Acolyte's Amandla Stenberg Says Star Wars Helped Make Sci-Fi/Fantasy Safe for Black Nerds

Star Wars projects like The Acolyte are taking a significant step forward in promoting inclusivity and diversity within the franchise, as emphasized by the show's cast.

During an interview with Entertainment Weekly's Dagobah Dispatch podcast, actor Amandla Stenberg expressed her enthusiasm for the increasing representation of non-white actors in modern Star Wars series. "Across all of the streaming series, you can witness the progress that Star Wars is making," Stenberg stated. She went on to mention that the world of fantasy and sci-fi hasn't always been a welcoming space for people of color, despite her deep love and passion for it. Being part of the movement that aims to foster inclusion and provide a sense of security for Black nerds is a dream come true for her.

The Diversity of Jedi in The Acolyte

Little information has been revealed about the plot of The Acolyte, which features Amandla Stenberg as the lead portraying a "former Padawan who reunites with her Jedi Master to investigate a series of crimes." However, the significance of its diverse cast was emphasized by Stenberg's co-stars, including Jodie Turner-Smith, Dafne Keen, and Charlie Barnett. Keen expressed her appreciation for the diverse nature of the set, stating, "It's incredibly refreshing to be part of such a diverse cast in every sense. We come from different backgrounds and corners of the world, and it's wonderful to collaborate with such a diverse group of people." Barnett echoed this sentiment, reflecting on his own experiences and saying, "I could never have imagined myself as a Jedi before, as I never saw that representation in the past Star Wars films. Seeing such a diverse group now is truly impactful."

The Acolyte is set in the High Republic era, making it the first live-action Star Wars series to explore this time period. Taking place centuries before Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, the High Republic era is depicted in books that focus on a more enlightened Jedi Order and their conflict with adversaries of that time, particularly a group of marauders known as the Nihil. The High Republic introduces racially and sexually diverse characters, such as the asexual Jedi Knight Vernestra Rwoh and the romantic relationship between Padawan Lula Talisola and Zeen Mrala. While this era was initially explored only in books, Lucasfilm has begun adapting it into various projects, including Star Wars Jedi: Survivor and Star Wars: Young Jedi Adventures.

At Star Wars Celebration, an official trailer for The Acolyte was showcased exclusively, but it has not been released to the public yet. While most characters' names remain undisclosed, it was revealed at the event that Rebecca Henderson will portray an adult version of Vernestra.

The Acolyte is scheduled to premiere on Disney+ in 2024.

Via EW

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