Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time” was published in 1963 and has become a middle-school staple for generations. There was a TV movie adaptation in 2003, but only now are we getting a big-screen adaptation of the sci-fi fantasy story about a 13-year-old girl who journeys through the universe on a quest for her missing father.
The director of Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time” is Academy Award nominee Ava DuVernay (“Selma,” “13th”), with a cast that boasts Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Chris Pine and Michael Pena. But the lead is 14-year-old Storm Reid.
Born in Atlanta, Reid has been acting professionally since she was three. She’s been in numerous commercials and has appeared on TV shows such as “NCIS: Los Angeles” and “Chicago P.D.,” and she’s had roles in films such as “12 Years a Slave” and “Sleight,” but the part of Meg Murry in “A Wrinkle in Time” is next-level stuff.
Reid was in Chicago this week to talk about “A Wrinkle in Time.” This is an edited version of our conversation.
Q. Your name is Storm, and storms are such a big thing in the book and the movie.
A. I know, it’s so cool. It’s like the universe had this in mind. In the book and in the movie, it starts off as a “dark and stormy night.” Things are meant to be.
Q. You read this book on your own long before they were casting the movie, true?
A. Yes, I read the book in sixth grade for a book report, and then I got the part when I was in eighth grade. It was such a great book and I loved it, and I loved the character.
Q. If Hollywood had been casting a big-budget version of this movie in the early 1960s, shortly after the book was published, they probably wouldn’t have even considered such a diverse cast.
A. Yes.. It’s so amazing to have so much representation and inclusion within our film, not only within the cast but with the crew. It was like the United Nations. And going back to what you said about the book coming out in 1963 — Miss Madeleine [L’Engle], maybe she didn’t fully know she was making a book that was so inclusive and so representative… but I feel she did a beautiful job.
Q. Just a couple of weeks after “Black Panther,” we have a big movie where the lead is a young black girl. That’s a cool thing, but it could also feel like a big responsibility.
A. Yes, but I feel it’s an amazing responsibility. Looking back on it, when I was eight or nine, of course I did see MYSELF on TV so in a way I was privileged. But there definitely needed to be more [roles for children of color]. So for me to be able to be that [inspiration] for young girls that look like me — but really for all girls, to show them they can do anything, that’s amazing.
Q. The cast includes Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling, but this story is your character’s story. You have to carry the movie.
A. It was intimidating at first. Even though I’ve been acting since I was three, this was the first time I was the lead. I think the film was an 80-day shoot, and I was on the set for 78 days. But it didn’t feel like I was going to work every day. I was just a part of this amazing journey.
Q. When you met Oprah, did you get the full Oprah greeting?
A. I did! As soon as I walked in the room, she was like, “STOOOORM!” And I was like, “Oh my God she knows my name.” She’s so grounded. She has love and passion for what she’s doing. She doesn’t act like “Miss Oprah Winfrey.” People put her on a pedestal, which she so deserves, but once you get to know her, she’s so regular and like a normal person.
Q. How do you balance career with wanting to have a relatively normal teenager’s life?
A. My family keeps me grounded. I feel like there’s this great balance between me being an actress and traveling around and doing all this great stuff, but also me being the regular teenager, like going to Disneyland with friends and just hanging out. I still go to school, I still have to do chores. I’m grateful for my family and my peers.
Q. How do you navigate Social Media?
A. I just try to take a positive approach with my Social Media, with my Instagram. I just want people who go to my page to kinda feel inspired. If they’re having a bad day maybe they can go through my page and feel a little bit better about themselves. And I just ignore the people that are saying mean things, because I don’t want to get into the darkness they’re in, because I feel like we need light now in these dark times.