By Nick Schager, Yahoo Movies
Daisy Ridley was the breakout star of Star Wars: The Force Awakens — no huge surprise in retrospect, given that her character Rey is the story’s primary hero — but in the pre-release merchandise plans, she somehow received short shrift. Rey was conspicuously absent in numerous toy sets, perhaps most notably in the initial tie-in version of Monopoly. The disrespect didn’t sit well with fans or with director J.J. Abrams, and though the issue was retroactively rectified, it still shadows the franchise as eyes turn to the marketing of the as-yet-untitled Star Wars: Episode VIII in 2017. Now, Ridley herself has spoken out about Rey’s representation on the toy shelf — and the efforts being taken to make sure she gets her due this time.
While Ridley spoke to Collider about The Eagle Huntress, a new documentary which she narrates and executive produces, she was asked about The Force Awakens toy situation, and replied that she too was unhappy with how the merchandising plan played out, and that this time she’s more aware of how toy makers will handle Rey.
“Interestingly,” she told Collider, “I had a meeting yesterday about merchandise and what’s happening going forward, so I had a lot of questions that were answered and some, you know, issues.… There was a conversation that was happening before — I think when it really became a big thing is when J.J. [Abrams] talked about Monopoly. There had been conversations long before that that I was having with people because I didn’t really understand what was going on. And John Boyega, in fact, told me that he had written to someone and I was like, “Huh,” because he is more of a toy person than I am. Moving forward I think what they’re planning — I’ve been told what the plan is for next year and it’s really cool, really exciting.”
She also said that, while the online backlash to Rey’s absence was heartening, the brouhaha wasn’t so much about Rey as it was about the larger issue of representational equality.
“My whole thing is it’s not anything about the backlash,” Ridley explained. “If a character is important in the story, then that should be dealt with in every platform whether it’s merchandise, whether that’s posters, anything, it needs to be dealt with in the correct way regardless of gender, regardless of color. So to be honest, how the public reacted to it was amazing, because it was a testament to the character and to what J.J. did with the casting. And yeah, it’s going to be super cool going forward…. And I think it was well-intentioned, usually it’s boys that buy those kinds of toys. And I think it’s a great moment of what’s happening in the world with girls and how different people are playing and how they’re interacting with the things they see in popular culture. So yeah, it’s cool.”
‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens 3D’ Exclusive Clip: Rey Fights Kylo (Commentary):