Ava DuVernay and Ryan Coogler are currently neighbors at the Disney lot, where they’re editing their respective blockbusters A Wrinkle in Time and Black Panther, making the kind of films they wouldn’t have dreamed of seeing in theaters as kids. At Vulture Festival L.A., the two directors spoke with Vulture editor Kyle Buchanan about their instant friendship, the importance of telling stories through their own personal lenses, and what the representation they are putting onscreen might mean to young audience members.
When the directors were asked what it would have been like to see their movies when they were 10-year-old, DuVernay was quick to answer. “Transformative. That’s the reason I did this,” she said. DuVernay was 32 when she first picked up a camera after a career as a film publicist, and she hopes her work will inspire others to start telling their stories even earlier. Her niece, for instance, served as a model for her version of Meg in A Wrinkle in Time. “I want her to see that it’s possible for her not to wait until she’s 32 years old,” DuVernay said. “She can walk through any door, even if it’s not there, and it will appear. A hero doesn’t have to be defined so narrowly.”
“I couldn’t imagine it,” Coogler said, considering his response to the same question. “I remember being fired up they were making a Ninja Turtle movie. When I was 10, I would’ve told you there’d never be a black president.” But even if Coogler can’t imagine what seeing Black Panther would have been like, he knows its effect would have been powerful. “To see a movie about someone who looks like me and is a king, and knows ancestry to the beginning and has an army of incredible folks around him,” he said. “I don’t know what I would have done.”