Amandla Stenberg to lead herstory-making new Star Wars series with a queer perspective
Amandla Stenberg is set to star in The Acolyte, a new Stars Wars TV series spearheaded by a gay woman.
Written, directed and executive-produced by Russian Doll co-creator Lesyle Headland, the show will focus on the emergence of dark-side powers in the final days of the High Republic, an era that began roughly 200 years before the events of Episode I: The Phantom Menace kicked off the Skywalker saga.
Details for Stenberg’s character are yet to be revealed, but it’s reported that the Disney Plus show will bring a much-needed queer perspective to the successful franchise.
The 23-year-old is best known for their role as Rue in The Hunger Games while they have also starred in The Hate U Give and Dear Evan Hansen.
Headland is the first openly queer person to take the reins of an on-screen Star Wars project and previously told The Advocate that she was “excited to do the type of character work” that she would normally do in her other projects.
She explained: “In the same way that the original Star Wars film, A New Hope, is about a young man living in Modesto, [California], who doesn’t want to take over his dad’s hardware store… there’s just no way that me being a queer woman is not going to be reflected in my work.
“I could try not to do it, but why would I? It just feels like a natural extension of what I do.”
The sci-fi franchise introduced its first canonically LGBT+ character in the 2015 novel, Lords of the Sith.
Delian Mors, a human female who is part of the Imperial order, had a wife in the book, who was tragically killed in an accident.
The expanded Star Wars universe has since welcomed a host of other LGBT+ characters including Sinjir Rath Velus, Doctor Chelli Aphra, Grand Admiral Rae Sloane and non-binary Jedi Terec and Ceret.
However, LGBT+ representation on the big screen didn’t come until 2019’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
It made Disney history by featuring the first gay kiss in the movie franchise, but it was criticised for its brevity.
The Acolyte is set to begin production in 2022, while a release date is yet to be announced.