Classic children’s lit fans around the nation were probably psyched to hear in February that celebrated “Selma” director Ava DuVernay was attached to a forthcoming Disney adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. Then in July, it was announced that Oprah would be joining the cast, and Mindy Kaling and Reese Witherspoon were reportedly in talks to join, too.
Now, the news is just getting better: “12 Years a Slave” alum Storm Reid will be playing lead Meg Murry, the preteen heroine of the fantasy/sci-fi novel. The 13-year-old actress made her film debut in the 2013 Steve McQueen–directed project, and has also acted in roles for “NCIS” and “Chicago P.D.”
The upcoming adaptation marks a milestone for DuVernay: She’ll become the first woman of color to direct a live-action film with a budget upwards of $100 million. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Disney is also looking for a nonwhite actor to play Meg’s friend Calvin, a schoolmate who travels with her and brother Charles to other planets.
If you need a refresher in fantasy children’s literature of the 1960s, here’s a brief synopsis: Meg and Charles’ father, a scientist, has gone missing after working on something called a tesseract. After a series of curious happenings, the misfit Meg joins forces with her younger brother and Calvin — a fellow outsider at school — to rescue Mr. Murry from his extraterrestrial exile, with the help of some supernatural neighbors.
The themes addressed in L’Engle’s classic are just as relevant today as when they were penned more than half a century ago. Her characters battle with good versus evil, love versus hate, moral responsibility and embracing one’s individuality.
The book won the Newbery Medal in 1963, and more recently, Chelsea Clinton named it as an influential book of her childhood during her DNC speech.
What makes this news so exciting — aside from getting to see one of our favorite books come back to the big screen — is Disney’s apparent commitment to selecting a diverse cast for this project, for characters who have previously been portrayed as white, and in doing so, presenting a project for viewers that better reflects the diversity of our world.
It’s much-welcomed news after this past Oscar year’s #OscarsSoWhite landscape. Giving actresses like Reid leading roles is certainly a celebration for the books.