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Star Wars' fandom is "male dominated," and the franchise needs "to be representative of all people" says Lucasfilm boss

Women "can be attacked in ways that can be quite personal," says Lucasfilm's Kathleen Kennedy

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Across the past decade, as Star Wars has expanded into new directions, new storylines, and new characters, a small but vocal part of fandom has made its displeasure about that very clear online. Bad news for that group, however; Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy isn’t interested in limiting either the definition or the potential audience of the franchise.

Kennedy addressed online complaints that Star Wars was being 'woke' in focusing on female leads in projects such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Ahsoka, or The Acolyte in the middle of a New York Times profile of Acolyte creator Leslye Headland, while describing her support of both the series and Headland as a creator.

“My belief is that storytelling does need to be representative of all people,” Kennedy told the Times, simply. “That’s an easy decision for me.”

She continued, “Operating within these giant franchises now, with social media and the level of expectation — it’s terrifying. 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.”

If Headland has struggled with it, she may have found her footing as The Acolyte nears release; she told the Times via text message, “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.”

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The subject of bigoted Star Wars fans is one that’s been raised repeatedly across the last few years, with Last Jedi actor Kelly Marie Tran speaking about her experience about being forced off social media by the hatred she faced. In contrast, Daisy Ridley this year said that complaints about sexism “get blown out of proportion”, adding, “I’ve only ever been embraced.”

The Acolyte — which features a diverse cast and a queer creator — debuts June 4 on Disney+.

Not done with Star Wars yet? Dive into the films and TV shows with our Star Wars watch order, or debate on which was the best with our ranked list of the best (and worst) Star Wars movies. And since it's now upon us, follow along with Popverse's coverage of The Acolyte.

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