Ryan Coogler is at the helm of one of the top 10 grossing films domestically, and he has nothing but love for the woman whose film hoped to overtake his in box-office receipts on its opening night last night. In a touching tribute exclusively to ESPNW.com (an ESPN spin-off directed at women), the Black Panther director expressed his unending admiration for A Wrinkle in Time's Ava DuVernay on the day of her film's opening: "Ava DuVernay is someone who makes the impossible look easy."
Add to her list of impossible achievements the fact that she brought a film version of A Wrinkle in Time to the screen at all, considering the book's reputation as unfilmable, and the fact that the project had been an unrealized dream of its producer since at least the mid-'90s. But Coogler's praise ranged far wider than this recent notch in DuVernay's belt:
In her life before I met her [the two met in 2013] she was a highly admired Hollywood publicist who owned her own company. By then she had written, produced and directed two amazing films, about black women finding hope while experiencing grief and loss, all while maintaining a production and distribution company to finance and distribute underserved independent films made by women and people of color. She 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.
That film was 2014's Selma, starring David Oyelowo as the Reverend Martin Luther King and depicting the 1965 voting rights march he led, along with other civil rights leaders such as Congressman John Lewis, from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. With that film, DuVernay became the first African-American female director ever to be nominated for a Golden Globe.
Coogler went on to praise the important work DuVernay did with her adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, echoing his earlier feeling that the director has been like a big sister to him:
But above all, it's a film about a little black girl with glasses -- like my mom, like my wife, like my big sister Ava -- who refuses to accept that her dad is lost. The main character in the film, Meg, uses her love, her hope and her kickass skills as a scientist to bring him back, and maybe she saves the universe along the way.
See Coogler's full tribute online at ESPNW.com.