Ava Duvernay has become the first African-American female director to helm a movie with a budget over $100 million. How did she end up as the one to set such as a record? It turns out, it wasn't that hard for her at all. Why not? Because she never had to sell the idea to Disney, Disney sold it to her. Duvarney recently revealed that Disney came to her with the idea to have her direct A Wrinkle in Time. It appears recruiting her was part of a larger plan at Disney to bring in more diverse filmmakers. According to Duvernay...
The interesting thing about this movie is that I did not pitch them, they pitched me. That's a rare thing. It happened because there were people at Disney that were forward thinking, so I have to tip my hat to them. It's the same company that asked Taika Waititi to make Thor, that had Ryan Coogler make Panther, and that has Niki Caro as the next woman with a $100 million budget, making Mulan. They're really doing some interesting things there, so I tip my hat to them.
While the world of film directing has been overwhelmingly white and male, it seems that Disney had made a decision on their own to change that with at least some of their projects. It's understandable why Disney might want to bring in an African-American director to direct Black Panther and while Ava Duvernay tells Collider she's not entirely sure why Disney wanted her specifically to direct A Wrinkle in Time, she does suggest that the fact that the lead character of the book is female, might have meant they were looking for a female director. With Niki Caro on board to direct Disney live-action Mulan remake, the idea certainly makes sense.
As far as why Ava Duvarney herself was chosen, the director credits a Disney executive named Tendo Nagenda who apparently saw Duvernay's movie Selma and saw something in that he thought would work for A Wrinkle in Time. From there, getting the job was apparently quite easy, as Duvernay knew many of the executives in her initial meeting with Disney, which meant she didn't need to sell herself, as everybody already knew what she could do.
Thor: Ragnarok had the biggest box office success of any film in the franchise when it opened last year and last weekend Black Panther had one of the biggest openings in movie history. Disney's decision to be inclusive in its directorial decisions is clearly working so far. In a couple of weeks, we'll get to see Ava Duvernay's A Wrinkle in Time, which, considering how popular the source material is, could be absolutely massive.