Director Ava DuVernay penned an homage to the vibrance and boldness of First Lady Michelle Obama, highlighting the privilege it has been for the nation to have such an exceptional black female role model over the last eight years. The essay, on Elle.com, is excerpted from a new anthology titled The Meaning of Michelle: 16 Writers on the Iconic First Lady and How Her Journey Inspires Our Own.
“Many of us saw a woman to be admired,” DuVernay wrote. “A woman to be trusted. Scratch that. Many of us saw a Black woman to be admired. A Black woman to be trusted. There it is.”
DuVernay praised the inspiring strength of the relationship between Barack and Michelle Obama, and the closeness of their family. She also nodded to a few more of the first lady’s most-beloved characteristics – grace, fashion sense, devotion to family and an absence of “silliness.”
“Even after eight years of watching them daily in the press, the fact that the most powerful man in the world is a Black man is still breathtaking to me,” DuVernay wrote. “The fact that he goes home to a tight-knit, loving family headed by a Black woman is soul-stirring. That woman is Michelle. Michelle! That name now carries a whole world of meaning. And a whole world of memory. And a whole world of magic.”
DuVernay is the first black woman to be nominated for a best director Golden Globe. She’s also set to become the first black woman to direct a film with a budget of more than $100 million. She’s spoken out frequently about institutional racism and sexism, and in particular how Hollywood excludes people of color.
The Meaning of Michelle was released Tuesday.
On A Wrinkle in Time's opening day, Ryan Coogler penned an "ode" to friend and director Ava DuVernay that calls her a "pioneer" and praised her for her passions for "inclusion, equity and representation."
"Ava DuVernay is someone who makes the impossible look easy. It's why I feel privileged to call her my big sister. I met her in 2013, but she's one of those people who you feel like you've always known," Coogler opens his piece, which published Friday (March 9) on ESPN.com.
The Black Panther director recalls how DuVernay, a publicist turned director, was "already one of [his] heroes" before he met her, given that he admired her 2010 and 2012 films I Will Follow and Middle of Nowhere. Coogler also nods to her work on 2014's Selma -- "she took one of the most sought-after scripts in Hollywood and turned it into the best film about Dr. Martin Luther King that anyone will ever make" and her work on the Netflix documentary 13th, which Coogler says DuVernay completed after the death of her father.
In addition to the quality of her work, Coogler also talks about DuVernay's efforts to improve diversity on her sets, including her decision to hire all-female directors and women in important creative roles for season one of her OWN Network show Queen Sugar, something she plans to continue in season 2. "Ava is a pioneer. She makes the most distant dreams and ideas a reality," Coogler wrote.
Coogler then called DuVernay's new film A Wrinkle in Time "beautiful," writing, "I watched closely from across the hall at Disney while working on Black Panther as my big sister inspired her crew with love and navigated the challenges of studio filmmaking, adapting a book that many people called unfilmable into a movie that explodes with hope, with love and with women warriors. But above all, it's a film about a little black girl with glasses -- like my mom, like my wife, like my big sister Ava -- who refuses to accept that her dad is lost. The main character in the film, Meg, uses her love, her hope and her kickass skills as a scientist to bring him back, and maybe she saves the universe along the way."
This isn't the first open letter Coogler has penned since the blockbuster release of Black Panther: He wrote a heartfelt open letter to viewers after his Marvel Studios film enjoyed a historic opening at the Presidents' Day box office.
As of Friday evening, A Wrinkle in Time was tracking for an above-$40 million debut this weekend, while Black Panther was looking to cross the $1 billion mark.
Read the full letter at ESPN.com.
This article originally appeared on The Hollywood Reporter.