Recently I was invited out to Los Angeles to attend the red-carpet premiere for A Wrinkle In Time and interview the cast. I was blown away when I got the invite and read that Ava DuVernay would be one of the interviewees. I thought 15 minutes with Ava OMG what can I ask her, but when she arrived I just fell into the moment. First starters she’s brilliant! I can devote hours talking about Ava DuVernay, but let’s dive into the inspiration behind her decision to direct A Wrinkle In Time and truly get to recognize the woman within.
“I just really wanted to make a film for kids right now. I don’t have children. I don’t have children by choice. I always said my film 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 and 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 I approached the story in a way that we were always thinking of young people but then also with the young people that we had on the set making sure that they felt safe, included and that their voices were being heard because I was really listening to them a lot about what’s cool, what do the kids want to see, you know. What they said surprised me.” Ava DuVernay
A Wrinkle In Time is now in theaters what a gift Ava has given to young people. A Wrinkle In Time teaches life lessons to the inner kid in all of us. Rarely do you have a movie made for children that touches the inner child within and sparks your light to shine. Only a true visionary like Ava DuVernay can deliver a masterpiece beyond expectations.
Meg’s Character And The Personal Interpretations From Ava DuVernay’s Perspective
“Mindy said something really incredible during the all press conference. 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, she said and so to be able to 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, you know. 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 doesn’t know how fantastic she is and I related to that. I remember dreaming about all the things I wanted to be and not to know if I could be them.Nothing else said you could do it. The school didn’t say you could do it. Society didn’t say you could do it. Nothing said you could do this. Nothing said you could be here and direct this movie. You know, nothing said that you can do any of it and so you must find it in yourself and that’s what this book says. That’s what the movie is saying and so I related to Meg.”
In a previous post, I’ve stated the importance of representation I’m praying we see more diversity on the big screen as the world of entertainment continues to evolve.
Expanding Creativity and Her Vision As A Storyteller
When films are created we, all know budget plays a huge part in the overall creativity and quality of the film when it’s released in theaters. A Wrinkle in Time reportedly has a budget exceeding $100 million, making Ava DuVernay the first black woman to direct a live-action film with a budget of that size. I was enlightened to hear first hand with a budget that size how it impacted creativity and the vision for the movie.
“Yes well, money helps a lot. We made Selma for 20 million dollars and this was like 120 million dollars. When making Selma and you try to do period clothes, shoot violence, crowd shots, recreate Dr. King, and the cars it’s expensive to do period films because you can’t just go out and get them off the street. They’re specialty items, so it’s hard to do that movie at this price point. It was a real change when I came here, and I remember one day I was saying god my producer Jim Whittaker who I love is so important to call out the men who are just good guys. Jim Whittaker I was like God you know, this is gonna be a good shot the camera not here but it would be better if I had a second crane and doing this. He was like oh, you want a second crane? I said no can I have a second crane? He’s like yes just tell us what you want. I was like I want a second crane.It felt like once I had to free myself to say I can ask them what I want and there’s budget available to do it. I remember on Selma there’s a scene where they’re crossing the bridge and the racist’s people had these horses attack the marchers. In real life, it was 57 horses, but I remember the producer that day said Ava, we just don’t have enough money. You’ve got five horses I said how I am going to make five horses look like 57 horses and they were like this is all we’ve got. So, we made it work with five horses but like this is the kind of movie where if I needed 57 horses there were going to be 67.”
What an amazing story and a wonderful way to understand how storytelling really works behind the scenes when you have a budget to run with. I remember that scene in Selma with the horses and never knew they only had five horses to work with during filming.
Changing The World And The Role She Plays In Doing So
Ava DuVernay is passionate about changing the darkness within the world and shedding light on things to improve the quality of life for everyone. She sees beauty in everything, despite how it may appear on the surface. During this interview, you could feel her spirit. You can see the emotions on her face. She was genuine about her stance on things and the direction she was hoping for. A bold statement that left the room in silence and many of in tears.
“I really want it to be a seed that blossoms into something beautiful in young people about the way they treat each one another. The way we see ourselves, and the way that we’re seen. I mean movies have the power to do that. Movies have the power to do things that politics doesn’t even do. It reminds me of the time when kids who had HIV would swim in a pool they’d drain the pool because people didn’t even understand what it was. It wasn’t the CDC reports or politicians that changed people’s minds about it was images and stories. It was Philadelphia. It was angled in America stories of human beings going through it that made people think oh, okay I don’t have to be afraid. Stories are powerful and so I believe in this story. I believe in this story to be able to plant seeds with young people at this time. There are many divisions and darkness in the world to be able to say you could be a light. Oprah always says it’s easier to for one light to illuminate a dark room so if we were the darkness in this room and someone just turned on one candle there would be light.”
Before the interview, we spoke with one of the cast members who stated “Ava knows everyone’s name on set. She’s loyal to everybody, and she succeeds because she brings people up with her.”When sharing this with Ava DuVernay it hit home and this time we all cried as we listened to her reflect on the importance of knowing someone’s name and the least we can do is respect one another. This was one of my favorite parts of the interview.
“I used to be a crew member. I used to be a publicist, and I would on to sets and I would be only 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 like 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. You know this is someone’s father or mother who’s been here since five o’clock in the morning.You know, everyone’s working hard. Like how do you walk pass people and not know their name? Yet that’s the culture of our industry. It’s the culture of many industries in this country. My father recently departed he laid carpet and flooring in people’s home. 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.”
Take a moment and just reflect on that it’s powerful beyond just words and it holds nothing but the truth. Ava DuVernay went on to say “You have to know people’s names.You have to treat people with kindness I’m glad she said that.”
I wish we could’ve talked to her for hours too. Just think of all the greatness we could’ve absorbed. She’s a rock star!
Jennifer I agree I hope we cross her path again soon.