Mar 8, 11:08 AM EST

'A Wrinkle in Time' is a big leap for its teenage star

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LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Storm Reid tried to play it cool when Ava DuVernay told her she'd gotten the lead role in Disney's "A Wrinkle in Time," but it wasn't long before the tears started flowing.

"I flipped out," says Reid, now 14 and in the ninth grade.

The Atlanta-native started acting at age 3 after she told her mother that she wanted to be a "stuperstar." She's had bit roles in television ("NCIS: Los Angeles," ''Chicago P.D.") and film ("12 Years a Slave," ''Sleight"), but nothing even close to something like "A Wrinkle in Time." As the heroine Meg Murry, she is in nearly every frame, navigating mean girls at school, the loss of her father and even interdimensional travel.

"It's such an important story to be told," says Reid, who had done a book report on the Madeleine L'Engle novel in the 6th grade. "She goes on this beautiful journey and finds herself and becomes more accepting and learns that she is worthy of being loved."

DuVernay saw Reid very early on in the casting process and said every girl after had to measure up to her. Eventually she trusted her initial impulse and went back to Reid.

"This whole thing doesn't work if you don't have a great Meg. She goes from completely depressed to defiant to exuberant to joyful to determined to fighting evil. It's every emotion," says DuVernay. "She has the whole thing on her shoulders. She's incredible."

The experience of filming "A Wrinkle in Time" was incredible, Reid says, not only because it meant acting alongside the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling and Chris Pine, but because of DuVernay's set.

"Our set was so inclusive with women and men and different races and sexualities. It was kind of like the United Nations," Reid says. "She has a beautiful vision and a beautiful mind."

Reid looks up to actors like Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep and Natalie Portman and loves movies like "Hidden Figures" that tell stories that aren't so widely known. She appreciated that all of her A-list co-stars were humble and down to earth and says that she is still just a normal teenager with a normal life outside of acting.

She says people keep telling her how much she's going to change with her new raised profile. But Winfrey disagrees.

"Miss Oprah told me those people are not right," Reid says. "She told me, 'You're going to stay the same but the people around you are going to change.' I feel like I'll be recognized more once the movie comes out but I'm still the same girl."


Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr

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