With both “Black Panther” and “A Wrinkle in Time” in theaters, remind yourself of that brief moment in time when Ava DuVernay, not Ryan Coogler, was attached to direct Marvel’s latest superhero movie. Everyone involved seems pleased with the way things turned out, and now Coogler has penned an open letter to the woman he calls “big sister” and who “makes the impossible look easy.”
When they first met, DuVernay “was already one of my heroes, and that was before she took one of the most sought-after scripts in Hollywood and turned it into the best film about Dr. Martin Luther King that anyone will ever make,” he writes of “Selma.”
“Ava is a pioneer. She makes the most distant dreams and ideas a reality,” Coogler continues. “She made a show called ‘Queen Sugar’ and mandated the use of female directors and key creatives a full two years before the great Frances McDormand shared with the world what an inclusion rider was. Ava is inclusion, equity and representation.”
Upon winning an Academy Award for her performance in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” last weekend, McDormand gave a rousing speech that ended with a call for inclusion riders — contract stipulations mandating gender and/or racial parity among a film’s cast and crew.
Since the two directors’ latest projects were released within weeks of one another, they were also in production at the same time. “I watched closely from across the hall at Disney while working on ‘Black Panther’ as my big sister inspired her crew with love and navigated the challenges of studio filmmaking, adapting a book that many people called unfilmable into a movie that explodes with hope, with love and with women warriors,” Coogler says of that experience. Read his full letter at espnW.