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Ava DuVernay talks ‘A Wrinkle in Time,' $100 million budgets, and diversity in Hollywood

Kai Acevedo

 // Mar 9, 2018

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A Wrinkle in Time, the second film adaptation of the 1962 book of the same name, hits theaters today, March 9. Starring Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling and Zach Galifianakis, Disney’s latest big-budget film is projected to be a big hit with moviegoers. It’ll also go down as a feat for the culture, as it’s the first film with a blockbuster budget of at least $100 million to be directed by a woman of color.

The film’s director Ava DuVernay was the center of the attention for Charlamagne tha God, Angela Yee and DJ Envy this morning. During her visit to The Breakfast Club, she revealed that she was a late-bloomer. “I didn’t pick up a camera until I was 32, which is old in director years,” she joked. She also spoke on what lead her to become a film director, working with a $100 million budget and the need for more diversity in Hollywood.

Ava DuVernay | The Breakfast Club
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On becoming a director: “I was just trying it out. Just playing with it. I was on these sets. I was a publicist for other filmmakers. I’d be on the sets - never with a woman. Never with a black person - watching people direct like, ‘I can do that.’ I never thought there would be a living from it. I just picked up a camera to enjoy it for myself and go see what I could make.”

On not knowing women could be directors growing up: “I never thought that I could be a director. I didn’t even know, first of all, that ladies could be a director. In my mind, I didn’t see people doing that at that time. Now I know there were amazing black women filmmakers doing it, but at the time, the only black directors I feel like I knew were Spike Lee and John Singleton. They’re guys, so it wasn’t something as a little girl I looked up to.”

On if A Wrinkle in Time’s $100 million budget made her nervous: “It’s like going into the dollar store with not one, but $100. Ain’t nothing wrong. You’re spending, you’re enjoying yourself, you have an idea for something you can make it happen so it wasn’t any kind of pressure or any kind of problem in the studio. I wanted to make a film for that amount and I was happy to make a film for that amount.”

On being the first woman to direct a film with a $100 million budget: “People say those things like it’s a source of pride. I know it’s a source of pride for some people, but for me it’s like for the industry, aren’t y’all embarrassed that it’s 2018? They’ll say it when I walk on stage and it’s like, ‘You might want to keep that on the low that it’s 2018 and this is just now happening.”

On if she prefers working with a big or small budget: “You know what, at the end of the day it’s not different when you are running out of hours and the sun is going down and you still don’t have your shot or the actor is not connecting with it. At the end of the day, all of the bells and whistles around it don’t make a difference to what is actually happening between the actors in front of the camera.

On the need for more diversity in Hollywood: “Look at all of the shows like Underground, Queen Sugar, Insecure and The Chi. There’s an upcoming show called Love Is that’s really cool. It’s film, as well as television. Barry Jenkins has another film coming out. Steve McQueen has another film coming out. He did 12 Years A Slave. But the bottom line is that you can count all of those people on two hands. So while we are in a moment where we can all see each other there needs to be a lot more.”

Watch Ava DuVernay's interview on The Breakfast Club above.

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