Thank you to Disney Studios for hosting me during the A Wrinkle In Time Event.
I’ve done dozens of interviews. This interview with Ava DuVernay just might be my favorite. She cried. I cried. We all cried. Hearing her talk about bringing A Wrinkle In Time to the big screen was special.
What inspired her to make a movie for children?
I just really wanted to make a film for kids right now. I don’t have children by choice. I always said that my films are my children. I put my blood into them. It’s really what has my name on it. It’s what I’ll leave behind in the world. So to be able to make something specifically for kids today, something that I hope endures for kids for a long time to come, was very emotional to me. It was important that we approached the story in a way that we were always thinking of young people… Kids like to laugh, but kids also like to think. They like to feel. And so the first 30 minutes of the movie it’s just about Meg. There’s no magic. For 30 minutes we make you sit down and sync into the heart of a young girl as she’s trying to figure out things, struggling at school, struggling with the bullies, struggling with an absentee father, all those things. We demand that you just look at [this] girl for 30 minutes before the fantasy magic happens.
What parts of herself went into her interpretation of Meg?
Mindy [Kaling] said something really incredible. She said that she loved sci-fi growing up, but sci-fi didn’t love her. She never got to see herself in it as a girl. but particularly as a brown girl, specifically as an Indian girl with dark skin. So to be able to be in a film where there are representations of her, representations like Storm, was so important to her. I think it was the same thing for me. Storm’s a little girl from the inner city. We’ve moved the book to be in the inner-city, from the book to the movie. A little girl from the inner city who wears glasses, who doesn’t know how fantastic she is, and I related to that. I remember being that. I remember dreaming about all the things I wanted to be and not knowing if I could be them. Not seeing anything in my world beyond my mom who loved me and my family who loved me to tell me you can do it. Nothing else said you can do it. School didn’t say you can do it. Society didn’t say you could do it. Nothing said you could do this. Nothing said you can be here and direct this movie. Nothing said that you can do any of it, and so you have to find it in yourself. And that’s what this book says. That’s what the movie is saying. So I related to Meg very much, very much.
Ava was described in a previous interview as someone who succeeds because she brings people up with her. How does that make her feel?
That’s kind. Why would you not? I used to be a crew member. I used to be a publicist and I would go on to sets and I would be one of the few women and one of the few black people and probably the only black woman so many times, but regardless of who I was, so many directors just didn’t know their crew members’ names. I thought how disrespectful. These people were here before you got out of your trailer. They set up the trailer that you can go into. This is someone’s father or mother who’s been here since five o’clock in the morning. Everyone’s working hard. How do you walk past people and not know their name? And yet that’s the culture of our industry. It’s the culture of a lot of industries in this country. My father, recently departed, laid carpet and flooring in people’s homes, and he would come and he’s the kind of guy that you would pass by, just pass him by. My aunt, Denise, who passed away some years ago, who I really know would love this movie, was a nurse at night. She would take the bus. She was the kind of person you would just pass by, and no one knows how extraordinary they were. They were great people. You can’t pass people by. Sorry. You have to know people’s names.
What does the Ava DuVernay stamp on a movie look like to her?
I just want them to be meaningful. I don’t want them to be junk food where you come in, you see the movie and you walk out and you forget about it by the time you get to the car. I want the images to stick to your ribs like soul food, and I want you to think about the stories, or get something from the narratives or the way that the camera moves, or the way that something looks, just try not to let it be empty calories, a meal, and I think the only way to do that is to put love in every frame. I think people think I sacrificed something because I don’t have a family and I work all the time, but it’s not work to me. It’s like I’m living my dream every day when I walk out of the door. My dream was this. Some people’s dreams are family and children. My dream was making movies to leave in the world, and so I get to do that every day, and I get to have family on set. They know my name. I know their name. I walk up to the set and I get love from hundreds of people every day who are happy to be there and happy to do their work. So I hope some of the films I’m making leave a mark, but also the way we made them.
The movie is about light overcoming darkness. How does she find light in a dark place?
I do this thing all day, and I don’t talk to a lot of people about it, but I do this thing all day where I count gratitude… So at the end of the day when I say goodnights to myself and to the universe or to God, I’ll say thirteen or forty seven or whatever. And in that moment, I can’t remember all the things they were, but I’ll count them. So today I’m on 19. You all are 20… Some days you’re going through the day and you’re like I got three. Good night. But it’s my little prayer, and I count for gratitude the little pieces of things that I have gratitude for, a smile, a person that lets me in the left turn lane when I know it was wrong and I shouldn’t have been there, the parking spot there, just little things. If you just take a second to acknowledge it, it gives you a little jolt of joy… You just count them through the day and they give you a little kick.
There’s still more to come from the #WrinkleInTimeEvent! Make sure you follow along with all of the A Wrinkle In Time coverage! A Wrinkle In Time is in theaters now!
From visionary director Ava DuVernay comes Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” an epic adventure based on Madeleine L’Engle’s timeless classic which takes audiences across dimensions of time and space, examining the nature of darkness versus light and, ultimately, the triumph of love. Through one girl’s transformative journey led by three celestial guides, we discover that strength comes from embracing one’s individuality and that the best way to triumph over fear is to travel by one’s own light.
Meg Murry is a typical middle school student struggling with issues of self-worth who just wants to fit in. The daughter of two world-renowned physicists, she is intelligent and uniquely gifted, as is Meg’s younger brother, Charles Wallace, but she has yet to realize it for herself. Complicating matters is the mysterious disappearance of Mr. Murry, which has left Meg devastated and her mother broken-hearted. Charles Wallace introduces Meg and her fellow classmate Calvin to three celestial beings (Mrs. Which, Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Who) who have journeyed to Earth to help search for their father, and together they embark on their formidable quest. Travelling via a wrinkling of time and space known as tessering, they are transported to worlds beyond their imagination where they must confront a powerful evil force. To make it back home to Earth, Meg must face the darkness within herself in order to harness the strength necessary to defeat the darkness rapidly enveloping the Universe.
Directed by Oscar® nominee Ava DuVernay from a screenplay by Oscar winner Jennifer Lee based upon the beloved novel by Madeleine L’Engle, “A Wrinkle in Time” stars: two-time Academy Award® nominee Oprah Winfrey as Mrs. Which, Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon as Mrs. Whatsit, Emmy® nominee Mindy Kaling as Mrs. Who, Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Mrs. Murry, Michael Peňa as Red and introducing Storm Reid as Meg Murry, with two-time Emmy winner Zach Galifianakis as The Happy Medium and Emmy nominee Chris Pine as Mr. Murry.
Produced by Jim Whitaker and Catherine Hand with Doug Merrifield serving as executive producer, the film also boasts an impressive creative team featuring some of the most talented and skilled craft persons working today, including: Tobias Schliessler, ASC as director of photography, Naomi Shohan as production designer, Oscar®-nominee Spencer Averick as film editor and two-time Academy Award®-nominee Paco Delgado as costume designer.