Lucasfilm has announced not one, but two new women are joining the cast of Episode VII: Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) and Game of Thrones’ Gwendoline Christie!
“I could not be more excited about Lupita and Gwendoline joining the cast of Episode VII,” says Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy in a statement. “It’s thrilling to see this extraordinarily talented ensemble taking shape.”
Nyong’o has been rumored for a while now, but Christie is a complete surprise… And yes, this is a welcome announcement for those of us who were hoping to see more diversity in the cast!
Now that I have a moment to process this, I don’t think our objections had anything to do with today’s castings – remember the Nyong’o rumor dates back to March, long before any of the cast was formally announced, and I don’t doubt that negotiations with Christie predate the first cast announcement as well. We can’t know why they weren’t done in time to be included with the rest of the cast, and I don’t think any of us have the resources to speculate. (Although it will be interesting to see if the trades dig anything up.)
But I do still think it’s important that we spoke up in April, and that it was so measured. (Yes, it was measured. Trust me. If you’ve never seen a real fangirl flame war, count yourself as blessed.) Yes, they made it known quite quickly that there was at least one more female role to cast, but as Meredith Woerner said on io9 today regarding the original announcement:
That was the cast. We’re not apologists and we’re not fortune tellers. There simply weren’t enough women in the first ever picture of the official cast. It was our gut reaction to the photograph that Abrams and company meticulously decided would be their first ever announcement of their cast. There isn’t a running blog of each cast member as they were cast, this was it. I stand by that story then and I stand by it now. I’m super glad more women were cast in this movie. Great. Good. But at the time, that image was troubling.
And keep in mind – we still have no idea who/what Nyong’o and Christie are playing, and we won’t for some time. (Or Daisy Ridley for that matter, though she certainly seems to be the easiest to guess.) We don’t know if they’re major roles, and there are a LOT of people in this movie – they can’t all be leads.
I don’t regret my reaction on April 29, and I certainly don’t regret being one of dozens, one of hundreds, who had it. I don’t regret sitting up and saying “We expect better,” and nor should any of us.
We expect better. And thank you, Lucasfilm, J.J. Abrams, for not letting it end there. That excitement that folks were missing for the first announcement? I saw it today. And I’m glad we could finally join in.