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Kathleen Kennedy on ‘Star Wars’ Misogyny, ‘The Acolyte’

Kathleen Kennedy on ‘Star Wars’ Misogyny, ‘The Acolyte’

Kathleen Kennedy is familiar with the difficulties that women often face in the male-dominated Star Wars world.

In a brief conversation with The New York Times, Kennedy opened up about Leslye Headland‘s upcoming series The Acolyte, and how she has faced misogyny as the head of Lucasfilm.

“Operating within these giant franchises now, with social media and the level of expectation — it’s terrifying,” she told the publication. “I think Leslye has struggled a little bit with it. I think a lot of the women who step into Star Wars struggle with this a bit more. Because of the fan base being so male-dominated, they sometimes get attacked in ways that can be quite personal.”

Kennedy’s comments come ahead of the release of the Disney+ series, which some in the fandom are already slamming for its inclusion of several women and people of color in powerful positions.

“Why are there so many women, girls and minority characters increasingly dominating the ranks of Jedi?” reads one of the comments on The Acolyte trailer, according to The Times, with others addressing a similar sentiment.

Amandla Stenberg portrays a warrior with a complicated relationship with a Jedi master, played by Squid Game‘s Lee Jung-jae. Jodie Turner-Smith takes on the role of the lesbian leader of a coven of witches, and Manny Jacinto (The Good Place) plays Qimir, a “shiftless drifter.” The Matrix star Carrie-Anne Moss appears as a Jedi named Master Indara.

Kennedy expressed to The Times her steadfast support for The Acolyte, which marks the first Star Wars show to be created by a woman. “My belief is that storytelling does need to be representative of all people,” she said. “That’s an easy decision for me.”

Former Star Wars actress Daisy Ridley, Kelly Marie Tran and Moses Ingram have spoken out about enduring sexist and/or racist online bullying for their respective parts in the film franchise’s most recent trilogy.

For her part, Headland limits her exposure to the online chatter surrounding her series, both good and bad. Instead, she relies on her friends to give her “weather reports” about what people are saying.

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“As a fan myself, I know how frustrating some Star Wars storytelling in the past has been,” she said, adding, “I’ve felt it myself.”

She followed up the sentiment with a text message that read, “I stand by my empathy for Star Wars fans. But I want to be clear. Anyone who engages in bigotry, racism or hate speech … I don’t consider a fan.”

The Acolyte premieres on Disney+ on June 4.

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