J.J. Abrams Explains Why Diversity Is So Important In Star Wars

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars has experienced a conflicted run of ups and downs with the Sequel Trilogy, but if there’s one thing we can all agree upon it’s that the representation in these new movies has been phenomenally inclusive.

Whether it’s the main saga of films or shows like The Mandalorian and spinoffs like Rogue One, it’s heartwarming to see the level of diversity that’s represented in both the cast and crew members of these large productions. This is ideal in the sense that whenever people look up to these fictional worlds for inspiration, there’ll always be someone with whom they can connect.

But how much of that inclusive approach has been deliberately planted within Lucasfilm and its collaborating partners? Speaking at the 2020 Upfront Summit, The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker director J.J. Abrams and his wife Katie McGrath, who’s the co-CEO of Bad Robot, addressed the matter of representation and told us about why they chose to focus on leading a diverse production team.

Katie said that as they were putting together the pieces of the puzzle that’d form Episode VII, they wanted to represent every group and community.

“[We] thought about building this story with the female protagonist, a set of four main characters: One of whom was Latinx, one of whom was a Nigerian Londoner, one of whom was a woman — a white woman — and one of whom was a white guy. How can we find a way to have every kid who’s going to go see that movie see a version of themselves, in a way that isn’t often considered at scale? If we have this moment, this privilege, what do we want to do with it? And not from a place of being preachy or feeding people spinach, just from a place of — any time you have a privilege, you have an obligation, period. That’s just how we try to live our lives.”

Additionally, Abrams spoke about how he and McGrath decided to implement a “Bad Robot Rule,” where they’d make sure that half of everyone interviewed for any job would be women, and at least 40% of those numbers would be made up of people of color. This isn’t just a vision, either, as Bad Robot’s staffs are currently 55% women and nearly half people of color.

The Star Trek director went on to say that this is an exceptional achievement, too, stating:

“It makes me emotional, actually, to be in meetings and to look around and see people who are never on a usual suspects list, they are never normally people you would think would normally have this job. But they were the best people, and they were there because we made sure they had a shot… I can’t tell you how much it’s benefited our business.”

Ultimately, the outcome has made Star Wars more diverse than it’s ever been in its 40-year history. Tell us, though, what do you think about this method as a means of diverse representation? Is it a step forward, or should the criteria for competence be implemented in a different manner? Sound off in the usual place below.