The cast of “A Wrinkle In Time” along with director Ava DuVernay and screenwriter Jennifer Lee gathered on Sunday morning for a press conference to discuss the film adaptation of the classic science-fiction novel. Written by Madeleine L’Engle and published in 1962, it’s the story of teenage Meg Murry who, along with her little brother Charles Wallace and classmate Calvin O’Keefe, goes on a quest across the universe in order to save her father. She’s assisted in her journey by the supernatural celestial beings Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Whatsit, who fight against a darkness that threatens to take over the universe and the hearts and minds of those who live in it.
Screenwriter Jennifer Lee was asked to describe the first initial meeting she had with Director Ava DuVernay but quickly shifted the discussion to the necessity of DuVernay for this film: “I had daydreamed of Ava directing this. Her incredible knack for storytelling, emotional storytelling, is what this film needed because this is a journey across the universe but the heart of it is a family story and an empowering young girl.”
DuVernay is known for her dramas dealing with extremely serious content such as “Selma” which is a telling of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery and “13th”, a documentary focusing on the US prison system and how it enforces racial inequality. “A Wrinkle In Time” is a tonal departure for her and says it required her to get in touch with her inner child.
“This is a film for young people and people who are young at heart. And for me, I had to ask myself, ‘Do I still have a heart, first of all? And is there an inner child still in me? Can I tap into the eleven-year-old, the twelve-year-old, the thirteen-year-old, in me? [Can I] find that light that I used to have, that dreamer?’ And so, I got to do that for two years. I got to really get in touch with all that I thought I would be when I was young and really tap into that and try to create some magic with this great group of people.”
The film’s protagonist Meg Murry is played by fourteen-year-old Storm Reid who says she hasn’t experienced any nerves concerning the film thus far but confessed that may change during the next day’s premiere because it will then be open to the public to critique. “This is our baby, and this is our thing that we created and we love it so much and it’s sogreat but we’re giving it to people for them to criticize it, for them to either like it or love it or not like it all. So that’s a little bit nerve-racking but I feel like we did a good job and I’m really proud of us.”
Mindy Kaling, who plays Mrs. Who, spoke about her love for the science fiction genre and how participating in this film was a childhood fantasy come true, especially since she felt that as a dark-skinned Indian girl and woman, she never saw herself reflected back in science fiction/fantasy. “It was a genre that largely did not love me back. I never saw any representation of a dark-skinned Indian woman, Indian girl, in anything that I saw. And it’s a really peculiar thing when you grow up loving something that shows you no love back, it’s such a pure love because you’re not getting anything from it… To be part of this and to be on a green screen stage in harnesses because you’re doing a science fiction/fantasy movie, it’s so fun because I finally feel welcomed with open arms to something that has ignored me completely.”
The press conference wrapped up beautifully when Oprah Winfrey mirrored the sentiments of her character, Mrs. Which, when she was asked about the film’s optimistic message and if it was indeed possible to have hope in seemingly dark times. She insisted, “I think the darkness is there to help bring out the light in all of us. If you think about it, if we turned all the lights off in this room and one person just held a candle, you would start to dissipate the darkness, you would banish the darkness… We’re looking for warriors who can bring hope back.”