TORONTO — Rising Canadian filmmaker Stella Meghie wanted to stick closely to the source material with her new teen romance ”Everything, Everything.”
In Nicola Yoon’s bestselling young-adult novel, on which the film is based, the diversity of the characters and their interracial relationships aren’t a focal point.
In fact, race isn’t mentioned at all in the glossy big-screen drama, which hits theatres on Friday.
“Nicola’s book is beautiful and diverse and as a result, the movie is as well,” said Meghie, the film’s director.
“It’s not really talked about in the book much, not at all, and so I didn’t talk about it in the movie. It’s just about the themes and the characters.”
Amandla Stenberg (known for playing Rue in “The Hunger Games”) stars as Maddy, an 18-year-old bookworm with a rare immunodeficiency illness that prevents her from leaving her hermetically sealed house.
Nick Robinson co-stars as her love interest, Anika Noni Rose plays her mom, and Ana de la Reguera plays her nurse. J. Mills Goodloe wrote the screenplay for the film, which was shot mostly in Vancouver and also in Mexico.
“Maddy, the main character, looks the way she does because my (daughter) looks the way she does,” said Yoon, who was born in Jamaica and lives in Los Angeles.
“My husband is Korean-American. I always say that I don’t wake up thinking that we’re an interracial couple or I don’t wake up thinking about the struggle or anything like that.
“I usually wake up thinking about coffee and what my little girl wants. Usually she wants blueberry pancakes for breakfast, so that’s what’s on my mind. And I think life is like that,” she continued.
“Everyone’s just alive and living their lives and certainly can’t go around thinking about all the adversity and all the obstacles that are in your way, because then you will not live a joyful life. And these are joyous kids and they’re just in love.”
Yoon said she started writing the book when her daughter was four months old and she was a nervous mom.
“I was one of those moms that was like, ‘Oh, we’ve got to make sure everything is clean, every surface, no eating dirt. Wash your hands before you touch the baby,’” she said, noting she’s no longer that way.
“So it started from my own insecurities about being a mom and wanting to protect her and wondering what life would be like if I had to protect her for her whole life.”
The film is Meghie’s followup to her debut indie feature “Jean of the Joneses” and could be a big breakthrough for the Toronto-raised filmmaker, who has several projects in development and has been touted as “one to watch.”
“It’s really nice that people are interested more now and I get more phone calls,” Meghie said with a laugh. “It’s nice to have had ‘Jean’ and then on the back of that, gotten this so quickly.”
It’s a major turn from her previous career in fashion public relations.
“I’ve really always been a writer at heart and probably still consider myself more of a writer than a director, and I just wasn’t being fulfilled,” Meghie said of her career change.
“So I just jumped into the chance, went back to school and it paid off.”