Rewind back to 1995. I was a 13-year-old girl in a Long Island-yet-still-kind-of Queens suburb in New York. I passed corner boys on Jamaica Ave. as I headed up the hill to my all-girls Catholic high school in Jamaica Estates for early orientations. A skinny kid with a funny name (to quote my GOAT hero, former president Barack Obama), I had a mess of curls and glasses so I could read the blackboard. While my friends paired up to experience first loves and heartbreaks, I mastered high school geometry in elementary school and ruled the spelling bee circuit, the one time I felt confident enough for others to hear my voice. While I bumped Notorious B.I.G. and Patra in my Discman, I never missed Beverly Hills 90210, and I had a penchant for emo bands like Incubus and the all-knowing Alanis Morissette, who I knew would solve my teen angst.
Although I loved the sultry sounds of Mya and Janet Jackson’s slick dance moves, and knew someday I’d experience all of the feels of the Waiting To Exhale soundtrack, I was really an introverted blerd who was much more at ease blending in the background with a journal and headphones than being prom queen.
Enter Madeleine L’ Engel’s A Wrinkle In Time. While reading about Meg Murry’s adventures with her little brother Charles Wallace, I pictured myself on the same mathematical quest. But I did not picture brown me, and I was okay with that reality because it was all I knew. Brilliant brainy kids were typically portrayed as male in narratives, so I was just happy a girl had the chance to be a hero this time around.
I was really an introverted blerd who was much more at ease blending in the background with a journal and headphones than being prom queen.
Fast forward to 2018. Luckily, I’ve seen myself reflected quite a few times now, and I’ve learned to be my complete self without needing those images. And perhaps I relate more to Gugu Mbatha-Raw who plays Storm Reid’s mother in the movie now that I’ve lived a bit of life. As I got older, there was the shyness of the late Aaliyah, the prepster vibes of Tia and Tamera Mowry, and a Columbia University student who was a problem on the piano, Alicia Keys, for me to see bits and pieces of myself in. And earth-shatteringly, there was the 44th president of the United States and his book that changed my life, Dreams From My Father. But there’s a refreshing vindication in Reid playing brave young Meg, even years after I first discovered this classic children’s novel.
While watching the A Wrinkle of Time trailer, my mother and I grabbed hands when we saw that Meg’s Black scientist mother had not given up on finding her white scientist father who was lost in time. There was something about seeing this young girl who looked and sounded like me at such a transformative age, solving math puzzles with ease and returning silently to her seat that deeply affected both of us in a very tangible way. Director Ava DuVernay has given young Black and brown girls a chance to see themselves as themselves—not the sassy friend, or the object of someone’s affection. While reading A Wrinkle In Time, I never thought that fairies could be anything but the ones I’d seen in Disney movies—round and older and white. But this time, we get to see three incredible actresses— Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling, and Reese Witherspoon— bold and beautiful and ethereal, in all their fairy glory.
I’ve always been taught by my parents that embracing a myriad of cultures is a great thing. That’s where the magic happens. I love being a vessel in which a few of those cultures meet. And I’m so excited to see that truly unfold on the big screen this weekend.