If anyone knows how to manifest the life she wants, it’s Oprah Winfrey. In 2013, the “Queen of All Media” decided she wanted to be friends with award-winning filmmaker, Ava DuVernay, and that’s exactly what she did.
“It was the glasses,” Winfrey told a roundtable of journalists at the press junket for their latest film A Wrinkle in Time. DuVernay, who typically dons a rounded/rectangular shaped black spectacles wore a similar pair almost five years ago when Winfrey first Googled her at the behest of their mutual friend, David Oyelowo.
“She had such a warm, inviting presence,” Winfrey said, discerning a kindred spirit from the director’s picture that popped up on her screen. “I thought, ‘I’m going to be her friend.’”
As a woman who has had to learn to keep her circle tight after decades of superstardom, Winfrey didn’t quite know how to make new friends.
“I haven’t made friends in a really long time, so I just thought, ‘What do you do? Do you call and say, ‘I want to be your friend?’’”
She said yes to Oprah
Winfrey decided on a better plan. She threw a Mother’s Day event at her fabulous Montecito estate and invited DuVernay and her mother to come.
“I thought, ‘if she could bring her mother, maybe she’d be my friend. So, I had an event at my house created just so I could meet her, so I could manifest that [friendship] for myself.”
Of course, DuVernay, said yes as both she and her mother accepted the invitation and tried to play it cool.
“I didn’t want to be one of those [people who ask for favors,” Winfrey said of being careful to express to DuVernay that she simply admired her and wanted to hang out. “Because people do this to me all the time where they show up and they look like they’re needy or that they want something. I didn’t want her to think, ‘Oh, I want to be in your movie.’”
“Like that’s what I would’ve thought!” said DuVernay.
The sweet sisterhood
Since their initial meeting, Winfrey has produced and starred in Duvernay’s award-winning film Selma, and executive produced DuVernay’s hit show, Queen Sugar on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Now, Winfrey stars in A Wrinkle in Time, another manifestation of their friendship.
Talking on the phone one day, DuVernay happened to mention she was going to be scouting locations for her next film (A Wrinkle in Time is by the way the first film with a $100 million budget where a Black woman director is attached.) When Winfrey heard the location would be in New Zealand, she got excited.
“I’m going to come!” she promised her friend, simply for support and to experience the island’s fairytale-esque beauty.
The scouting was going to take a couple of weeks and since Winfrey was going anyway, DuVernay asked her to read the script and consider playing the role of Mrs. Which, a supernatural being who leads a child (played by Storm Reid) into other dimensions to help save her lost father.
Winfrey admits she never imagined herself being directed by a Black woman when she first started acting back in 1985. Their collaboration has not only been an extension of their friendship, but according to Winfrey, evidence of God having a bigger dream for both of their lives.
Brooke Obie is the author of the award-winning Black revolution novel ‘Book of Addis: Cradled Embers.’