Hollywood is all abuzz about Disney’s latest trailer that was recently released online featuring writer/producer/director Ava DuVernay’s most anticipated film project to date, “A Wrinkle in Time.”
The 1963 classic children’s fantasy written by Madeleine L’Engle follows a little girl’s search across dimensions of time and space to rescue her scientist father.
Everyone in Hollywood is talking about the fact that Ava DuVernay will be the first Black woman to helm a live-action feature with a budget of more than $100 million. Only two other women have directed live-action films with a budget in this range. Kathryn Bigelow was the first in 2002 with “K-19: The Widowmaker.” Patty Jenkins is the second with “Wonder Woman.” And now Ava DuVernay will be the third. And she’ll be the first woman of color.
Once again, DuVernay is making history. A distributor of independent films, DuVernay has made a name for herself by staying true to her convictions.
In 2017, DuVernay was named one of Fortune Magazine’s 50 Greatest World Leaders. A graduate of UCLA, DuVernay is the founder of ARRAY, a grassroots distribution and advocacy collective dedicated to the amplification of films by people of color and women. ARRAY was named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative firms.
Speaking of her convictions, DuVernay produces “Queen Sugar,” the award-winning family drama on Oprah Winfrey’s Network (OWN). It is a well-known fact that for Season 2 of “Queen Sugar,” which recently returned, DuVernay was again determined to give more women—especially gay women and women of color—the chance to work. Instead of going through the typical Hollywood channels, she sought filmmakers whose intimate, character-driven work had inspired her over the years, even resorting to tracking people down through Twitter.
“The “Queen Sugar” roster includes women who rank as some of the greatest independent filmmakers to come out of the festival circuit in the last 10 years but have nevertheless, struggled to work in the business,” says DuVernay. “Directing the show represents a chance for these directors to hone their craft, gain experience and stay busy in an industry where you’re only as good as your last credit. It puts you in the game; you can’t play if you’re on the sidelines.”
If there is one thing DuVernay understands is the importance of getting your name and what you do out to the movers and shakers of the Hollywood system. Prior to filmmaking, DuVernay worked as a marketer and publicist for 14 years. She knows the ‘lingo’ and what is considered important to the Hollywood powers that be.
DuVernay made her directorial debut with the critically-acclaimed 2008 hip hop documentary, “This is the Life” and has directed several network documentaries, including Venus VS for ESPN. She has directed significant short form works including “August 28: A Day in the Life of a People” commissioned by The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture as well as acclaimed fashion and beauty films for Fashion Fair and Prada.
Here’s a brief list of Ava DuVernay’s accomplishments that reflect her rise to the top; “Middle of Nowhere” (2012) won the Best Director Prize at the 2012 Sundance film festival, making her the first Black woman to receive the award. She is the first Black female director to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award. In 2014, DuVernay directed the historical drama “SELMA,” which garnered four Golden Globe nominations and two Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. Nominated for the Academy Award and winner of a Peabody Award as well as the BAFTA for Best Documentary, Ava DuVernay’s “13TH” is one of the most critically-acclaimed films of 2016.
Is it any wonder that the Walt Disney Studios would hitch their wagon to her star? In October 2010, it was announced that Walt Disney Pictures had retained film rights to remake the live-action adaptation of the 1963 novel “A Wrinkle in Time.”
During that time DuVernay was just hitting her stride.
At the recent D23, Disney Fan Expo in Anaheim, the much anticipated movie trailer took front and center and attendees got their first look at Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time” to a cheering crowd.
For those who are not familiar with the story and the fabulous characters, here is a more detailed look at what “A Wrinkle in Time” is all about. Meg Murry (Storm Reid) and her little brother, Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) have been without their scientist father, Mr. Murry, for five years, ever since he discovered a new planet and used the concept known as a ‘tesseract’ to travel there. Joined by Meg’s classmate Calvin O’Keefe (Levi Miller) and guided by the three mysterious astral travelers known as Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which, the children brave a dangerous journey to a planet that possesses all of the evil in the universe.
The other characters include Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Mrs. Murry, André Holland as Principal Jenkins, Zach Galifianakis (The Happy Medium), “Wonder Woman’s” Chris Pine (Mr. Murry, the missing dad) Reese Witherspoon (Mrs. Whatsit), Mindy Kaling (Mrs.Who) and Oprah Winfrey (Mrs.Which).
Oprah Winfrey hadn’t read the book when DuVernay first approached her about the role. “When Ava mentioned it to me and told me it was a character who is one of the wisest women in the universe,” she said, “and is an angelic, celestial being who is going to get to wear amazing costumes and get to work with Reese [Witherspoon] and Mindy [Kaling] as part of the Mrs. team—who wouldn’t say yes to that?”
DuVernay said she let her mind explore the possibilities that lay in front of her in bringing this story to life. “It’s just a classic story, the kind of legacy of the book, and fans who love it and when you hear about why, for such personal reasons. It’s a story with a girl at the center—a girl who time travels, travels the universe in search of someone she loves, her father, and in the process she finds herself.
DuVernay, warns that things will look differently to those individuals who remember the book from their children reading it or their own childhood. She told The Hollywood Reporter, “I saw myself in it, and I saw so many different kinds of people in it. A family story wrapped in an epic adventure where you see worlds you’ve never seen before.” She said of the film’s diverse cast that she wanted to assemble a group of people “that looked like you that looked like the real world.”
Clearly you can sense the passion Eva DuVernay has for her work and that she’s eager to help others thrive. If you want to learn more about DuVernay and hear her speak and interact with other successful Hollywood writers, producers and directors visit her website at http://www.avaduvernay.com.
“A Wrinkle in Time” opens March 9, 2018.