Making a movie is a team effort, and sometimes help even comes from outside of the official team. J.J. Abrams took this to heart when he was shooting Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Even though principal photography on the movie concluded in November 2014, the director and his crew allotted for re-shoots later on. Before those commenced, Abrams showed a rough cut of The Force Awakens to his friend, Selma director Ava DuVernay, and it looks like we have her to thank for a cool moment in the lightsaber battle between Rey and Kylo Ren. As he put it:
I showed an early cut to my friend Ava DuVernay, and she had a bunch of great suggestions. One of them was she really wanted to see Daisy, in her attack on Ren, have one really cool moment.
In the new audio commentary on the Star Wars: The Force Awakens 3D Collector's Edition (via Yahoo), J.J Abrams revealed that it was Ava DuVernay who suggested that Daisy Ridley's Rey get a chance to shine in a close-up during the duel. As a refresher, there comes a point when Kylo Ren and Rey lock lightsabers, and Kylo attempts to seduce her to the dark side. In the original version shot during principal photography, Rey simply called him a monster and pushed back. However, in the reshoots, she takes Maz Kanata's earlier advice to heart by closing her eyes and letting the Force flow through her.
Now newly fueled, Rey goes on the offensive and pushes Kylo Ren back, even managing to knick him with her blade a few times. This sequence culminates in her striking an especially powerful blow and knocking him to the ground. This is the cool moment at Ava DuVernay wanted to see from the new Star Wars heroine. Abrams continued:
Boom! It's a little thing but it really connects you to her intensity.
Before Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released in theaters, marketing implied that John Boyega's Finn would be the new Jedi protagonist due to him being the only one seen wielding Luke Skywalker's lightsaber. While the former First Order stormtrooper put up an admirable fight against Kylo Ren, he was quickly defeated, and unless Episode VIII or Episode IX say otherwise, he is not a Jedi. Rey, on the other hand, regained consciousness and used the Force to call the lightsaber to her hand to continue the fight. She eventually gained the upper hand, but a fissure soon separated her from her opponent as the planet slowly disintegrated. It stands to reason Rey and Kylo will clash again in the near future, and that fight should prove to be more intense given how both of them will have improved their Force abilities.