I am pumped about Star Wars The Force Awakens. My giddiness is actually a bit of a welcome surprise. When Disney announced the Sequel Trilogy, I wasn’t sure if I’d be quite as excited this time around. Maybe I’m jaded from the Prequels. Maybe I just thought I might be too old to really geek out over Star Wars.
Well, the excitement is here, as full and real as it was 16 years ago in the lead up to Episode I. I think part of the reason I’ve been able to rediscover that old enthusiasm is because Disney and Lucasfilm seem to be doing so much right. The president of Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy, doesn’t hesitate to acknowledge that what Star Wars has in fictional alien diversity, it lacks in real human diversity. By watching the first six movies, you’d think that most of the humans in the Star Wars galaxy are white men (and primarily British). Kennedy has a problem with that, and she’s using her position to change it.
At Star Wars Celebration 2015, the yearly international convention dedicated to the universe, Kennedy spoke at a panel about the lack of women on screen. When the moderator asked which charaacter she’d like to be, Kennedy responded, “I don’t have many choices.” She let that statement hang in the air for a moment, making an important point from the light-hearted question. She continued, “But that’s going to change.”
Though there was only one new female actress announced in the original casting, Kennedy prosmised, “There are going to be a lot of wonderful new [female] characters.” That seems to be the case. In addition to the female lead Daisy Ridley and returning star Carrie Fisher, Gwendoline Christie, Lupita Nyong’o, and Maisie Rishardson-Sellers have all joined the cast. That is five significant female roles in this film alone. We now know that Felicity Jones is the only confirmed cast member for the first stand-alone film, Rogue One.
Obviously, this only addresses the issue of gender diversity. I’m holding out hope, though, that we’ll see considerably more racial diversity as well.
The panel with Kathleen Kennedy can be found here.
I am excited for new Star Wars. Not only does the upcoming movie look fun and exciting, but Star Wars is poised to become culturally relevant again.