Bullied 'Star Wars' Fan Gets Support From Stormtroopers — and 'Weird Al' Yankovic


‘Star Wars’ fan Layla Murphy wears her new Stormtrooper costume for a meet-and-greet with “Weird Al” Yankovic (via Facebook)

The Star Wars universe is big enough for fans of all ages and genders, as 8-year-old Layla Murphy learned firsthand. The Norfolk, Virginia girl fell in love with the adventures of Luke and Leia when she found some of her father’s old Star Wars toys. But when kids at school started teasing Layla about liking movies “for boys,” a group of devoted Force fans — including musician “Weird Al” Yankovic— rallied to her side.

Layla’s mother Nicolette Molina told CNN that the bullying started when her daughter moved to a new school. “At this new school Layla started coming home more quiet and less of herself, and started asking not to wear her shirts or R2-D2 jacket…She was asked if she was turning into a boy,” said Molina.

Fortunately, Layla also caught the attention of the 501st Legion, an international volunteer organization of Star Wars fans who dress up as Stormtroopers, Sith Lords, and other villains to help out charitable causes. Jason Tuttle, a member who dresses as Boba Fett, saw a Facebook photo Molina had posted of him and Layla at a fan convention. When Molina told him about the bullying, Tuttle urged members of the 501st to send their support to Layla.

Before long, the little girl was receiving encouraging messages and Star Wars gifts from fans around the world. Then the 501st Legion — who design and build their own costumes —decided to give Layla the surprise of her life: a Stormtrooper outfit in her size, plus a backstage meeting with one of her heroes, Weird Al (who had enlisted members of the 501st for a local concert).

“This excited young #StarWars fan now proudly carries the trading cards of her 501st supporters in a Chewbacca backpack and can’t wait for the next opportunity to troop in armor,” the 501st Legion wrote of Layla on its official Facebook page. “Her favorite part of wearing the costume? She loves when people say, “What a cute little boy!” only to discover that there’s a girl under that helmet!”

Layla’s new Stormtrooper costume has a special history: It was first created in 2010 for another young girl who was being bullied, 7-year-old Katie Goldman. Last year, Katie passed the suit onto another female Star Wars fan being teased by her classmates, 11-year-old Allison. It’s a wonderful symbol of the support and love that can sometimes be found in fan communities — though hopefully, with Star Wars: The Force Awakens boasting a female protagonist (played by Daisy Ridley), the notion that Star Wars is only for boys will soon be banished to a galaxy far, far away.