At President Obama's birthday party in August, Common ran into director Ava DuVernay. He seized the opportunity to pitch his song "A Letter to the Free" for her documentary 13th by rapping the first verse into her ear.
"She was listening, but with the president and the first lady standing 7 feet away, she was trying to pay attention to them, too," he laughs. You might think Common wouldn't need to pitch DuVernay at all in light of their most recent project together — he co-wrote Selma's "Glory," which scored the film's only Oscar win. But he had to prove himself again.