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"Star Wars: Episode 9" Hires First Black Director

Disney just hired Victoria Mahoney ("Yelling to the Sky") to be the second unit director on the untitled "Star Wars: Episode IX" movie. She's the first African-American woman to direct a Star Wars film.

The news was announced by Ava DuVernay on her personal Instagram account saying "Happy to share this historic news. A black woman directing stories in a galaxy far, far away".

The photo of Mahoney and Abrams was taken while they were hanging out at a recent open house at DuVernay's production and distribution company, ARRAY.

While there have been eleven movies in the live-action Star Wars franchise there have only been eight first unit directors: George Lucas (who directed the first film and the prequels), Irvin Kershner (Empire Strikes Back), Richard Marquand ("Return of the Jedi"), J. J. Abrams ("The Force Awakens" and "Episode 9"), Rian Johnson ("The Last Jedi"), Gareth Edwards ("Rogue One"), and Ron Howard ("Solo").

Black directors are uncommon in Hollywood, but directors like Ryan Coogler are blazing new trails. Black female directors are even rarer and it's great that DuVernay is celebrating another Disney director. This is truly historic and shows how committed Disney is the diversification of the "Star Wars" films.

Mahoney is a filmmaker and actress best known for her debut film "Yelling to the Sky". She was an actor back in the 80's and 90s with roles in movies like "Legally Blonde" and TV shows like "Seinfeld" (she played the owner of the clothing store "Putumayo" feuding with Elaine). She has a brief cameo in Ava DuVernay's short film "Say Yes" back in 2013. Mahoney recently directed a TV pilot for CBS called "Red Line" that is executive produced by DuVernay and Greg Berlanti. She's also writing for a TV adaptation of the novel "Dawn", for DuVernay.

While DuVernay has never directed a "Star Wars" film she does have a history with Abrams. He showed her a rough cut of the "The Force Awakens" and suggested a small change. In the lightsaber battle between Kylo Ren and Rey, she suggested a close-up shot of Daisy Ridley's face as she struggled to fight him off. "It’s a little thing, but it really connects you to her intensity," Abrams said.

What is a Second Unit Director?

Second unit directors ultimately responsible for capturing all the supplementary footage on the film. That might include close-ups or reaction shots or action scenes. But second unit directors aren't just backups. They're independent of the first-unit and call they're own shots. Sometimes they even have their own cinematographers. They do have to match the style of the first unit director. It's often a role that leads to first unit directing jobs and it's a huge leap for a director with a career in television to be tapped for a major Hollywood picture.

It's great to see "Star Wars" bringing people of color in front of and behind the screen.

About Star Wars: Episode IX

Directed by J.J. Abrams
Star Wars: Episode IX stars Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega
Star Wars: Episode IX is scheduled for release December 20, 2019 (United States)
Check back with the Geek Twins for more Star Wars: Episode IX movie news!

What do you think of the news?

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