Devan Coggan
October 05, 2017 AT 11:51 AM EDT

Before long, Storm Reid will head off to the far-off planets of Ixchel, Uriel, and Camazotz.

EW caught up with the 14-year-old actress at PEOPLE’s One to Watch event this week, where the young star opened up about playing the lead role of Meg Murry in Ava DuVernay’s upcoming sci-fi adventure A Wrinkle in Time. Reid has landed big-screen roles before in films like 12 Years a Slave and Sleight, but A Wrinkle in Time marks her biggest project yet — and a rare example of a young woman of color playing the lead role in a big-budget sci-fi movie.

“It means everything to be a girl of color and play Meg Murry because Meg Murry is, in the books, a Caucasian little girl,” Reid told EW. “It’s just surreal because I get to empower other little African-American girls around the world and say that you can be a superhero and you rock and you can conquer the world and you are beautiful just the way you are and your flaws are nothing and you’re awesome. It feels really good to be able to inspire not only little girls [but] everyone.”

Based on the beloved novel by Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time follows Meg as she sets out to find her missing scientist father (Chris Pine). Meg teams up with her younger brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) and classmate Calvin O’Keefe (Levi Miller), setting out on a dangerous interplanetary adventure through space and time. Along the way, they encounter and befriend three mysterious celestial beings known as Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling), and Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon).

Atsushi Nishijima/Disney

A Wrinkle in Time is a step into sci-fi for the Oscar-nominated DuVernay, and the project makes her the first woman of color to direct a live-action film with a budget of more than $100 million.

“She’s incredible, and she’s so hands-on,” Reid said about her director. “She doesn’t just want the movie to be great — she wants everything to be great. She wants to make the crew feel comfortable [and] the cast. So whatever she needs to do, she’s going to make it happen. She’s just a superwoman of directing.”

Earlier this year, DuVernay spoke to EW about her vision for Wrinkle and why she specifically decided to cast a young actress of color in the lead role.

“The first image [I had in my head] was to place a brown girl in that role of Meg, a girl traveling to different planets and encountering beings and situations that I’d never seen a girl of color in,” she said. “All of those scenes struck my fancy, and then it was also something that [Disney VP of production] Tendo Nagenda said to me, which I’ll never forget. One of the things that really made me want to read it was when he said, ‘Ava, imagine what you would do with the worlds.’ Worlds! ‘Planets no one’s ever seen or heard of,’ he said. There aren’t any other black women who have been invited to imagine what other planets in the universe might look and feel like. I was interested in that and in a heroine that looked like the girls I grew up with.”

A Wrinkle in Time will hit theaters March 9.

Reporting by Maureen Lee Lenker

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