A Divine Woman

Oprah Winfrey on the role that took 56 years to come to light.

Interview and images courtesy of Disney.

It has been 56 years since the sci-fi novel, A Wrinkle In Time first made its way onto the bookshelves of young people around the world – and in 2018, the film adaptation was finally released. The book was controversial at the time as it focused on quantum physics and was seen by some as “ungodly”; now the story is helping to break the glass ceiling in Hollywood with it marking the first time ever a studio has handed a budget of over $100 million to a woman of colour.

Director Ava DuVernay decided to use the opportunity to create a more racially diverse cast of actors than what was described in the books by making the main character, Meg Murray, an African-American girl from an interracial family. With this, DuVernay also cast Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon and Oprah Winfrey as Meg’s galactic guides throughout the story.

Winfrey, plays the celestial being, Mrs Which, who helps Meg (played by Storm Reid) find her Father and gain the confidence she needs to defeat the forces of evil. She recently spoke at a press conference about how she knew the character was right for her and why it is so important for us all to embrace the message of hope within this movie.

Strong black female magic is what we’re talking about. Let’s move to Miss Oprah because when else am I going be able to say that? The role [of Mrs. Which] was absolutely perfectly tailored to you. It’s like art imitating life. Did you feel that when you were playing the character?

OPRAH WINFREY: “Yes, I did. [LAUGHTER] As a matter of fact, I actually did. Now, you all have heard me say this before and it’s so true. Ava and I are talking on the phone… So when I heard that she was going to be filming in New Zealand, I said, ‘I’m going. I’m going. I’m just gonna go.’ And she goes, ‘What do you mean, ‘go’?’ I go, ‘I’m just gonna go hang out with you for however long it takes, I’m gonna block it on my schedule, I’m gonna be there, I’m gonna watch you shoot and say action.

“She said, ‘Well, if you’re really serious about that, you’d actually come to New Zealand?’ I go, ‘For sure, I’m gonna be there. And she said, ‘Well, why not take a look at the script? I’ve been wanting to ask you to do this but I didn’t want to pressure you because of our friendship.’ I go, ‘Okay, I’ll do it.’ I didn’t even know what it was. ‘I’ll do it.’”

What’s different about this project as opposed to some of the other ones that you’ve collaborated about? Not just the script obviously, and the cast, but in terms of the process with working and how you arrived to this point.

OPRAH WINFREY: “Well, first of all, you have Disney money. [LAUGHTER] [It] fills my heart, every time I think about Ava and her dreads and her sneakers, and these big cranes and all of these men running around taking direction from her. And to see her be the master of that, to orchestrate all of that was, was powerful and inspiring. And it touches, I think, the part of us that recognises, ‘Oh yeah, we can do that, we’ve always been able to do that’, and I was just so proud to be associated with her and her ability to make this film possible. So that’s what was different.”

You say in the movie that we need to restore hope. And that’s a beautiful talk. But do you think it’s possible to be hopeful in times like this one?

OPRAH WINFREY: “Oh yeah, for sure. I think the darkness is there to help bring out the light in all of us. And if you think about it, if we turned all the lights off in this room, and you just held one person, just held a candle, you would start to dissipate the darkness. You would banish the darkness. And look at how much darkness it would take to actually engulf all the light that every candle would hold in this room. So it just takes a little bit of light. Just a little bit of light. That’s what we’re hoping for. A little bit of light. And if everybody can get that message, that’s how we have hope in the world. We’re looking for warriors who can bring hope back.”