Audrey Wells passed away last week.
Professionally, she is a really great writer, a friend of writers, a lover of cinema, and a great filmmaker. She is what I call the best of the best of the best. Personally, she is an amazing woman who supports social justice causes for all: from animals to people to the planet. Socially and ethically, she champions for the oppressed, and helps women and minorities in cinema and in screenwriting. She has a husband and daughter. Her passing leaves an immense void in all those ways.
Her peers and admirers have made public statements like "she told stories of people whose voices were underrepresented, particularly women, and often developed female characters who were as complex as they were strong." Nina Jacobson said “She was such an incredible feminist voice — long before it was fashionable. What Audrey’s work was doing was expanding the depth and complexity of the female characters, and she gave them the opportunity to be as dimensional as white guys get to be all the time.””
Her scripts, some of which she directed, include The Truth About Cats and Dogs; Guinevere; The Kid; Under the Tuscan Sun; Shall We Dance; A Dog's Purpose; and The Hate U Give.
I saw The Hate U Give a few nights ago. It is based on a great novel, and here is a quick summary of it:
"Starr Carter is constantly switching between two worlds -- the poor, mostly black neighborhood where she lives and the wealthy, mostly white prep school that she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is soon shattered when she witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend at the hands of a police officer. Facing pressure from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and decide to stand up for what's right."
Man...talk about zeitgeist - that topic is one of the most socially relevant issue in America today, and based on that book, Audrey writes a brilliant script that leaves nearly everyone in the theater sad, frustrated, in tears, angry, hopeless...and hopeful.
An additionally sad element to this brilliant film that is going to win many 2018 film awards is this: Audrey passed away the night before the movie premiered.
So I see this film the other day, and I read about Audrey's passing the next night. I go for a long walk in the dark, and reflect on what she means to cinema, and the world, and her friends and family. And I think about my own life too. And then I go home and think, "man...if I could be...just a fraction of what she is and who she is....and what she leaves us...I will leave this world a better place, too." And I walk home hopeful, and start working on one of my scripts, and can;t help but think about her every few minutes, and how her stories and scripts and directed films put hundreds of millions of hours of happiness and hope into the lives of us people who are part of this thing known as The Human Condition. And I think....how lucky we are to be born in a world where we have the opportunity to make a lasting mark...and how we persevere through our struggles....and how we leave physically....and how we have a chance to always be here in spirit, because we made some lasting marks on those around us personally and on those around us outside of our circle....and I think....isn't this as good as it gets? To give this to others that Audrey gives like Audrey gives - isn't this as good as it gets?
I never knew her personally, and never saw her speak, but always feel like, when someone passes who influences/inspires me, and who leaves that kind of mark on the world...like that person never passes... and ultimately leaves a part of themselves in everyone in that sphere of their life and influence. That's a reason why I write in the present tense about them, like I have here. This of course doesn't provide any immediate comfort to those who are personally a part of her life, and who are now in profound shock, and are shattered by this new emptiness in their lives, and who must absorb the anger, the pain, the sadness and the loss for the rest of their lives. But I, this stranger to Audrey and her family and friends, will always remember her works and her profound efforts for others, and will always be grateful for Audrey Wells. Thank you for being you, Audrey Wells. People like you make this world a better place.
If you have any thoughts about her, or any of her works, or her efforts for women in film and screenwriting, or anything else, please share. This will eventually make its way to her husband and daughter, and I am sure they will appreciate to read how she touched us cinema lovers, writers and other creatives. RIP, Audrey Wells.