Lucasfilm Promises to Hire a Woman to Direct a ‘Star Wars’ Movie
Lucasfilm has no shortage of interesting directors involved in the new era of Star Wars. J.J. Abrams kicks things off with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, followed by Rian Johnson on Episode 8 and Colin Trevorrow on Episode 9, with Gareth Edwards and Phil Lord and Chris Miller tackling upcoming Star Wars Story spinoffs. But where are the women? The president of Lucasfilm is a woman — which is excellent — but with each new director announcement, we can’t help but wonder why it’s so difficult to get a woman on board.
In an interview with Fortune, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy revealed some wonderful facts about women working behind the scenes on Star Wars:
Fifty percent of our executive team are women. Six out of eight of the people in my Story Group are women. I think it’s making a huge difference in the kind of stories we’re trying to tell.
And that may be so. The Force Awakens features Daisy Ridley in a lead role, and if certain rumors are to be believed, she may be the new central protagonist of the franchise, picking up where Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker left off. Rogue One touts Felicity Jones in a lead role, and recent reports have suggested that Episode 8 has not one, but two lead roles for women.
Kennedy assures concerned fans that Lucasfilm will hire a woman to direct a Star Wars movie — it’s not a matter of if, but when:
It is going to happen. We are going to hire a woman who’s going to direct a Star Wars movie. I have no doubt. On the other hand, I want to make sure we put someone in that position who’s set up for success. It’s not just a token job to look out and try to find a woman that we could put into a position of directing Star Wars… If we do want to bring a woman in to direct a Star Wars movie, we want to make sure that it’s somebody who’s passionate and really, really wants to do a Star Wars movie. We don’t want to talk somebody into it.
I admire Kennedy’s assertion that they shouldn’t hire a woman to direct just for the sake of hiring a woman to direct — she’s right. They need a woman who is passionate about the franchise. Kennedy goes on to note that she has far more men than women calling her to express their adoration of and interest in the franchise, and as for why she isn’t having an easier time finding a woman to direct a Star Wars film: perhaps the reason exists in the shortage of women who have been given the privilege to direct a blockbuster. There are far more women working in independent film than in the studio system, and while major studios often take indie directors and stick them on franchise properties, those indie directors are always men.
Women have had a harder time in the predominately male studio system, with few finding real success alongside their male peers. But Kennedy’s strong desire to hire a woman for Star Wars — and boasting so many women behind the scenes already — is a step in the right direction.
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