On Saturday, December 2—Congresswoman Maxine Waters and actress Amandla Stenberg took the stage at the Teen Vogue Summit for an intimate, cross-generational conversation today in Los Angeles. Earlier in the day, A Wrinkle in Time director Ava DuVernay was joined by actresses from the film Rowan Blanchard and Storm Reid for a conversation on representation in Hollywood led by Teen Vogue editor in chief Elaine Welteroth.
The Teen Vogue Summit brought together over 500 young activists and leaders from across the country for two-days of inspiring talks and workshops with top civic, entertainment, tech and business leaders, including Hillary Rodham Clinton, Women’s March organizer Paola Mendoza, poet and artist Cleo Wade, Black Lives Matters activist DeRay McKesson, Compton Mayor Aja Brown, and actresses/activists Yara Shahidi, Rowan Blanchard and Lilly Singh.
Waters on the United States being on the brink of war with North Korea: “I believe we are on the brink of a war with North Korea. We have a President that’s taunting and bullying, calling Kim Jong-un a “little Rocket Man.” Well we know there’s something wrong with Kim Jong-un. He’s a little crazy too. So, the two of them [Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un] squaring off with each other is going to lead us right into a war and this is to be taken seriously.”
Waters on allegations of Facebook and Twitter meddling in the 2016 Presidential campaign: “Let me tell you how disappointed I was to find out the role that Facebook and Twitter had played in that election. It never dawned on me that they were selling ads to Russian interests. The more I looked at it and did my research and got my staff involved—and I’m still looking into it—I want to know more about who they are targeting and how they are trying to sell ads to them.”
Waters on Donald Trump: “I think this is the kind of discussion we’re going to have to have for some time to come, Donald Trump does not deserve to be President of the United States of America. I am totally offended by him. And I want other people to get in touch with themselves and how they feel about him. This man is deplorable and he’s dangerous. You cannot depend on anything he says.”
Waters on her love of vintage clothing: “When I was growing up, we learned how to shop and find bargains. Because of that I grew up learning the value of vintage clothing. And I loved going to the Goodwill and looking at the labels. I still love vintage clothing because of my experience in St. Louis, Missouri with my mom shopping for bargains at the Goodwill.”
Ava DuVernay, Rowan Blanchard & Storm Reid Conversation Highlights:
Reid on the importance of young women speaking up against sexual assault: “I’m glad that I’m here at 14 saying that it’s not right to inspire other young girls to say ‘it’s not right’ too. If it’s happening to you, speak up, don’t be afraid. There’s nothing they can do, even if they say they’re going to do something, there’s nothing they can do. You need to speak up, you need to speak out, not only for yourself, but for other young women that feel threatened, not only in this industry, but in other industries.
Rowan Blanchard on realizing the importance of representation in Hollywood: “I always had a Disney princess who looked like me. I always had a TV show that looked like me. I always had a big movie that looked like me. I distinctly remember when Princess and the Frog was about to come out, my mom and I were watching a special that Oprah did on it, and she was interviewing young black girls about what tit means to have a princes that looks like them, and I just remember being taken aback and thinking, ‘Oh wow so my experience is so, so small compared to everybody else’s’ and I wasn’t even thinking that there are so many experiences that are not incorporated and told.”
DuVernay on why she was excited to take on A Wrinkle in Time: “Some people look at A Wrinkle in Time and think “well it’s just a Disney movie,” but for me it was the whole world. It was the possibility of taking a classic movie with these classic tropes, classic movie tropes, with the biggest studio in the universe, and saying, ‘What if we take these roles that are usually seen one way and just subvert that.’ Just deconstruct it and make sure that we represent all kinds of people.”
Ava DuVernay on mentorship: “There is no black woman filmmaker that I can look to who has worked in the studio system consistently at a certain price point. There was no one to ask questions to. So my intention is to be that for any of you that’s gonna be the next one out there. So that you can call me or we can have that conversation in the same way I have talk to Rowan and I talk to Storm. It’s important that we pass the knowledge along, pass the love along and pass along the idea that we could lead in any moment. “
DuVernay on adding the ‘Veronica’ character, played by Rowan Blanchard, to the A Wrinkle in Time movie: “There was no character that really allowed Meg to deal with issues of friendship with a girl. Her good friends who she travels along on the journey with are two boys. So it was important to insert that story in there, and I think that’s one of the things why it’s imperative that women and girls reclaim the narrative and start to become storytellers and to tell the stories
Storm Reid on the importance of people coming together to rid of the ‘IT’ in the darkness: “I have really strong belief that we have we have the ‘IT’ in the book and the movie, and then we have an ‘IT’ right now, in our world. So I am really grateful that I got this opportunity to inspire people around the world – not just young people – but people and tell them that we need to come together, we need to be united because we’re not going to get anywhere. We might get far in some of us coming together, but in order for real change, we all have to come together and be one to basically save the universe because it’s ugly right now. It’s real ugly.”
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Jamie Broadnax is the creator of the online publication and multimedia space for Black women called Black Girl Nerds. Jamie has appeared on MSNBC's The Melissa Harris-Perry Show and The Grio's Top 100. Her Twitter personality has been recognized by Shonda Rhimes as one of her favorites to follow. She is a member of the Critics Choice Association and executive producer of the Black Girl Nerds Podcast.