In Hollywood, there are few measures that connote a director’s power greater than budget. This week, it became clear that Ava DuVernay has passed a power-player milestone, becoming the first woman of colour to direct a live-action film with a production budget over $100 million, Disney’s upcoming A Wrinkle in Time.
DuVernay’s adaptation of the 1964 Madeleine L’Engle novel was on a list that the California Film Commission released on Tuesday of projects receiving tax incentives to shoot in the state. A Wrinkle in Time will bring $85 million in qualified spending to California, state officials said, and receive an incentive of $18 million, the largest since the state programme expanded in 2014.
DuVernay, who directed Selma in 2014 and executive produced Queen Sugar, a series premiering on OWN September 6, joins a tiny group of women live-action directors who have worked at such budget levels — Kathryn Bigelow for the 2002 movie K-19: The Widowmaker, and Patty Jenkins, who is directing next year’s Wonder Woman movie.
Among live-action directors of colour, she is also in elite company, a group which includes Star Trek Beyond director Justin Lin, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer director Tim Story and Fast 8 director F. Gary Gray.
As a woman of colour helming a live-action studio tentpole movie, she will be in a category of one.
When Women and Hollywood blogger Melissa Silverstein mentioned the milestone on Twitter, DuVernay replied with a quote from Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa: “Stones in the road? I’ll save each one. Then one day I’ll build a castle.”
A Wrinkle in Time, based on a screenplay by Frozen director Jennifer Lee and starring Oprah Winfrey, is due in 2017.