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Why a Non-White Actor Would Be an Inspiring Choice For Star Wars

Why a Non-White Actor Would Be an Inspiring Choice For Star Wars

According to news breaking on Variety yesterday, J.J. Abrams has narrowed down casting decisions to five male actors to fill the boots of whatever primary good guy will feature prominently (and possibly opposite Adam Driver) in Star Wars: Episode VII.  And while all of this is still like a murky speculation not-dissimilar from a creepy Anakin Skywalker-nightmare or Luke Skywalker-premonition, the future of the face of this main character is totally in motion.

Here’s the names of the five men lined up to have the Force be super-strong with them: Ed Speleers, Jesse Plemons, Matthew Jay Thomas, Ray Fisher, and John Boyega. And while the first three names in the list all boast rad acting chops and accomplishments (Speleers on Downton Abbey, Plemons on Friday Night Lights, Thomas in Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark) they all share one characteristic with all the other male leads in previous Star Wars films: they’re white dudes.

I’m a white dude, I like white dudes. Some of my favorite white dudes are Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Obi-Wan Kenobi. But, those characters are so much more than their race; they are icons, heroes, inspirations. Behind all the fan fury, love, and insanity involving all things Star Wars is the simple fact that it is much, much bigger than most pop events, ever. So big, in fact, I’d argue, that it has a responsibility to make sure it’s newest hero, the next Luke Skywalker or Han Solo, is something other than a white dude. The nearly inexplicable magic of Star Wars binds and penetrates people in an undeniable way. It is not an overtly political story, other than to say, it holds deeply humanistic values, like, equality and redemption in its major story arcs.

Because of the big human being-life-affirming-values of Star Wars, the J.J. Abrams powers-that-be would be close to insane not to cast either Ray Fisher or John Boyega as the next hero of the Force. Fisher was a well-reviewed Mohammed Ali and Boyega was tops in Attack of the Block. Either of these dudes would be a great choices for the new Star Wars, and would also break huge ground by making someone of color as the main character in one of the most important adventure stories of both the 20th and 21st century. If Star Trek was able to get-it-together and cast a black man as its lead character on Deep Space Nine back in 1993, it’s time for Star Wars to step-up.

Casting either Fisher or Boyega as the next Jedi to save us all? That’s what I call bringing balance to the Force.

What do you think?

Tags: movies, star wars, star trek, jj abrams, casting, attack the block

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About the Author
Ryan Britt

Ryan Britt is the author of Luke Skywalker Can't Read and Other Geeky Truths, forthcoming from Plume (Penguin) Books on 11.24.15. He's written for The New York Times, Electric Literature, The Awl, VICE Motherboard, Clarkesworld Magazine, and is a consulting editor for Story Magazine. He lives in New York City.

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