Ava DuVernay is making history as the first woman of colour to direct a live-action film with a budget of over $100 million. The Oscar-nominated director opens up to Marie Claire about taking on the beloved fantasy adaptation of “A Wrinkle In Time” with an A-list cast that includes Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling and Chris Pine.
“I never had any intention of making a $130 million movie,” DuVernay says. The “Selma” and “13th” director only had one goal: “To keep making films of any size. That’s why I make documentaries and features and television and commercials.”
“Until now, I had budgets to make movies about people talking in rooms,” she says. Her first feature, “I Will Follow” was made for just $50,000 in 2010. “But with ‘Wrinkle’, there are no rooms, there are no limits! There are only doors to walk through.”
While a big budget Disney movie may not have been in her sights, DuVernay relished the opportunity to take on the chance to work so different to her previous work.
“One of the great things about ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ has been world creation, being able to play with big visual effects and all that stuff that so few women and directors of colour get to do,” she tells the magazine. “For women and people of colour, sci-fi takes on a much more potent space in our consciousness and imagination. It feels a lot more robust when I read the work of sci-fi or fantasy writers who are women, or women of colour, because there is a muscularity to it that speaks to a present, a real situation, and it’s not just escapism for fun’s sake. It’s escapism for survival, for sanity – it’s imagining a world that’s not here.”
The 1962 sci-fi novel by Madeleine L’Engle wasn’t on a young DuVernay’s reading list – her books of choice involved Nancy Drew and Sweet Valley High – the director now says the story has deep messages.
“It’s a book that takes place out in the universe, but it’s really about interiority. It’s about who you are to yourself… how you see yourself from the inside out,” she says.
“A Wrinkle In Time” hits theatres on Mar. 9.