Star Wars Has a Diversity Problem

I’ll just start off by saying that I know you’re probably confused at this headline. Wasn’t the whole point of The Force Awakens, according to JJ Abrams, to pass the torch to a new group of more diverse heroes? Isn’t Kathleen Kennedy’s whole mission to involve more strong women in the universe, breaching the gap and giving Star Wars some much-needed female fans? Well, allow me to explain. I’m not talking about the diversity on-screen. I’ve already expressed my feelings about the people who, as of yet, have not been represented in the Star Wars universe. No, right now I’m talking about the diversity behind the camera.

Every single Star Wars director has been heterosexual, white, and male. The franchise has had no female directors; it has had no directors of color; and it has had no LGBT+ directors. It doesn’t even seem that they’re attempting to find any. According to Kathleen Kennedy, there’s no female director ‘experienced’ enough to take on a Star Wars movie, so they’ll just keep going with male directors until one just happens to stroll along.

Well, to that I say: so, Ava DuVernay just doesn’t exist, right, Kathleen? I mean, to be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if you weren’t familiar with the first Black woman to direct a blockbuster with a budget of over $100 million. You can’t seem to have any visible Black women in your movies to save your life, so it doesn’t surprise me that you don’t know who they are in the real world.

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But even ignoring my frustration at Ms. Kennedy for her obtuse actions regarding women of color, I have to point out that there are several male directors of color who would be more than qualified for a Star Wars movie. Jordan Peele, what’s up, man? Your movie Get Out was amazing! Not only was it great, but it was the first original horror film by a Black director to gross over $200m. In the movie you proved that you’re more than qualified to direct a high-concept film, so why not you? Something horrific in the Star Wars universe sounds absolutely spectacular.

Or what about F. Gary Gray, the Straight Outta Compton helmer who then went on to direct The Fate of the Furious, which is closing in on the billion dollar club as we speak? With Compton he proved he can handle drama and story; with F8, he proved he can execute the action sequences and handle a big blockbuster. I think he’d do a fantastic job with something gritty and war-centric – like Rogue One, but with more humor. Give him a call, Kathleen!

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Photo credit: Blavity

And I mean, lest we forget about James Wan, who also directed a film in the Fast & Furious franchise, the unforgettable Furious 7. He’s gone on to do Aquaman for DC and Warner Bros., which is currently filming. I have no idea he’ll deliver an excellent film. And if he can handle a property as kooky and all-over-the-place as Aquaman, why not put him on a Star Wars movie? He’d knock it out of the park.

And since you’re so crazy about including women – which I’m 100% behind, as long as they’re not all white and brunette – why don’t we call up Patty Jenkins, who looks to have done an excellent job with Wonder Woman? Gina Prince-Bythewood, who I’m sure could deliver a helluva space romance? Mira Nair? Dee Rees? Victoria Mahoney? Amma Asante?

None of these directors, save Jenkins, have directed a blockbuster – but neither had Colin Trevorow before Jurassic World. The ‘experience’ is not an issue, as far as I’m concerned. A film is a film. A good enough director will have the make the jump to a big franchise at some point – and if you truly want female directors, then you have to understand that most of them haven’t directed a blockbuster. The idea of a woman directing a superhero film, or a Star Wars film, was relatively unheard of until recently. And Kathleen – here’s your chance to change that.

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Photo credit: WIRED

Listen, I’m not trying to attack anyone. All I’m saying is: don’t claim to be embracing diversity and allowing anyone to participate in your franchise, but then still only allow certain people. Put more women of color in your movies, in front of AND behind the camera. You can’t have any kind of diversity without them.

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