Steve Granitz/WireImage
Megan Daley
January 12, 2015 AT 08:05 PM EST

Golden Globe-nominated director Ava DuVernay has a few special requirements when she sits down to write.

“I’ve got to light a candle and have the right slippers on,” DuVernay said in a recent interview with Real Simple.

Selma’s director also revealed that she didn’t always want to be a director—that realization came when she was in her mid-30s, with a strong career in PR behind her. In the interview, DuVernay discusses making the jump from PR to filmmaking, what her writing process is like, and the advice she has for all the writers, directors and dreamers who want to break into the creative field. Read the full interview here to find out her secret to success–beyond the slippers.

The money quote: “If you want to make a film, say, and your reasons are truly for the experience of doing it and for the storytelling and the art of it, you don’t have to ask anyone.”

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