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Ava DuVernay MasterClass Review: Reframe Your Thinking

Check out our honest review of Ava DuVernay’s MasterClass and find out whether it’s worth taking whether you’re an aspiring filmmaker or just looking for general advice on how to achieve your goals.

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Reframe Your Thinking with Ava DuVernay: Our Verdict (2024)


4.5 / 5

Ava DuVernay’s MasterClass is primarily focused on directing. DuVernay talks about vision, prep work, building a team, production, and other topics relevant to any aspiring filmmaker. But throughout the course, she also talks about the ways you can reframe your thinking, which can help you achieve your goals and advance in your professional as well as your personal life.


  • Interesting content
  • Great teacher
  • Short and concise


  • Lack of advanced content

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This is the time to give yourself permission to try.

Ava DuVernay’s MasterClass has an eye-catching title: Reframe Your Thinking.

But since I know her as a director, I didn’t know what to expect from the class. So, I decided to take it and see what it’s all about. And honestly, I was hooked right away.

There is something about Ava that keeps you interested and curious to hear more. Plus, the course is very short and dynamic, so it almost felt like watching a documentary.

However, each MasterClass has its target audience and potential drawbacks to watch out for.

In this review, I’ll tell you who this class is best suited for, and I’ll tell you more about my learning experience.

Let’s dive in. Or should I say – action!

Table of Contents

What is the Ava DuVernay MasterClass?

Reframe Your Thinking” is an online course offered by MasterClass, a reputable online learning platform known for its exceptional team of instructors.

The class is taught by Ava DuVernay, an American director and Primetime Emmy Award winner. She is best known for her movies and TV shows that explore topics related to social injustice.  

In the course, DuVernay takes her learners behind the scenes of her newest feature film, Origin, and explains how she brings her vision to reality. The course provides a fascinating look at the filmmaking process and shows effective ways you can turn any problem into an opportunity.

The course contains only one video lesson with a duration of 1 hour and 21 minutes.

Ava DuVernay
Ava DuVernay

Who is Ava DuVernay?

Ava DuVernay is an award-winning American writer-director. She is the first black female director to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award and have a film nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

In her movies and TV shows, DuVernay often explores experiences of African Americans, including Jim Crow-era racism, the civil rights movement, and the history of hip-hop music. Some of her most impactful movies include Selma, Origin, and Middle of Nowhere.

Her television credits include a drama series, Queen Sugar, and two Netflix drama limited series: When They See Us and Colin in Black & White.

Although DuVernay didn’t go to film school, her vision, innovation, and honest leadership helped her become one of the most prominent directors around.

Who is Ava DuVernay’s MasterClass for?

In her MasterClass, DuVernay breaks down her filmmaking process. She takes you through all the phases, from soft prep to post-production. That said, her class is ideal for aspiring filmmakers and anyone who wants to learn more about what it takes to make a movie.

Since she talks about her own movies, especially Origin, the course is great for the admirers of her work.

Finally, I would recommend this class to any creative who needs inspiration or wants to find new ways to overcome challenges. Ava is a very thoughtful and encouraging teacher, and she knows how to verbalize her approach and ideas. You can learn a lot from her, no matter what your ideal career path is.

To sum it up, Ava’s MasterClass is best suited for:

  • Aspiring filmmakers
  • Creatives
  • Admirers of Ava’s work

What does Ava DuVernay’s MasterClass cover?

As I mentioned before, Ava’s lessons revolve around filmmaking – finding ideas, building a team, finding locations, directing, and post-production.

However, Ava teaches in a way that helps you look at the bigger picture. This way, her filmmaking advice can also help you direct your own life.

The course only has one video lesson, but it’s divided into small chapters.

Each chapter includes Ava’s one-to-one lesson, behind-the-scenes clips, and short conversations with Ava’s crew members.

  1. Vision
    This chapter includes finding ideas and inspiration. Ava talks about the importance of visualizing your ideas before moving into the doing.
  1. Prep and Moving Into the Doing
    This phase includes soft prep (everything you do to get ready to do it), finding filming locations, and finally moving into the doing
  1. Build Your Team
    According to Ava, building a team is even more important than vision or prep. She wants to be surrounded by skilled and honest people who are good to be around.
  1. Direct With Honest Leadership
    Honest leadership is based on good communication, connection with the crew, research, authenticity, and turning problems into challenges.
  1. Adapt and Embrace the Pivot
    In this chapter, Ava shares her story of becoming a filmmaker. She talks about the obstacles and challenges she came across along the way and that helped her reframe her thinking.
  1. Refine and Compose the Final Details
    The final chapter is dedicated to post-production and final decisions you need to make as a director.

My favorite parts of Ava DuVernay’s MasterClass

Since Ava’s class consists of only one video lesson, it’s hard to pick the best part. Everything is connected and fluid, and you can easily watch it in one sitting.

However, there are some parts that I particularly liked.

For instance, I liked the parts where Ava was faced with a certain challenge and needed to find a creative way to overcome it. It’s all about ‘reframing how you think’ and adapting to unpredictable situations.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the chapter focused on embracing the pivot, and something I will surely try to remember:

  • Pivoting is essential, regardless of your industry
  • Supplement your optimal circumstances with contingency plans
  • You don’t need everything to be perfect to take action
Ava DuVernay navigating challenges and discovering creative solutions
Ava DuVernay overcoming challenges and finding creative solutions

How much does the MasterClass cost?

MasterClass is a subscription-based learning platform, so it’s not possible to purchase courses individually. If you want to take this MasterClass, you have to become a subscriber.

The standard annual plan has been renamed "Plus" and is available at $120 a year (which makes it $10 per month, billed annually), and now provides access to all MasterClass courses on two devices instead of one. The Premium plan, providing access for up to six devices costs $240 per year.

A MasterClass subscription gives you unlimited access to a catalog of 200+ classes, so if you want to take multiple classes throughout the year, the subscription is definitely worth it, and there are pleny of interesting courses on related topics to explore.

Also, the platform offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, so if you’re not happy with your learning experience, you can request a full refund.

Note that the "Standard" membership, priced at $72 per year, only gives you access to their short-form learning content – none of their full MasterClasses are included.

What I liked about Ava DuVernay’s MasterClass

Although it’s rather short, I genuinely enjoyed Ava’s MasterClass. I think it’s interesting, well-structured, and insightful, and Ava is a great teacher who will push you to explore your opportunities and reach out for your dreams.

Therefore, I would recommend this course to fellow creatives, especially those who are already subscribed to MasterClass.

Here are some of the main reasons why I believe this class is worth taking:

Interesting content

Ava did a great job at teaching a short but useful and insightful online course. I felt focused and engaged the whole time.

The topics are interesting, Ava’s approach to them as well, and there is no ‘empty talk’ or unnecessary remarks.

Great teacher

It’s true – Ava knows what she wants to say and she knows how to say it. She is great at verbalizing her ideas and breaking down her process.

Plus, her energy and willingness to teach created a productive and encouraging yet relaxed learning environment.

Short and concise

With a duration of less than 2 hours, this is one of the shorter courses on MasterClass. So, it’s ideal for people who don’t have a lot of time on their hence but still want to learn something new.

Some short MasterClasses aren’t very insightful though, and they sometimes feel like they don’t have a specific goal or message to convey. But this is not the case with Ava’s class.

Drawbacks of Ava DuVernay’s MasterClass

Although I enjoyed Ava’s class, it’s probably not for everyone. Here is a potential disadvantage for some learners.

Lack of advanced content

Due to its short duration and variety of topics, this class doesn’t offer in-depth lessons or discussions. In most cases, Ava just scratched the surface.

After all, the course is titled “Reframe Your Thinking”, so it’s not supposed to offer thorough directing classes.

If you want to take a detailed filmmaking course, there are several other MasterClasses I would recommend you to check out.

Review conclusion: Is Ava DuVernay’s MasterClass worth it?

At the end of the day, Ava’s MasterClass turned out to be so much more than I expected.

I came here with an open mind, and I do appreciate Ava’s work and vision, but I’m usually a bit skeptical about short MasterClasses.

However, in less than an hour and a half, Ava managed to bring me to multiple filming locations and introduce me to her filmmaking approach and life philosophy. Her lessons were a joy to watch, and they were quite educational and insightful.

On the other hand, it’s hard to provide more advanced lessons and in-depth discussions in such a short time.

But the fact that I wanted to hear more is a good thing – it means the course left me feeling curious and inspired. And along with some useful knowledge, that’s all I want from MasterClass.