What does a diverse writer’s room look like? Today, we talk a lot more about the value of different points of view when it comes to the people working on creating our favorite media, including the many Star Wars projects headed our way in the coming years. There is value in having more people of color, and people of different ages, and people who have varying backgrounds in general working to create the media we watch. For Leslye Headland, part of her job as a showrunner–and a diehard Star Wars fan–was to bring in perspectives that would help her create the best story possible for the upcoming Star Wars: The Acolyte. And for Headland, that meant bringing in some writers who’d never seen a single thing from the entire franchise–not a show, not a movie.
It wasn’t that the showrunner specifically sought out writers unfamiliar with the works of the franchise, but as they were looking at writers, it came up. The showrunner discussed the events in a recent interview. Headland was looking for the best scripts, and then what the writers’ points of view would bring to the project. As part of that, she asked applicants what Star Wars meant to them. Headland found that everyone had different experiences with the franchise. This is one of the things that makes it so special and enduring. Every fan has their own perspective on the fandom, and Headland would need that in order to create a writer’s room that would do justice to the epic world of Star Wars. Soon, it became clear that they had talented minds that didn’t have any experience with the franchise at all.
The showrunner for Star Wars: The Acolyte saw the value in this. They now had the opportunity to ask that writer, “Okay, if we remove all the franchise history from this, how does the story hold up on its own? Does it make sense?” And that writer could see things like, “I don’t understand why that character would say that.” While a fan of the franchise may know this character from another production, the writer who hasn’t seen anything Star Wars except Acolyte will be able to notice things not yet established in this particular show. That’s going to create a better story in the end, according to Headland.
You may be asking how it’s even possible that the showrunner found a writer unfamiliar with the franchise. For those who are fans, it seems like Star Wars is everywhere, especially now. How do you escape the Baby Yoda dolls everywhere? How does that adorable figure not make you decide to finally give in and watch one of the movies? How do you work in Hollywood as a writer and somehow miss one of the most iconic stories around? Apparently, it happens.
This may not shock John Boyega, who played Finn for Star Wars. When he got cast in the role, he immediately called his father to tell him the good news. His father was thrilled for him! Knew he would always be successful and was so happy his son had been cast in Star Wars. He then followed up his congratulations by asking what exactly that was.
Will this unusual decision pay off for Star Wars: The Acolyte? Here’s hoping. The future Disney+ series is a passion project for Leslye Headland, so she’s probably hoping harder than most of us that her work adds something great to the franchise she’s gotten the chance to make her mark on.