Oprah Winfrey knows Storm Reid. "I was starstruck and really excited, and when I walked in the room, she was like, Stooorrrmmm!" the 14-year-old star of A Wrinkle in Time recalls of meeting the indomitable Ms. Winfrey for the first time. "I was like, Oh my god! She knows my name!"
Now, it's your turn to get to know Reid, while you're still ahead of the game. Having previously landed small roles in 12 Years a Slave and the sci-fi street magic flick, Sleight, Reid's casting as Meg Murry in Disney's A Wrinkle in Time is both her biggest gig yet -- upon being cast, she says, "I was screaming. I was crying. I was shocked. I was a whole ball of emotions!" -- and also an absolute revelation.
In Madeleine L'Engle's 1962 children's book, Meg, a young girl who travels through space and time in search of her missing father, is written as a white. "I knew I wanted it to be a girl of color," Ava DuVernay tells ET. With Disney onboard with her decision, the director set out on a worldwide casting search. "A force of nature named Storm Reid presented herself," DuVernay says, "and we fell to our knees in gratitude, because she is everything I dreamed of. She's Meg."
Reid's presence, front and center in a fantastical Disney tentpole, allows girls of color to finally see themselves reflected on the big screen. "She really fills in an absence that has been in these films for so long. Girls at the center, girls of color at the center," DuVernay says. Not seeing the greater importance of representation like this, however, misses a bigger point.
"We're talking a lot about how girls of color will respond to Storm, but Caucasian boys will also be seeing seeds planted in the film," DuVernay continues. "[Meg] says to her friend, Calvin, 'Do you trust me?' And he says, 'I trust you.' He follows a girl. He lets himself be led by a girl. These are the kind of seeds that we need to plant with young people, that anyone can lead and that it's OK to follow anyone who has the right idea. These are real formative things that we're looking to get out to a newer generation."
You can't talk about Reid without talking about DuVernay, who was doing the leading behind the scenes, the first woman of color to direct a $100 million movie. "It's an unfortunate thing that goes with it," she says, quick to acknowledge that she is not the first filmmaker who could have done this, but the first to get the opportunity. "I know that there are these other doors that are being knocked down, barriers that are being broken, I accept that. I celebrate it. But also, I'm just concentrating on my work."
Yet, for Reid, it was seeing a director like DuVernay at work, co-starring alongside the likes of Winfrey and Mindy Kaling, having these women as examples to look up to and admire, that inspires her to be someone that other kids can look up to. It's all in her new life motto, which she learned from the "wisest woman in the universe."
"Miss Oprah gave me some advice. She said, 'Don't waste energy on things you can't change in life when you can be using that energy on something positive in your life,'" Reid recites. "I'm still a young girl and I do look up to people. I do want to see that representation, and it's a blessing to maybe be that for some kids. I just hope I still continue to inspire them with this role and the many other roles I hopefully do."