Gina Carano Joins The Mandalorian, So She’s Probably Playing Rey’s Mom
Just like how Jyn is Rey's mom, or Qi'Ra is Rey's mom, or Keri Russell is Rey's mom...
One of my favorite scenes from the first season of The Good Place is when Janet keeps handing Michael cactuses (cactii?). At one point, Michael exhaustedly asks her if she’s holding a cactus when he asked for a file. She says no, Michael double checks that she is, indeed, holding the file, and seems satisfied that she does indeed have what he wants. He holds out his hand, and Janet gives him a cactus. You might ask, what does this have to do with The Mandalorian? Well, friends, it is because this has become my go-to mood for when casting announcements for the female lead of a Star Wars project are released. Except, instead of a cactus, it’s a white brunette.
Star Wars has a white brunette problem. While women of color, such as Kelly Marie Tran and Thandie Newton, have begun played larger roles in the live action properties, when it comes to the majority of the lead roles, they will frequently go to white brunettes. Occasionally a blonde (Gwendoline Christie) or a redhead (Genevieve O’Reilly) will slip through, but it’s mostly ladies who all look related to each other. There’s a reason why many casting announcements are met with “omg, is this Rey’s mom?” questions; I still remember the Rey Erso-Skywalker theories.
The actress in question is Gina Carano, who lowkey stole the show in the first Deadpool. An MMA star turned actress, she has the action chops for a rough-and-tumble underworld character. Her casting announcement comes on the heels of yesterday’s news about Pedro Pascal joining the series. While we don’t know for sure that she’s the lead or who she’ll be playing, the fact she is the second actress announced points to her having a major role.
While Carano was fun to watch in Deadpool, I also am frustrated at another white brunette being cast in the franchise. I understand Padmé being a white brunette, as she had to look like Leia’s mother, but there is no excuse for everyone to look related. Daisy Ridley gives a hell of a turn as Rey, but there were several women of color on the shortlist, and since she’s not Leia’s daughter there’s no need for the resemblance. Similarly, Jyn did not have to be a white brunette, as all the actresses who were rumored for the part were.
Most frustratingly, Qi’Ra was nearly played by a woman of color. The shortlist for the role was Zoë Kravitz, Tessa Thompson, and Naomi Scott. And yet, out of the blue, Emilia Clarke landed the part. Even droid L3-37 is played by a white brunette. The casting announcement for Episode IX promised us a new Black actress in a major role, but also… Keri Russell.
This is starting to be a really unfortunate pattern. Women of color are routinely shut out of playing the lead roles in Star Wars films. Instead, they are sexy aliens (such as Oola played by Femi Taylor in Return of the Jedi), tiny orange grandmothers (Lupita N’yongo’s Maz Kanata), or dead for their white husband’s pain (Val in Solo). The novels are filled with women of color in major roles; Ciene Ree, Rae Sloane, Iden Versio, and Vi Moradi are all examples. The comics feature Dr. Aphra and Sana Starros. The television shows feature Sabine Wren, Ketsu Onyo, Tam, and Torra.
So why won’t Lucasfilm let women of color dominate the live-action films? It’s not a good look. While I’m sure Carano will do a good job in the role, you’re telling me that there were no actresses of color who would have been just as good? Lucasfilm has promised progress on the representation front, and they need to include women of color in that progress as well. Otherwise, they don’t get to be mad when we assume that everyone is secretly Rey’s mom.
(via The Hollywood Reporter; image: 20th Century Fox)
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