One of the new stars of Star Wars has revealed that Lucasfilm has told them they will most likely be harassed by racists.
Moses Ingram, one of the stars of the upcoming Disney+ Obi-Wan Kenobi series has revealed she was warned about the issues the Star Wars franchise has had with racist fans. In an interview with The Independent, Ingram said that Lucasfilm had been proactive with her about the likelihood of harassment by Star Wars fans with racist views. From the sounds of it, Lucasfilm also seemed to be presenting itself as a resource for Ingram if (and hopefully not when) this becomes an issue for her. She also specifically notes that Obi-Wan Kenobi director Deborah Chow had been a valuable resource for her “putting the proper systems in place so I feel safe as we do the work”.
It is both regrettable and inevitable that Lucasfilm would have to get in front of Star Wars fans harassing one of the new stars of the franchise for racist reasons. Most infamously, the revival of the franchise with 2015’s The Force Awakens brought a certain kind of Star Wars fan to public awareness; that is to say, the kind of Star Wars fan that did not like to see a person of color on screen. The first teasers for the movie prominently highlighted British actor John Boyega as a central character in the JJ Abrams-led trilogy, which led to vitriolic racial harassment (primarily on the Internet) directed at him and his character, the former Stormtrooper Finn. Boyega has since been public with remarks about his feeling targeted by Star Wars racist fandom as a black man and also that Lucasfilm had positioned him as a central character in the new trilogy, only to be increasingly sidelined as the series went on.
Even more notoriously, actor Kelly Marie Tran was targeted by intense harassment from Star Wars racist fans and eventually spoke out about the psychological trauma this placed on her. Tran published an essay in The New York Times discussing the sexist and racist harassment she had experienced during the production and release of The Last Jedi. She also went further to describe the experience of being a person of color in Hollywood, and that she felt the industry had an implicit bias against non-white actors. Kelly Marie Tran was the first woman of color to have a leading role in a Star Wars movie but barely appeared in The Rise of Skywalker, the final installment of the trilogy. At the time, Lucasfilm and parent company Disney were both highly criticized for reducing the character’s part, which could be perceived as quietly conceding to the demands of Star Wars racist fans who were upset at non-white central characters.
While it can be seen as a good thing that Lucasfilm is already warning POC actors like Moses Ingram as to the potential likelihood of harassment by Star Wars racists, it could also be seen as their attempt to change up their increasing reputation for not standing by their castmembers. Hopefully, it is more a case of them trying to do right by their employees than just trying to make themselves look a little better this time around.