Ava DuVernay, Melinda Gates, Christine Lagarde, and Yara Shahidi for Town & Country’s Summer 2019 Issue

Posted on May 08, 2019

Ava DuVernay, Melinda Gates, Christine Lagarde, and Yara Shahidi are the four cover stars of Town & Country’s Summer 2019 issue.




On what she wanted to convey in ‘When They See Us’: “Often when you hear ‘criminal,’ they’re dehumanized. What we try to do in the series is show that these are living, breathing people with thoughts, memories, feelings families.”

On the injustices the exonerated Central Park Five suffered that others don’t: “All of them were picked up off the street that day for just being boys – boys will be boys. Just like Brett Kavanaugh, just like all the white boys or the women reading this magazine who go on spring break and do all kinds of things and are never considered a wolfpack or a gang, never given the full brunt of the criminal justice system. The hope is that people can watch this story and consider the evils of that system. The film is designed to inspire conversation and change.”

On her emotional reaction at the conclusion of filming: “…When I got to the end of episode four, I cried like a baby. The cumulative emotion broke me down in a way that was unlike anything I’ve done.”




On the state of the world for women today: “It’s a better time in the world to be a woman than it has ever been – yet it’s not getting better fast enough.”

On what the U.S. could learn from other countries: “…And it’s time, at some point, that we have a woman as the leader of the country.”

On what President Jimmy Carter taught her about local philanthropy: “He said, ‘Melinda, anything you do has to be owned by the local people. And when it’s owned by them and their voices are heard and they truly believe in it, then they will truly take it up. And when you leave, the program will still exist.’ And he was absolutely right.”




On the importance of female economic power: “Women have immense talents that society does not leverage. And we are impoverished by not having access to that talent.”

On whether she ever feels defeated by sexism: “No, I laugh. I keep my head down, grit my teeth, and just keep working, keep helping. Because that’s what we have to do.”

On what gives her hope: “Humanity gives me hope, because I think people are capable of everything, including the best. And sometimes you get completely gobsmacked by what they can do when they want to be good.”




On Instagram and displaying joy: “I can say, my friends look great today, let’s take a picture’ and be equally concerned with issues globally. There’s a power in just displaying joy.”

On activism without borders: “My love of history, or even being socially engaged, stems from having, firsthand, people to care about around the globe and at a young age expanding my community beyond these fake borders we put on each other.”

On philanthropy as a family value: “I remember when we first got an investment banker, he would meet with me and my brother at 10 and seven. I think from the time I got my first check, you said [her mother, Keri], ‘You have three jars: You have savings, you have spending, and you have donating. What do you want to put in each jar? So it’s already kind of infrastructurally set up – you get, and then you give some.”



Photo Credit: Alex Bhattacharji (Ava DuVernay), Brigitte Lacombe (Christine Lagarde), Heather Hazzan (Melinda Gates), Dana Scruggs (Yara Shahidi)

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