s why I put it in. I’ve been in remission for 20 years, but I did want to make sure that we create spaces to talk about it. We wanted to really give that chronic illness to Vi and show you can live and you can battle through it, you can continue to thrive, but you have to manage it.”


While it comes as a shock to many, Ava assures everyone that she is fine and that she's been in remission for 20 years now. She made sure that it was in the storyline so that people have a more direct dialogue about the disease. 

The 46-year-old may have not told everyone she suffered from the disease in the start, but it definitely raised awareness for it.


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