Picture it: You're 16 years old and just landed your first big-budget Disney film. Oh, and it stars none other than Oprah, Reese Witherspoon, and Mindy Kaling. Sounds like a lot of pressure, right? Well, Rowan Blanchard took the experience all in stride—except, of course, when it came to sitting next to Oprah on a panel for the first time.
Blanchard plays a high school mean girl in Disney's A Wrinkle in Time, in theaters on Friday, March 9. We sat down with the multitalented actress, activist, author, and style star at the film's press junket in Los Angeles, where Blanchard told us about what it's like being in the same room as Oprah. "I was just like, 'Wow, thank you, God and this universe because I did not see this for myself,'" Blanchard told us about promoting the same film as the icon.
Read on for our full chat with Blanchard, including her high praise for her co-stars, her best-selling book Still Here, and, naturally, some thoughts on '90s trends and Levi's jeans thrown in for good measure.
What was it like behind-the-scenes on this movie? Were there any funny or memorable moments on set?
I didn't get to meet Oprah when I was on the set because [our characters] don't cross paths, but there was this moment where she was in her trailer and I knew she was in there—I was walking past it, and I knew that she's just right there. So it was just very, very overwhelming to be on the panel with her. I was just like, "Wow, thank you god and this universe because I did not see this for myself."
How did your role come about, and what was your initial reaction when you landed it?
I found out that Ava was making A Wrinkle in Time how everybody else did: through a major press release. I had been following her on Twitter for a while, had been reaching out to her, and she followed me back and we started talking a little bit. I sort of put it out into the universe that I want to be a part of A Wrinkle in Time in whatever capacity, and I got this call to go in for this part that wasn't in the book. I went in and I got it.
We started working pretty quickly after that. It was just this really overwhelming, very surreal experience to be a part of this. A Wrinkle In Time feels like the gift that keeps on giving. To be part of this project, it feels so monumental and so unique. And the fact that it was the first film that I've done in a while feels like a blessing.
Oprah and Reese Witherspoon are some of the most outspoken advocates of Time's Up, so what do you admire about their activism and how they use their voice?
Well, I've been really fortunate in my experience recently in this industry to be fostered and cared for by older women actors, women directors, and women writers who have guided me and been there for me when I have questions about this industry, and about navigating it as a young women—Reese being one of them.
So it's just been a really incredible five months to get to know other actresses—which surprisingly doesn't happen because we're always historically separated and never put in the same room. So it's felt very amazing to get to be able to know actresses and women who are just here to make this industry a better place.
Let's talk about your new book, Still Here. What do you want readers to come away knowing after reading it? How would it differ from a teenager reading it and an adult reading it?
Before the book came out, I got the physical copies about a month in advance and I gave it to very select people in my life. The response when I gave it to teenagers was, "Wow, this is exactly what I felt, I remember feeling like this when I was 13 or 14." It was very much an echoing of "This is what I felt, this is very comforting for me, and I'm not alone." When I gave it to a lot of adults, their response was initially, "I'm so shocked that my kid felt this way and maybe I did nothing to help them."
I found that dichotomy very interesting—teenagers go on the internet every day, tell people that they are depressed, and then when I make a book about it, people are shocked. I think this is a very interesting time for listening between generations. We're seeing that with the Parkland kids, with my book being one of the pieces of art that's made by teenagers that's bridging that gap.
Now for some fashion questions. What is the number one thing you want to buy for summer?
I'm always looking for a cute pair of short jean shorts. I mostly just buy vintage Levi's—that's always easy because the fit is always so good.
If you had to wear one outfit every day for summer, what would be like our go-to outfit?
I've been really into buying old '90s slip dresses. They are so easy and comfortable, so I'd probably just wear those all the time with kitten heels, a cute bag, and earrings. I love earrings.
You're in the middle of a major press tour for A Wrinkle in Time. What are the most comfortable heels for the red carpet?
I will be uncomfortable on the red carpet; I will be hurting.
Does it have to be that way?
For me, it does, because beauty is pain. So I will go to the premiere, I will wear the heels, then I will go back in the car and I will wear slip-ons.
Watch Rowan Blanchard in A Wrinkle in Time, out in theaters on Friday, March 9.