Photo credit: Paras Griffin, from left to right: Anika Noni Rose, Stella Meghie, and Amandla Stenberg
You know a movie is really good when you watch it twice and enjoy it just as much as the first time. Plus, there is something simply magical about a film based on a book written by a Black woman, directed by a Black woman, and starring two Black women leads.
Stella Meghie’s film adaptation of Nicola Yoon’s best-selling book "Everything, Everything" brilliantly tells the story of 18-year-old Maddy Whittier, (played by Amandla Stenberg) who has never been outside due to an autoimmune disorder that causes her to be allergic to literally everything. Tony Award winner Anika Noni Rose plays the over-protective mother, who also doubles as her daughter’s doctor. As the film includes a diverse cast, natural hair moments, and a refreshing look at first love, it takes audiences on a journey of fear, self-discovery, and taking risks, while also delving into a special mother-daughter relationship.
Meghie made her feature directorial debut in 2016 with 'Jean of the Joneses', a dramedy about three generations of women in a Brooklyn, Jamaican-American family. The multi-nominated film helped get Meghie signed to the Creative Arts Agency (CAA) and put her in the position to bring Yoon's "Everything, Everything" to the big screen.
During the panel discussion at the Atlanta screening last month, Stenberg explained that a woman of color would typically not be cast in the role of Maddy.
"I feel like this is the type of role that would traditionally be carried by a white girl," Stenberg said.
However, because of Yoon’s vision to create characters that reflect the diverse world we live in, a character like Maddy could also be a young, multifaceted Black girl with natural hair.
Stenberg further explained: "I feel like when you see Black women... you always have to see them strong or weak. Something that we need is nuanced characters and (Maddy) is that."
Our founder Eunique Jones Gibson moderated a Q&A at the CAA in Los Angeles with the director herself. While there, we were reminded of the talent that is Stella Meghie. Meghie, who fought for 'melanin moments' during the editing process, said when the author of the book saw the main character Maddy’s brown skin "fill up the screen, she cried."
"Just to see brown skin across a wide screen…that was important to me. It was important in the color session," Meghie said.
From championing those 'melanin moments', to choosing music that connects with the younger generation, to staying true to Nicola Yoon’s book, Meghie's amazing work shows why having a Black woman at the helm of stories like these is EVERYTHING.
You can see for yourself this Friday, May 19, when the film hits theaters nationwide.