On the cusp of the release of her new film A Wrinkle in Time Ava DuVernay tells ELLE why Time is really Up
'I think there is a tendency to say we [people of colour] never saw ourselves on television, when actually it's more about infrequency compared to the mainstream. While the pickings were relatively slim, I did see myself, and I have to tip my hat to those creators. Growing up, I saw a black family represented on TV in The Cosby Show, and with fantastic sitcoms like Living Single and Martin.
'My teenage years offered me access to the world of Spike Lee films – small whispers in between the avalanche of images by the dominant culture from which we were excluded.
'In my own career, I've tried to continue offering images and stories that elongate the view of black life in film and TV and infiltrate that dominant gaze in some way. Whether through my independent films, my work for brands like BET [Black Entertainment Television] and Ebony magazine, my series Queen Sugar on a black-woman-owned network, or my depiction of black life in studio films – from Selma to 13th to A Wrinkle in Time – my goal is the amplification of reality.
I've tried to continue offering images and stories that elongate the view of black life in film and TV
'I've worked to assert my voice by fiercely holding on to the notion of independence. I don't go to Hollywood rooms with hat in hand, because I don't feel that way. I feel that what I have to offer is valuable, and if you don't do it or buy it or validate it, it only means it's going to get done another way. But it will get done. I may not be able to make the project for however many millions, but that's OK, because I know how to make things work at any number. And I enjoy it. And there's power in that.
'We have to find new ways to work without permission; new ways to go through doors that are closed to us; new ways to create our own audiences and tell our own stories and create our own doors.
I've worked to assert my voice by fiercely holding on to the notion of independence
'In terms of where the world is now, A Wrinkle in Time is a timely story, yes, but with its themes of love and darkness, it's also a very timeless story. Madeleine L'Engle published her novel in 1962, and people have loved it ever since. There have always been dark times and there's always been love.
'My advice to aspiring film-makers? Don't wait for permission. Give permission to yourself. And do it now.'
This piece was published in ELLE UK's March issue. A Wrinkle in Time is out on 9 March