Reese Witherspoon, Oprah Winfrey, and Mindy Kaling are excited. And their enthusiasm is infectious, as they describe how Hollywood is experiencing a realization as it acknowledges the huge audience who “wants to see more real women on every screen.” When the trio attended the red carpet for the premiere of “A Wrinkle in Time” during the D23 Expo in July, it was clear the three ambitious powerhouses created a buzz as the release of the film, based on the novel of the same name and centering on the story of young Meg Murry and her brother braving a dangerous journey to a new planet, drew closer.
Witherspoon is beaming, and with her blonde hair streaming down her back and in a simple white dress patterned in red wildflowers, glowing complexion, and upturned nose, she looks like sun-kissed Southern charm. Over the past seven years, Witherspoon has worked to create her own film production studio, Hello Sunshine, to tell the stories she wants, hire more female storytellers, and create opportunities for women. Witherspoon also launched a self-designed fashion and decor brand, Draper James.
Besides her is Winfrey, dark shoulder-length hair forming distinctive curls and in stylish clear frames and a fitted white tunic, who embodies both the lesser talked about grit and the glitzy glamour behind immense success and preeminence. A constant fixture on the Forbes list, having amassed a net worth of over 2.7 billion, she recently spoke out vocally at the Golden Globes in support of #MeToo and shared her experiences, along with Witherspoon, both among the movement’s most prominent supporters.
Kaling, the bestselling author and comedienne of “The Mindy Project” fame, is in a short-sleeved white dress splashed with streaks of black, straightened locks framing her face, and her smile is positively contagious. She’s paved the way for South Asian women in entertainment and comedy and established a name for herself as a producer and actor starring in her own sitcom, telling the stories of women of color and her personal journey in a way that is hilarious and relatable.
“Well, it’s got great messages in it. The film is about empowerment and about finding yourself,” Witherspoon shared on the red carpet in an exclusive interview with Screen Slam preceding the film’s release. “And this young girl is at the center of her story traveling through the universe, trying to find her missing father, but also learning about herself and about the world and how it’s important to cultivate positivity and happiness and find the good in life.”
Winfrey echoed her enthusiasm for the project.
“We’ve been talking about this in our trailer, getting made up every morning since January 8, and so the fact that it’s actually happening and July is here and we get to talk about it is so exciting,” she said in the Screen Slam interview. “Because when we all parted at the wrap party, I was like, ‘See you at D23.’”
Kaling was humbled and excited by the experience.
“And the experience of the movie is incredible, but I’m a sitcom actress and I’m at D23, so this is very, very fun,” she said to Screen Slam. “To be with the movies of this caliber, I mean, Ava is just, she had such a vision and when I saw the trailer for the first time about 20 minutes ago, and I’ve never heard of anything, like, this is so exciting.”
Winfrey found it to be a one-of-a-kind film that allowed children to take part in its magic and world-building and see themselves as the characters.
“Yeah, I’ve never seen anything like that. I’ve seen a lot of things,” Winfrey replied in the Screen Slam interview. “I’ve never seen anything like that. First of all, just coming in this morning and these people are lined up for blocks and I see the guys driving. I go, ‘Where are these people going?’ And he said, ‘They’re going the same place you’re going.’ Oh my goodness, really it’s incredible — the love for the brand, the love for Disney people coming, and not even knowing what they’re going to get, except they believe in the brand and they’re here to support us. Seeing people dress up as little Olafs and Elsas and little Mary Poppins, or I hope they dress up as little Meg Murrys next year, you know, that would be incredible.”
Kaling took the opportunity to discuss the importance of representation and visibility for girls of color.
“That’s a really good point, too, because like when you win, somebody like Ava Duvernay steps up and creates characters, like, that look like us and and act like us and sound like us,” she said to Screen Slam. “I think it gives young girls and audiences out there new ideas of what superheroes can be, so hopefully we’re setting a new idea in our trailer from the first time you put on your costumes and wigs.”
Winfrey pitched in about toys and costumes for children to enact their own fantasies and stories with the film’s characters and to represent a diverse array of ethnicities and colors.
“We want dolls, so we can’t wait for the dolls,” she exclaimed in the Screen Slam interview. “I said we will, I’m not going to lie, I’m really excited about the wrong excited about the dolls. That’s what’s changing costumes and wigs.”
Witherspoon replied excitedly, “Yes!”
By taking on these projects and championing the diverse voices of these stories, these women are changing the game.