Ava DuVernay has just made history: she will be the first woman of color to direct a live-action blockbuster with a budget surpassing $100 million. This is the budget for her upcoming Disney film, A Wrinkle in Time.
DuVernay, who directed the award-winning Selma, joined the project in February.
She chose A Wrinkle in Time over Marvel’s Black Panther–which would still probably have a budget surpassing $100 million.
The director is now among a small group of filmmakers who have been trusted enough by major studios to make a movie costing more than $100 million. She is also among the only three women to direct a film on that scale: the minuscule group includes Kathryn Bigelow for K-19 and Patty Jenkins for Wonder Woman. She is also among the few directors of color who have made a film that expensive.
The film will star Oprah Winfrey and will be written by Jennifer Lee, Frozen’s co-director. DuVernay took to Twitter to mention that she was not the first woman of color capable of directing a movie on that scale.
Not the first capable of doing so. Not by a long shot. Thanks to @DisneyStudios for breaking this glass with me.
At the Democratic National Convention, Chelsea Clinton revealed that A Wrinkle in Time was a book that had completely captured her imagination when she was a child. The novel, written by Madeleine L’Engle in 1964, focuses on Meg Murry, a bespectacled girl who goes on a quest to find and save her scientist father. According to DuVernay, the novel is simply about a time-traveling black girl who travels through the universe.
DuVernay’s milestone, though extremely positive, just highlights how much Hollywood is lacking in diversity. At the Academy Awards early this year, the nominees were predominantly white while there were brilliant performances from black actors like Idris Elba. This is an issue that covers most of filmmaking; minorities are grossly underrepresented when it comes to high-profile directors, actors and even composers. To DuVernay, the solution is to simply make the workplace more inclusive. Now that she’s reached that milestone, it should be easier for other women of color to do the same.