When creating the vast worlds in the book-to-film adaptation “A Wrinkle in Time,” director Ava DuVernay didn’t put her focus only on the places that would bring the magical novel to life, but also on the faces of the characters readers have grown to know and love.
In a feature in Time, Reese Witherspoon said that during her 25-year career in Hollywood, she’s “never seen somebody demand inclusiveness like [DuVernay].”
“It’s just a different perspective, and you don’t get that unless we start to have powerful filmmakers of different colors, different genders,” she said. “You’re just gonna have the same 20 dudes making the same 20 movies over and over and over again.”
Oprah Winfrey, who also stars in the film and is a longtime collaborator with DuVernay, echoed Witherspoon’s sentiment: “I looked at her in her jeans and sneakers and those dreads out there calling it. It’s just the coolest damn thing to watch her with those big-ass machines. It just feels like, O.K., next generation: there you are.”
One aspect over which DuVernay took inclusivity very seriously was in casting. She knew she wanted Meg to have brown skin, and wanted the three Mrs. from the book to represent different ethnicities: one “black, white and someone who wasn’t either.”
“I wasn’t just casting for actresses. I was casting for leaders — icons,” DuVernay said. “Reese is the hottest producer in town. Oprah’s the most prolific, venerable legend of television and an artist and entrepreneur. And Mindy’s one of the few women running a show with her name, about her. When I think about the three of them together as a unit of celestial beings, it feels right.”
“Before I got this role, I wanted there to be more little girls that look like me on TV and in lead roles,” said Storm Reid, the child actress who plays Meg.
“When you don’t see yourself, there is a subconscious psychological manifestation. It’s diminishing,” added Winfrey. “That will have impact far beyond anything any marketer, any researcher, any of us even know.”
Read the full feature here.