96% of Star Wars Writers and Directors Are Men, and 100% Are White
Variety‘s Maureen Ryan recently crunched the numbers on the Star Wars creative teams, and the results are definitely not diverse. By Ryan’s count, 24 people have been hired to direct, write, or otherwise serve as the creative lead on one of the 17 planned or released Star Wars films. Of those 24 creators, 23 were white men.
Leigh Brackett, a white woman who helped write The Empire Strikes Back, is the only exception.
Now, it’s true that some of this lack of diversity can be attributed to the series’ origins. It’s closely tied to the creative vision of George Lucas, who has a writing credit on the first six films and directed four of them, so that one person has taken on quite a few of the creative roles. However, that’s a historical part of the data. It’s no excuse for failing to hire creatives today, as the franchise continues expanding, who are more reflective of the world at-large.
Take Lucasfilm’s two most recent film announcements. A few months ago, they announced that The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson will oversee a brand-new, non-Skywalker trilogy. And yesterday, they announced that Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will also create a new series of Star Wars films, also separate from the Skywalker saga.
Now, I’m not saying these men aren’t talented at what they do, or that no one should hire them. But it’s worth asking why Lucasfilm continues to hand opportunities almost exclusively to white men. As Carey Mulligan said, if Dee Rees were a white man, she’d be directing the next Star Wars. But she’s not, and so here we are with this upcoming roster.
Here at TMS, we often discuss why it’s important to get more women and people of color into leadership roles—but we’ve also mentioned the limits of that exercise. The benefits of a powerful female CEO only trickle down to regular female employees if that CEO does her best to fight institutional misogyny. The same with a CEO of color. Lucasfilm has achieved gender parity on their executive board, and Kennedy has said it’s the result of actively casting a wider net. “You have to cast a broader net when you’re interviewing and looking at possible prospects,” she said. “In the creative community, there’s no excuse for not making a more equitable environment. It literally comes down to companies that just aren’t trying hard enough.”
Now, if rumors are to be believed, Kennedy has at least taken meetings with more diverse directors. The Hollywood Reporter recently wrote that Handmaid’s Tale director Reed Morano took a two-hour meeting with Kennedy at Sundance. And Kennedy herself has said that are “many” female directors with the potential to direct a Star Wars film, and that she has “talked to most of them.”
But as Kennedy herself also said, “there’s no excuse for not making a more equitable environment.” And as more and more Star Wars projects get announced, with more and more white male directors and writers, it’s feeling like Star Wars won’t do the work to create that equitable environment.
(Via Variety; image: Lucasfilm / Walt Disney Studios)
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