The Star Wars cinematic universe has evolved to include an admirably diverse group of actors — onscreen, that is. Behind the camera, the writers and directors of all eight Star Wars films have almost exclusively been white men. Now J.J. Abrams has taken a small step to change that. The writer-director of Star Wars: Episode IX has hired Victoria Mahoney to be his second-unit director, making her the first black woman to have a key directorial position in the Star Wars franchise. A Wrinkle in Time director Ava DuVernay made the announcement yesterday on Twitter, and Mahoney, who made her feature debut with 2011’s Yelling to the Sky, happily confirmed the news.
Happy to share this historic news. A black woman directing stories in a galaxy far, far away. First unit director #JJAbrams. Second unit director @VictoriaMahoney. #StarWarsE9 #StarWars pic.twitter.com/s689jv9I4u
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) April 17, 2018
Catt’s outta the bag. Thank you @ava for putting my name in the #StarWars #LucasFilm hat. Thank you #JJAbrams for inviting me on your ferocious ride. *This one’s for the outliers, dreaming big–in small corners of the Earth.
— Vic Mahoney (@VictoriaMahoney) April 17, 2018
Normally, the hiring of a second-unit director — responsible mainly for shots that don’t feature the major characters — wouldn’t be newsworthy. However, Lucasfilm has been on the receiving end of some negative attention for hiring a steady stream of white male writer-directors for its biggest Star Wars projects, including Abrams for The Force Awakens and Episode IX; Gareth Edwards for Rogue One; Ron Howard (replacing previous white dudes Phil Lord and Christopher Miller) for Solo; Rian Johnson for The Last Jedi and an upcoming film trilogy; Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss for another upcoming trilogy, and Jon Favreau for the first live-action Star Wars series. At this point, any diversity in the director’s chair or the writer’s room is a welcome development for fans who want the Star Wars universe to live up to its own inclusive ideals.
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