Award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay disclosed her longtime battle with lupus during a conversation at the Essence Festival in July. DuVernay included a storyline in her hit OWN show Queen Sugar about one character struggling with the disease based on her own real-life experiences.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lupus is an autoimmune illness that causes inflammation in various parts of one's body. Signs and symptoms of the ailment include swelling of the joints and extreme exhaustion. 

"I've never been asked that question directly, so I've never had the opportunity to tell anyone that I have Lupus and that’s why I put it in," she said, according to People

The series revolves around siblings who acquire a sugarcane farm in Louisiana. The character of Aunt "Vi" Violet, played by Tina Lifford, suffers from the condition. 

"I've been in remission for 20 years, but I did want to make sure that we create spaces to talk about it. We wanted to really give that chronic illness to Vi and show you can live and you can battle through it, you can continue to thrive, but you have to manage it," she said. 

With the revelation now public, DuVernay hopes her story can also help those struggling with the disease heal through Aunt Vi's pain.

"It's really given me strength in a lot of different ways and so hopefully her character going through it as well will help people know they can do the same."