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Du Vernay calls what she's done "the feminizing of fantasy," a change from the big-budget, CGI-reliant films mainly made by men that moviegoers are used to."It's fantasy and it's through the lens of a woman for the first time, at this kind of budget, so a big part of it for me was hair, costumes, makeup, design.Rather, she was fully aware of the ebbs and flows that contribute to the ever-churning world."I was writing in my journal yesterday and ended a paragraph with, 'I think it smells like hope,'" she said."And we have to hang on to that."It's nice to think L'Engle would've been pleased with how her story finally made it into theaters.You know, if you're gonna let me play with it, I'm gonna play with it, so we had ."But at the end of the day, it's a director, period, who made a movie, period, that everyone is hoping will be as awesome as it sounds."The essential quality of Ava is not, to my mind, tied to her woman-ness. She also just helped get the Time's Up campaign off the ground in Hollywood.It's tied to her Ava-ness," Kaling told While making the film—which was shot largely in New Zealand and, judging by the enviable photos and stories shared by Reese, Oprah and Mindy was as fabulous as it seemed—Du Vernay says that she recaptured some of the childlike wonder she didn't know she had anymore as an activist and filmmaker who's known for taking on serious subjects, like the institutional racism plaguing the U. "This film is for young people, or people who are young at heart, and really I thought that I had become so hard through the things that I care about—justice and equality, the criminal justice system, , that I thought I'd lost the kid in me," Du Vernay told E! "But making this movie showed me little Ava's still in there."She had never shot a film that involved large-scale special effects before, but, as Winfrey told , Du Vernay was "in her element." (Even if Oprah herself preferred to just be suspended in midair once, to get it over with, rather than go up and back down for breaks.) "It just would make my heart swell, that she had taken on something that was this enormous, and was managing it so well," Winfrey said."She makes everything easy," Du Vernay told us about Winfrey in return.

That's a rare thing," De Vernay told Collider recently.

And people still haven't given up on the idea of Winfrey running for president, with Stephen Colbert going as far as to let "God" himself beg her to jump into the race when she appeared on out into the world.

While the optics are more lavish, at the film's core is a message that meshes perfectly with what Du Vernay and Winfrey have been championing already—and which we've been hearing a lot of from different messengers lately in the at-times seemingly impossible quest to focus on what unites rather than divides."Meg finally realizes that love is stronger than hate," Madeleine L'Engle, who died in 2007, said in a 2000 interview for PBS' been asked to read tea leaves or otherwise predict the political or cultural climate in 2018.

About that all-star cast..."We really cultivated a family, it was really like a spectacular girl squad," Du Vernay told E! "It was like a girls trip every day with those ladies. The affection that you see from them is real, and it's continued on long after we've wrapped shooting."It's a rare thing," she acknowledged, "to get that, to find that, especially with women this powerful in their own lives.

But they all just humbled themselves and came together as a group, and it's spectacular to see, really nourishing."And the squad goals are real: They've been on a running group text ("Oprah's a big GIFer") throughout post-production, and they had most recently convened at Winfrey's house for dinner and a screening of , with wine and truffle popcorn.

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