12 Years a Slave

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It’s been rumored since before the initial cast announcement, but the Star Wars: Episode VII production has made it official. They’ve announced via press release that Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o has joined the cast. With an acting squad (which is what all casts should be called) that’s focused on prestige talent more than mere name recognition, this hire is one that potentially touches on both fronts. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the release says nothing about the role that she’ll play.

The same goes for Gwendoline Christie. The Game of Thrones co-star who absolutely rocks as the lordly lady of Tarth has also signed on to fight long-ago battles in a galaxy far, far away. Hopefully they’ll give her a sword instead of a lightsaber.

The lack of details is probably cold comfort for fans and for those skeptical of the male/female ratio of actors. If you’re foolishly keeping score, it’s 5/11, but raw math doesn’t matter here (even if it’s pretty damned close to 50/50). What matters is the size of the spotlight on these individual characters and the actors who portray them. Without story details, we now theoretically have a Star Wars movie where there’s room for a young black man (John Boyega), a young black woman, and another young woman (Daisy Ridley) to save the universe from Max von Sydow. Can we have at least a little celebration for the diversity at work here?

In both Nyong’o and Christie, Star Wars has a casting coup — scoring strong, young talent with differing resumes. After the Oscars, there was a lot of talk about whether or not Nyong’o would have a flurry of offers, or if her win and subsequent lack of job momentum would further prove how entrenched Hollywood’s problem with finding roles for women of color has become. On that front, J.J. Abrams and company have done well to sweep her up during a time where it seems that — other than a voice acting role in Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book — there weren’t nearly as many offers for her as there should have been. Christie, on the other hand, is on a hot streak since she’ll next appear in both Hunger Games: Mockingjay movies.

Also, there’s this:


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