Ava DuVernay Partners With Lenovo And The UN’s Girl Up To Spotlight Young Female Trailblazers Around The World


Oluwakemi Dauda, a 20-year-old University of Michigan student, isn’t easily satisfied. When she noticed that her high school was lacking teachers and resources, so much so that the ceiling was rotting away, she took matters into her own hands and registered for a computer application class and sought support from non-profit education organization NAF to supplement her education. 

That led her to create Steps to Success, an educational app for young children with severe literacy issues in Detroit. When she launched the tool in 2015, 50% of adults in Detroit were considered “functionally illiterate.” 

Dauda is one of 10 women from around the world featured in New Realities, a series of films highlighting young female leaders making a difference in their communities. Backed by award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay and her film collective Array, as well as Lenovo and the United Nations’ Girl Up initiative, the films were directed by virtual reality creator and director Mary Matheson, who used VR technology to give audiences a more intimate look into these women’s lives. They are streaming for free on Lenovo’s website beginning Thursday, just ahead of International Day Of The Girl on October 11.

“I want girls to see themselves in us and be able to find their voices in our films,” says Dauda. “If you can’t see yourself somewhere, your likelihood of trying to get there is not going to be high.” 

New Realities chronicles Dauda’s experience founding Steps to Success and later Bringing Hope Back Home, a nonprofit organization that prepares underrepresented high school students for college.