DuVernay, in New Orleans to work on Oprah Winfrey's television series, Queen Sugar, is looking for:
- A 14-year-old mixed-race girl of African-American and Caucasian descent. "This girl is questioning her life, her place in the world and her family," a casting description reads. "While troubled, she possesses untapped strength and intelligence which carries her through her search for truth."
- A 5-year-old mixed-race boy of African-American and Caucasian descent. "This boy is EXTREMELY intelligent and articulate. He is strong and loving and hypersensitive."
- A 16-year-old boy who is an ethnic minority. "He is a handsome, fit, caring young man who becomes a friend to the above two kids."
Director Ava DuVernay
These appear to be the character descriptions for the main characters: L'Engle's mousy-haired Meg Murray, her younger brother Charles and their friend Calvin, a redhead in the novel. I'm sure there are going to be some furious book fans who demand the actors look as much like the author's character descriptions as possible. It's difficult to take a beloved literary character and see them onscreen looking so utterly unlike the picture you drew in your imagination. It's like they're a different character completely. And that's the way it is. Cinematic characters are different characters completely from their literary origins. As much as we long for our favorite books to be transferred to the screen exactly as we saw them in our bookish imaginations, that's just not the reality. Whether they have red hair or black hair doesn't ultimately make a difference, whether they are caucasian, mixed race, hispanic, asian or black, it's what's inside a character that counts.
Clearly, the only way to address the lack of diversity in movies is to do what DuVernay is doing, cast people of color in place of white faces.
Filming is supposed to begin this fall with a location yet to be finalized. Thoughts?