A film is not a film without it’s director. The director brings personal creative vision to the project and gives it life. Ava DuVernay gave life to A Wrinkle in Time. It was such a breath of fresh air to listen to Ava. I titled this post Connecting With Ava DuVernay, Director of Disney A Wrinkle in Time because you truly felt connected and empowered during our time with her. If you’ve never heard of her, you’ve probably seen or heard of her work already. She is a true visionary.
For The Children and Child in You
Ava shared that her films are her children. And she shared that A Wrinkle in Time was purposely for children in the age range of eight and above. I know realize because why- that age range is so important and as parents we have to pay attention to how our children are being raised. Thinking back I think that even as she shares below that she doesn’t have children Ava sees how impressionable that time is for a child. Here’s what Ava shared on the importance of A Wrinkle in Time being for children and that anyone watching needed to see it thru their child-like eyes as well.
“Yeah, 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 that my films are my children. You know, 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, uh, something that I hope endures for kids, you know, for a long time to come was very emotional to me.
So it was important that, you know, I, you know, we 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 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 wanna see, you know. What they said surprised me.
They liked not to be talked down to and a lot of times in kids movies, you know, they’re always trying to I found this with some of the people you know, at the studio that were like it should be more jokes, kids like to laugh. Yes, kids like to laugh but kids also like to think. They like to feel and so, you know, at first 30 minutes of the movie it’s just about Meg. There’s no magic, you know. For 30 minutes we make you sit down and sync into the heart of a young girl and 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 girl for 30 minutes before the fantasy magic happens and so that really came from Storm. It came from Levi, the boy who plays Calvin saying you know, there were 11, 12 and the kids that were going through and, you know, it’s like it’s worth taking some time to look at that before you send them off flying.”
A Wrinkle In Time is Sci-Fi
I never realized A Wrinkle in Time was noted as Sci-Fi literature, I didn’t even think of the film being sci-fi, just a fantastic adventure. Ava shared why it was important to her and how the film even evolved for her as well. How amazing for a project to start as something and end up being even more amazing.
“There was something really pointed to me today and I almost started to cry at the press conference. Mindy 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 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, 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, and nothing else said 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. You know, 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 and so I related to Meg very much, very much.”
Casting A Wrinkle In Time
I have always wanted to write a screenplay and I already have in mind who I’d want to play the characters of the film. We asked Ava how she cast A Wrinkle in Time.
“Mindy Kaling was the first person who came to my mind ‘cause I knew I wanted an African American Mrs, a Caucasian Mrs. but I also wanted a Mrs. that was something else and so I said I need to, you know, first I was thinking oh, Latina or an Asian Mrs. and then I thought oh, gosh Mindy Kaling because the part is interesting because she doesn’t say a lot because she speaks only in quotes for a long time so it was important to have like comedic actress who can do a lot with a little, body language, looks, things like that.
You know, because she comes from the comedy world so she was perfect for kind of like a Chaplin-esque like playing with not having a lot of words but she’s stunningly gorgeous but, you know, she can pull it off. some of those shots of her — I remember one studio executive was like do you need that close up of Mindy in the cave when she like closes her eyes.
I was like yes. Child, yes we need it. She looks fantastic. I love her and her face and so she was one of the first people and then Oprah, you know, the way that Oprah came to be she just wanted to hang out in New Zealand because she had gone to the South Island in New Zealand and I said where are you gonna be hanging out? Do you wanna work? Do you wanna do a little something? And so she came on board and then Reese is someone I’ve long admired because you know, Reese could have just been content to be a really beautiful blonde actress in town and that would have been enough and we would have applauded her for it. But she said no I am a pretty blonde actress, producer, entrepreneur, designer.
I mean Reese has got clothing line, a book club. She’s producing movies for other people. She’s producing movies for herself. She has a family. I mean she’s like a super woman. I don’t even know how she does it all but she is, you know, I really look at people like Reese and I say, you know, as a black woman we can look at someone like Reese and say oh, she is privileged, you know, blonde, beautiful, perfect but, you know, we overlook those women too ‘cause a lot of those women have a real fire in them and they have something to combat against too, the preconceived notion of who they are and to have to fight through that is also a fight. It’s a different fight. It’s not my fight but it is also something to push against and she’s really done that and so those three ladies are magnificent together and just lucky they all said yes.”
The Legacy of Ava
I know what you are thinking, “she’s relatively young, why would you ask about her legacy?” Ava DuVernay is a progessive soul with a legendary persona. She has so much more work to do and create yet she’s blown our minds with the subject matter she has tackled and brought on-screen. I think it was a great question, because she gave such a beautiful answer.
“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. You know, try not to let it be empty calories, [but] a meal, and I think the only way to do that is to put love in every frame.
I think people think I sacrifice 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.Click To Tweet
My dream was this. Some people’s dreams is family and children. My dream was making movies to leave in the world. 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. I hope some of the way the films I’m making leave a mark but also the way we made them. The way we made them leave some mark so that more people can do it this way, more inclusive where more people feel like they belong.”
From the start of the interview we were all completely smitten with Ava. She has a fire inside that is contagious and she truly is out to make a difference.
Make sure to tweet at @ava on Twitter your reaction to A Wrinkle in Time, she’s very active and you might just get noticed by her! Now let’s all go to the movies to see Disney A Wrinkle in Time in theaters NOW!