Hollywood has a clear and well-acknowledged representation problem. The statistics don't lie, and there are far fewer minority and female lead characters and folks behind the camera directing them than there are straight, white males. That in no way takes anything from the talent of those men, many of whom have told riveting, accurate, and award-winning stories featuring both the under and well-represented, but the facts remain. In the case of women, less than 12% of box office blockbusters are directed by them.
It's become a priority, then, to rectify this, as fans have become more vocal and producers have, to quote Lor San Tekka, found ways "to begin to make things right." No more prevalent are the issues, the vocal fanbases, or the equally vocal and public responses than in genre entertainment. Jessica Jones, a show about a female lead character dealing with things as only she can, will have all female directors for its second season. Big sister Marvel Studios has likewise committed to finding a female director for Captain Marvel, their first feature with a female lead, hoping to have that perspective adding to the story.
Now Lucasfilm, who studies of the last few years show boasts a nearly 50/50 fanbase split between male and female fans for its largest franchise, Star Wars, is also seeking to begin to make things right. When you look at their current field of directors: J.J. Abrams, Gareth Edwards, Rian Johnson, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, and Colin Trevorrow, they are obviously all male. While the characters in these films, like Rey and Jyn Erso as female characters carrying the lead role in theirs, or diverse supporting casts that offer fans of other races to see themselves in Star Wars have shown major awareness and improvement to the diverse fanbase, that hasn't changed the helm position, despite a company headed by President Kathleen Kennedy and Head of Story Group Kiri Hart.
"We want to make sure that when we bring a female director to do Star Wars, they're set up for success. They're gigantic films, and you can't come into them with essentially no experience," Kennedy told Variety of the quest for a female director for one of their big features. "We want to really start to focus in on people we would love to work with and see what kinds of things they're doing to progress up that ladder now, and then pull them in when the time is right."
Essentailly, it sounds as if Kennedy and her team are looking to cultivate those aforementioned women - the ones directing Netflix productions and smaller films, to eventually raise them into the role of director on their features. That will make some fans upset, but contextually it should bring hope, just as Jyn Erso desires to for the Rebel Alliance in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Rey said the day after meeting BB-8. "Don't give up hope," she told the droid. Apparently fans shouldn't, either.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits theaters December 16, 2016.
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