6/03/2014

Star Wars cast member Lupita Nyong'o at the 7th annual hollywood film awards gala (Source)

Lupita Nyong'o is a the first lead black actress in a Star Wars film. But what does it mean for Star Wars Episode VII?

Rumors have been swirling for months that the Kenyan and Mexican actor was in talks to star in the next Star Wars film, known only as Episode VII. Frankly, it's exciting news and sparked a lot of discussion. Hollywood Reporter said Nyong'o met with J.J. Abrams "only a few weeks" before the Academy Awards, but nothing was confirmed until yesterday when it was announced she joined the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII. She and Gwendoline Christie join new cast members John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow, along with original cast members Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker.

In the official Star Wars press release Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy said, "I could not be more excited about Lupita and Gwendoline joining the cast of Episode VII. It's thrilling to see this extraordinarily talented ensemble taking shape."

It's huge news and has a lot of implications, but here are some of them.

1. Racial Diversity in Star Wars
I've written before about how there are only a handful of ethnic characters in the hundreds of Star Wars characters. Now, we have two more with John Boyega and Lupita Nyong'o. It's an exciting time for Star Wars fans of all races.

2. Strong Black Woman
We don't know what role she'll play but a casting call said they were looking to cast a "young woman to play 17-18 Years old. Must be beautiful, smart and athletic. Open to all ethnicities (including bi- and multi-racial). Must be 16 or over." Nyong'o could be playing that character nicknamed Rachel. I doubt that's the character's real name. Lucas would name her something ridiculous like Rassh Ell.

One leaked page from the casting script has "Rachel" literally carrying her wounded friend "Thomas." It's probably not the real script, but it shows the character is tough and takes charge while still caring. This is a nice change from the typical stereotype of the loud overbearing black woman.

The only weird thing is Nyong'o is 31. They've had actors play teenagers before, but she could be a character we know nothing about. Whoever it is, there's no way they'd hire an Oscar nominated actor for a bit part. So, she's somebody big. She might even be a Black female lead. It's possible, since /Film editor Peter Sciretta tweeted “Who said the lead character in Star Wars Episode VII is going to be a male star?" Wouldn't that be a game changer?

Whoever she is, she's no space maid.

3. More Female Roles 
One thing people complained about is that there weren't enough strong female characters in the Star Wars movies and the new casting didn't change only added Daisy Ridley. Now that they've added two more actresses, it shows Episode VII is committed to changing the game in more ways than one.

4. She's Not Playing Storm in the Next X-Men Film
I wrote an article about Black Girl Nerds' fan campaign to play the weather controlling mutant Storm in the next X-Men movie. She would be awesome but it's not going to happen this time around. X-Men: Days of Apocalypse is scheduled for release May 27, 2016 and development has already begun. Star Wars is going to keep Lupita Nyong'o busy until, at least, the middle of 2015 assuming there are no reshoots and that doesn't include her marathon press tours. It's sad, since she'd be great, but there's just no time. Maybe in the following X-Men film.

5. Casting Isn't Done
The exciting thing about this news is that casting may not be done. All the main actors may be cast, but there might be more announcements coming. In the rush to reach the release date they may have left a number of roles uncast until later.The biggest casting I'm hoping for is the return of Lando Calrissian by Billy Dee Williams.

6. Cultural Game Changer 
Forbes pointed out the most important thing about this casting saying that taking the "iconic part of American culture and making movies that tell the story of a young black woman is a cultural game changer." It's true. Just like Star Trek's Uhura inspired decades of Black scientists and astronauts, Nyong'o's character could inspire decades more women of color to reach for the stars. 

Star Wars Episode VII is scheduled for release on December 18, 2015. Can't wait!

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6 comments:

Pat Dilloway said...

It'll be interesting to see what they do with all these characters. It's hard to speculate since I have no idea what the movie's about--other than probably 2 1/2 hours.

Nigel Mitchell said...

I've had conversations with those people

Nigel Mitchell said...

I had that exact conversation with someone who thought her identity was stolen because the username on our website was taken

John Garrett said...

I hope she doesn't end up being Lando's daughter or something, lol. Even in the Star Wars universe, all the Black people will know each other. I'm very curious to see how this plays out.

Maurice Mitchell said...

Yeah I remember Sophie and that was a bad turn for her. I think we’ll all be surprised where the characters are going and that’ll be the most fun.

Maurice Mitchell said...

Spoilers! ;)

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