There was something that stood out about our visit to the set of “A Wrinkle In Time.” Every single person we talked to seemed absolutely in love with director Ava DuVernay.
With “A Wrinkle in Time,” Ava, lauded for her films “Selma” and “13th,” makes history as the first black woman to direct a live action film with a budget of over $100 million.
Ava’s documentary “13th” had been nominated for an Oscar and the day before our interview, she should have been at a luncheon with the rest of the nominees. Instead, she was on set, in the mud, shooting “Wrinkle.” “I couldn’t go because I was here. And I felt happy, I felt joy because this is my priority and this is where I am.”
What drew you to this project?
This movie is everything that I hold dear. It’s spirituality, it’s social commentary, it’s science. And to find that all in one story that’s centered on a girl in search of herself is kind of a dream come true. I had never read the book as a girl, didn’t make it to my neck of the woods. I grew up in Compton, which is an inner city here, and I just never read this book. It was brought to me by the studio and I thought, “What an odd choice that they would ask me to do it.” But I’m so glad they did. It was unexpected and I’ve enjoyed every day.
Is having an inclusive crew and cast something you set out to do or is that instinctive?
I’m definitely conscious in everything that I do. It’s hard to explain how rare this crew is. Usually it’s an all white male crew. All. It took a lot of effort on behalf of both the studio and my producers, but they answered my call. Right when I met with Disney, I said I wanted to make sure that Meg was a girl of color and they embraced that. And I said your little Mrs. should look like all kinds of women, different shapes, sizes, nationalities, I mean come on, what’s the problem? And they immediately say, yep, okay, no problem. I mean I can’t even believe it.
They thought about you to do “Black Panther” but you are here. Do you think this is a superhero kind of movie?
Yes. For sure! She’s a badass. And she’s the most super superhero because she doesn’t wear a cape and she doesn’t have a costume. She’s a girl in jeans and T-shirt rocking the universe and going from planet to planet and literally slaying evil.
What do you hope people would take from this film?
Filmmakers get asked that question all the time and I never answer because I think the beauty of being an artist is for me to tell the story as well, as robustly, as creatively, as dynamically as I can and let people enter into it where they are. Everyone sees something different.
Do you ever feel like making a film purely for entertainment is useless?
No, I feel a sense of joy. I worked on “Selma” and I had to shoot three murders… I went straight into “13th” and I edited a thousand hours of racist violent footage into a hundred minutes so people can learn about the history of oppression in America. I feel joy to be able to capture something that represents hope and light. It’s important for artists to put beauty into the world. We have to tell the truth, we have to tell the tough stories but also, entertainment is escape and it restores you and nourishes you. It’s like food. It’s like fuel. Sometimes you have to fill up your tank again. This is me filling up my tank.