Sophia Bush is the unforgettable Brooke Davis in One Tree Hill, sure, but she is also an inspiring activist. She fights for causes she believes in on social media, in interviews and in “real life”.

Sophia Bush was born in Pasadena, California in 1982, from two photographers. She was really into volleyball growing up and was forced to take part in a play to graduate high school. A great push from destiny that led the world to know the fascinating actress and inspiring activist she is today.

An acting career that includes two iconic TV shows

She appeared in a few small productions before landing the starring role of Brooke Davis in the WB/CW teen drama One Tree Hill in 2003. This is probably still her most well-known role. Brooke Davis went from a partying trouble-making cheerleader to a loyal friend, talented designer and loving mother. Through the years, she became a fan favorite, due to her big heart and character development. Bush directed three episodes on the last season of the show.

Brooke Davis in One Tree Hill, GIF from tenor

From One Tree Hill (2003-2012), she went on to star as Detective Erin Lindsay in the NBC police drama Chicago P.D. (2013-2017) and appeared in Chicago Fire and Chicago Med as the same character.

She also starred in movies in-between seasons of One Tree Hill such as John Tucker Must Die (2006) and The Narrow (2008) or more recently in Marshall (2017) or Acts of Violence (2018). She also voiced Karen/Voyd in the Incredibles 2 (2018).

Fierce defender of human and environmental rights

Sophia Bush has always been vocal about her beliefs. She publicly supported Barck Obama in the 2008 presidential election. She fights for LGBTQIA+ rights, supported marriage equality and appeared in the Human Rights Campaign following the Orlando shooting of 2016. She also fights for the protection of the environment and women’s rights, and advocates for gun control. She uses her social media platform as a way to raise awareness on world events and to shed light on fundraisers she cares about. She encourages her followers to get involved in activism.

Bush is a founding member of Time’s Up. She was one of the first celebrities to sign the letter that launched the Time’s Up movement against sexual harassment, following #MeToo. Time’s Up sets up a fund to defend low-income victims of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace, advocates for a change in legislation on harassment, and pushes for gender equality in entertainment. Bush also designed a clothing line and gave the profits to planned parenthood. In addition, she spoke at the Women’s March on January 20, 2018 and openly supported Christine Blasey Ford in the fight over Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

The actress has been vocal about how the industry can be a very toxic environment for women. Alongside her co-stars from One Tree Hill, she denounced Mark Schwahn’s behavior. He was accused of sexual harassment by many women (more than 40!). She also publicly revealed that she had a really hard time while filming Chicago P.D., which led her to leave the TV series after season 4, even though she had signed a seven-year contract. She said that it “was a consistent onslaught barrage of abusive behavior” and that she was once assaulted in a room full of men who did nothing.

Sophia Bush is a white woman, and as such, she benefits from certain privileges in comparison to other minorities. This is something she is acutely aware of, and talks about on social media. She often uses her platform to bring attention to issues that concern minorities. She often talks about white privilege and puts up links to accounts of women of color that helped to educate her. She considers herself a “work in progress”, which is the title of the podcast she launched in September 2019. In it, she has conversations with people she is inspired by. Her first guest was feminist and living legend, Gloria Steinem.

Article by Juliette Cardinale

Ava DuVernay is a director and activist, fighting for the rights of African-Americans and for their stories to be told. 

Ava DuVernay @ava on Instagram

There are entertainment celebrities that just make us smile, laugh or cry, but there are some who, in addition, make us think and inspire us. Ava DuVernay is definitely one of them. Born in 1972 in California, she is an African-American film director, writer and producer. Throughout her career, she has consistently showcased African-American stories and characters, proving that they have a voice deserving to be told to anybody who thought otherwise. 

A career she was not expecting

Ava DuVernay did not plan on working in the cinema industry. She actually studied English Literature and African-American studies at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles). She wanted to work in journalism and was tasked with covering the O.J. Simpson murder trial while interning for CBS News in 1995. However, she soon decided to turn to Public Relations. She worked as a junior publicist for several companies including 20th Century Fox before opening her own PR firm, The DuVernay Agency in 1999. She mainty working for the entertainment industry and in the 2000s, she was involved in marketing campaigns for movies such as Dreamgirls.

A move towards directing

In 2006, she directed her first short movie called Saturday Night Life, about a single mother and inspired by her own mother’s experiences. She then caught the directing virus and in 2008 wrote, produced and directed her first feature-length documentary, This is Life, on hip-hop. She went on to direct a few music documentaries as well as a documentary on Hurricane Katrina. 

In 2010, her first feature fiction was called I Will Follow and inspired, this time, by her aunt. It focuses on grieving and coming to terms with the death of a loved one. The same year, because she had troubles with finding financing for her movie, she created her own distribution company, ARRAY. Originally called the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement, it aims at helping African-American and female storytellers.

An activist telling stories that matter

Just by being an African-American female director in Hollywood, AvaDuvernay keeps making history. In 2012, her second feature film Middle of Nowhere – about the wife of an emprisoned man – led her to win the directing award in the US dramatic competition at the Sundance film festival. She became the first black woman to win this award. Two years later, with the movie Selma, she was the first black woman nominated for the best director award at the Golden globes, and the first black female director to have her film nominated for the best picture Academy Award. Selma tells the story of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Selma to Montgomery marches of 1965.

In 2017, she was nominated for the Academy Award for best documentary feature for 13th, in which she discusses the lasting impacts of slavery on the discrimination African-Americans still face today, especially in the prison-industrial complex. The name of the dcumentary comes from the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution which abolished slavery in the United States.

In 2018, she directed the movie A Wrinkle in Time for Disney. Although it was neither a critical nor commercial success, she was the first African-American woman to direct a film that earned at least $100 million in the US. The same year, she was part of the Jury of 71th Cannes film festival when actress Cate Blanchett was president.

When They See Us

In 2019, she released on Netflix a documentary series called When They See Us, about the “Central Park Five”. She created, co-wrote and directed the miniseries about the 1989 Central Park jogger case. Five brown and black male teenagers were wrongly accused and convicted of sexually assaulting a white woman in New York. After seeing Selma in 2015, one of the 5 men reached out to Ava DuVernay on Twitter, hoping she would tell their story. Although DNA evidence proved their innocence (and the criminal confessed) in 2002 and they had won a lawsuit for wrongful conviction in 2014, the show helped them win the court of public opinion. The show has earned a total of 16 Emmy nominations.

Ava DuVernay managed to make a place for herself in an industry that does not favor African-Americans nor female directors, far from it. She is not done telling stories that need to be told, shading light on important issues and inspiring young black girls all over the world.

Article by Juliette Cardinale