The Female Lead of 'Star Wars VIII' Could Reflect 21st Century America

The shortlist is down to three.

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We have yet to even know the basic plot of The Force Awakens (106 days!) but that hasn’t stopped speculation over Star Wars VIII, scheduled in the the far distant future of May 26, 2017.

The Wrap is reporting that the heroine of the Rian Johnson-directed Star Wars installment could be one of three women: Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black), Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin), and Olivia Cooke (Bates Motel).

It’s clear Star Wars has an idea for its female hero, however vague. Is she Han Solo’s daughter, who BTW is married? Though Cooke is English and Maslany is of heavily mixed East and West European descent, Rodriguez is Puerto Rican. All could, on different levels, conceivably look like a rogue space cowboy’s progeny.

The inclusion of Rodriguez is another step towards this galaxy far, far away looking like our own. This is a nod toward basic cultural fairness — and toward the box office, as Hispanics are quickly becoming the most frequent ticket buying audiences worldwide.

Just being in the shortlist is huge for Rodriguez. In a recent article with The Hollywood Reporter, Chris Rock lamented how performers of color are hardly ever on equal footing in the running for major roles, even today. “Hollywood pretty much decides to cast a black guy or they don’t. We’re never on the ‘short list.’ We’re never ‘in the mix.’”

There’s still a long journey ahead before all can join that fabled “mix” and even longer before a performer of color can be the choice, no ifs or buts. But Gina Rodriguez can help. She’s our only hope.

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