Ava DuVernay has already made history by becoming the first Black woman to helm a picture with a budget of over $100 million. How she’s making history again by casting a Black girl in her film adaptation of the classic children’s book A Wrinkle In Time.
Teenage actress Storm Reid who appeared in 12 Years A Slave has been announced as the actress who’s nabbed the coveted lead role in the movie. Madeline L’Engle wrote the young adult classic that has been part of teen and pre-teen reading lists for decades. There is a series of books with the character which means this could be a lucrative franchise film for both DuVernay and Reid.
DuVernay is directing the project, which has a script by Frozen writer and co-director Jennifer Lee. Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling are the A-listers in various stages of negotiations to board the high-profile project.
The Newbery Medal-winning book centers on Meg Murry, a young girl traumatized by the disappearance of her scientist father years before. She finds herself on an interplanetary journey with a schoolmate and her younger brother to find her father. They are aided by a trio of supernatural beings, Mrs. Whatsit (Witherspoon), Mrs. Who (Kaling) and Mrs. Which (Winfrey).
In a nod to the diversity of the modern world, Disney has made L’Engle’s main characters black or mixed race, making the Murry family a mixed-race one. The studio is looking for a nonwhite actor to play the schoolmate, Calvin O’Keefe. And the Mrs. characters already showcase a range of races.
With the casting of Reid, Disney continues to be the studio to beat when it comes to nonwhite leads. The company has the African chess drama Queen of Katwe, starring Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo, opening in September, and has Polynesian characters in the animated feature Moana, which releases in November.
DuVernay is hoping to break ground with the movie, making a big tentpole with a cast that is multicultural, or as some have put it, “mono-cultural,” something rarely reflected in the Hollywood studio world.
Reid, 13, made her film debut in the Oscar-winning Twelve Years a Slave, in which she appeared with Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender and Chiwetel Ejiofor. She booked some television gigs and nabbed a leading role inAmerican Girl: Lea to the Rescue. She followed that up with a role in Sleight, a sci-fi drama that generated strong buzz at Sundance.