As the first photos from next year's A Wrinkle in Time debut on Entertainment Weekly today, director Ava DuVernay spoke to the magazine about what the project meant to her. It's not just about the fact that she got to be the first woman of color to direct a movie with a budget over $100 million. It's about being able to put a Black girl in the center of Madeleine L'Engle's imaginative story, first published in 1963.
"The first image [I had in my head] was to place a brown girl in that role of Meg, a girl traveling to different planets and encountering beings and situations that I’d never seen a girl of color in,” said DuVernay, who admitted that she hadn't read the book until Disney approached her about it. "There aren’t any other Black women who have been invited to imagine what other planets in the universe might look and feel like. I was interested in that and in a heroine that looked like the girls I grew up with."
That girl turned out to be relative newcomer Storm Reid, 14, who made her film debut in 12 Years a Slave. She plays Meg Murry, traditionally thought of as a white girl up until now, whose physicist father (Chris Pine) goes missing. It's up to Meg to find him somewhere in the universe, with the help of three strange women. The Selma director also relished the chance to cast those Mrs. characters, she told EW.
"My whole process with this film was, what if?"she said. "With these women, I wondered, could we make them women of different ages, body types, races? Could we bring in culture, bring in history in their costumes? And in the women themselves, could we just reflect a fuller breadth of femininity?"
"I wanted a Black Mrs., a white Mrs., and a Mrs. that was not either, and Mindy was the first one that came to mind," DuVernay said. "I feel like we don’t talk about a lot of the other colors and cultures enough, and Mindy is so beautiful to me. Her character is one that, in her costumes and in working with Mindy, we wanted to bring in a remix of styles and cultures and customs from around the world. She was a real partner in that."
These sound like great representatives of our own Earth. Now we can't wait to see what all those other planets look like, too.