When it was announced that Academy Award winning actress Lupita Nyong’o will join the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens along with a whole host of actors from the previous films and other newcomers like John Boyega and Oscar Isaac, I was literally jumping up and down in my office with glee. This will be her first breakout role since her heartbreaking performance in 12 Years A Slave. The announcement came with a whirlwind of opinions from fans of Star Wars as well as fans of Nyong’o. Many fans begged to question what role she will play in one of the greatest science fiction films of all time? When the cast was first announced last April, there was a social media frenzy surrounding the lack of women and most importantly, women of color represented in the Star Wars universe. I took to Twitter myself under my alias @blackgirlnerds and tweeted the following:
— BlackGirlNerds (@BlackGirlNerds) April 29, 2014
The Star Wars Expanded Universe embodies a myriad of female protagonists and has a more progressive and realistic universe of what Star Wars today should look like as opposed to the delineation of films with a mostly male cast. We have yet to see a Black woman depicted in a major role within the Star Wars universe. This will in fact be a monumental moment for both fans of Nyong’o and the Star Wars franchise itself. I am giddy with excitement that I can finally see a woman of my ilk kick ass in a big budget sci-fi film. This is a colossal point in history for all black girl nerds.
The one question remains: will Lupita Nyong’o play a Jedi or a Sith?
We all know based on her performance in 12 Years A Slave that Nyong’o has the acting chops to and has a significant amount of range as an actress. However, I am curious to know if Lupita will the Jedi heroine, a gatekeeper of peace and justice or will she be the manipulative Sith lord who will use her trusty lightsaber to be a force to contend with?
Jedi or Sith what is more important is that we are finally seeing a woman on screen who looks like us. In a world where being white and male by default automatically leads to a starring role in Hollywood, it’s time that sci-fi/fantasy films get it right by crossing racial barriers and integrating more people of color into its stories. There are only a very small handful of Black women such as Uhura, Martha Jones, Zoe Washburne, and Abbie Mills who have helped pave the way for this casting to continue. Sadly it only happens less frequently than it should and for the most part, it’s always a pleasant surprise to the world when it does.
Star Wars is finally getting it right by casting a talent like Lupita Nyong’o and we will all wait with baited breath to find out next what role she will take on in her debut in one of the most iconic films indelibly printed in our history and culture. There is also more exciting news to celebrate with Gwendoline Christie being brought on board to this epic film. Christie is best known for her role as Brienne of Tarth in Game of Thrones. She is also admired, loved, and respected in the geek community. Fangirls, geek girls, and black girl nerds everywhere will flock to see this film on opening day.
Thanks Hollywood for finally getting it right.