Everything starts with a story. Just ask Sasha Williams, a 16-year old with big dreams. Last month, Williams didn’t just get a selfie — she got a hug and words of encouragement from Ava DuVernay, the directing powerhouse whose work, from 13th to Selma, tackles inclusion and racial division head on and continues to find new ways to define the art of storytelling.
The occasion was an event organized by HP, Disney and Nissan to bring together girls from Black Girls Code, a nonprofit that nurtures the tech skills of girls of color, to celebrate the release of DuVernay’s big-budget film, A Wrinkle in Time. With seven chapters in the U.S. and South Africa for girls 7 to 17, Black Girls Code runs after-school programs, summer camps and hackathons where local groups build projects ranging from websites to robots.
Giddy and tearful, Williams was electrified by her encounter with the director. “I've always looked up to [Ava]” says the young California native, who hopes to one day become a virtual-reality game designer. “And now, for her to take on this story about a little black girl trying to become a warrior, about being who you are, it’s just really inspiring.”
Williams wasn’t the only one energized by the moment. At the event, part coding challenge/part affirmation, 40 or so girls were treated to the first public showing of the film, as well as talks with several of the movie’s stars, including Storm Reid, who plays the story’s hero, Meg Murry; Reese Witherspoon; Chris Pine; and Gugu Mbatha-Raw.