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"The only way to create change in our world is through people willing to be uncomfortable," said the actress, who played Meg in the 2018 Disney movie

By Benjamin VanHoose
October 09, 2020 11:18 AM
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storm reid
Credit: Atsushi Nishijima/Disney

Storm Reid is reflecting on the racist backlash sparked by her casting in the 2018 family film A Wrinkle in Time.

The 17-year-old actress opened up to InStyle about the outcry from some internet trolls when she was cast as protagonist Meg in the Disney film, directed by Ava Duvernay and based on the classic 1962 novel by Madeleine L’Engle.

“Some people had problems with me playing Meg because they’d loved her as a Caucasian girl for so long,” said Reid. “They were uncomfortable to have that shift, but the only way to create change in our world is through people willing to be uncomfortable.”

It wasn't entirely negative responses that followed the casting decision, however. Reid also recalled fans reaching out about the leap in big-screen representation.

“When the film came out, little girls would come up to me and say, ‘Thank you for allowing me to see a girl who looks like me save the world,’ ” she said. “That’s when I realized my career was bigger than myself.”

A Wrinkle in Time also starred Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling and Oprah Winfrey — three Hollywood role models Reid said she's glad to have supporting her.

“It’s a blessing to have amazing women like Ms. Ava, Ms. Reese, Ms. Mindy, and Ms. Oprah in my corner championing me,” she said. “I try to make them proud, but I know I’m not always going to do or say everything the right way. I’m not perfect, but the goal shouldn’t be for me to be perfect.”

storm reid
Storm Reid
| Credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty

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Reid said there's another fellow actor looking out for her: Zendaya, who plays Reid's older sister on the Emmy-winning HBO series Euphoria.

“I’ve been a fangirl of hers since the beginning of time, and now she’s like my bonus big sister,” Reid said of Zendaya, 24. “She’s so genuine, and whether I need advice about ‘growing up in Hollywood,’ as they say, or just advice as a teenage girl trying to figure out life, she’s always a phone call away.”

Since making her major movie debut in 2013's 12 Years a Slave, Reid said she has set out to make conscientious career moves that expand representation in entertainment.

“The projects I choose to be part of are very intentional,” she said. “I see each one as an opportunity to have a progressive conversation and represent people and situations that are underrepresented. Young girls deserve to see themselves onscreen. Because how can you feel like you’re able to succeed when you don’t see yourself succeeding?”

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Duvernay, 48, previously talked to PEOPLE about casting Reid in the fantasy film, recalling how the young actress showed skill and maturity on set through “the kinds of questions, the things we talk about and her just being able to find the nuances of the role.”

“Some kids, they’re saying the lines in a way that they think, but they’re not going deep into character,” said the director in 2018. “Storm, that’s my girl. She’s got grit and gusto and grace. I feel grateful that we get to kind of introduce her.”

“I couldn’t get her out of my head,” DuVernay added of the casting process. “Every girl that would come in, I would say, ‘She’s really good, but she’s not Storm.’”