Ava DuVernay Lands DC Comic “The New Gods” + Talks Turning Down ‘Black Panther’ & Working w/ Jay-Z
Congratulations to “A Wrinkle In Time” director Ava DuVernay. The director has already booked another big-budget project. She will direct “The New Gods,” a DC Comics property created by the famed comic book artist Jack Kirby.
In other news, the writer, producer and director recently opened up about working on “A Wrinkle in Time”, “Central Park Five”, and collaborating with Jay-Z and Beyoncé on the “Family Feud” music video. See the excerpts below.
On how “A Wrinkle in Time” came to her:
Actually they called me and usually in Hollywood they want you to come in pitching and begging. It’s about a young girl (that we made black) who hops planets and fights the darkness looking for her absentee father who’s out in the universe. She’s not a super hero, she’s not a Jedi.
On working with a $100 million budget:
In L.A. we have a lot of 99cent stores its “MY THING” it’s like going into a dollar store with $100 you can make it happen. So it wasn’t any kind of pressure or problem in the studio. Wanted to make a film with that amount and I did that for them.
On how she got Sade on the “A Wrinkle In Time” soundtrack:
Disney asked who I wanted to do the song and so I said Sade. They said ‘we can get a letter to her manager to her direct London address.’ I wrote a ol’ skool handwritten letter and email and literally within 24 hours she called. It was her voice saying human words into my ears. She said she loved Selma, and she really cared about the script and movie. She wrote the song before we even shot the movie. We put her lyrics in the dialogue of the movie.
On turning down “Black Panther”:
I wanted to make a story about a girl. I wanted something more girl focused. I had just came off Selma and 13 so that was a lot of testosterone. So I wanted something more women focused. We actually directed both films right across the hall from each other. I’ve known [Black Panther director] Ryan [Coogler] for a long time we’re good friends. He was just coming off of Creed at the time and I felt strongly that the film needed to be made by a black man, a brother.
On feeling pressure from sales between “Black Panther” and “A Wrinkle In Time”:
Of course not. That’s a Marvel Superhero movie. This is a kid’s movie for like 8 to14 year olds about a girl trying to find her daddy. It’s very different. Black Panther cost twice as much as ours and it’s a different kind of thing.
On what’s so special on the culture in Compton:
It’s a huge space of blackness, and now brown as well. With beautiful blocks, or blocks that are more traumatic and something w/in that mix has made people tap into that creativity. When you look at Venice and Serena (Williams) the diligence to get up every day being the best at their craft. I don’t know about Compton but I know there is a texture there that just makes people want to hustle.
On the upcoming “Central Park Five” story:
I’m actually moving to New York for six months to make Central Park Five. I’ve been working with the brothers for about 2 years on it, researching, getting to know them, and writing the script. It’s not a documentary it’s a narrative so we’re casting now. We have to cast them as boys because they were 13, 14, and 15 when they were accused and convicted for a crime they did not commit. So I’m excited about
On directing Jay-Z’s “Family Feud” music video:
I was so stunned when one day I picked up the phone and it was Jay-Z’s voice on the line asking if I wanted to do a video. My thought was that I couldn’t make something cool for them. I don’t have the cars, the girls but it was really fun to do and he gave me a lot of freedom to do it. It reconnected me with my love for hip-hop.
On what inspires her:
Young people. I look at them and I say if we can get it right with them then by the time we need to be taken care of as a country as a community. We’ll have some kids that understand the legacy that they uphold and understand the things that we need. You create empathetic/solid strong kids now. That’s what this film is a love letter to our children.
By -Written/Interviewed by Dalvin Perkins