‘Star Wars’: When Will Lucasfilm Hire a Woman to Direct One of the Movies?

Star Wars is easily one of the most popular movie series of all time. But even in a “galaxy far, far away,” the future is uncertain. Director J.J. Abrams’ The Rise of Skywalker wrapped up the 42-year Skywalker saga, to a mixed response. Now fans are asking, “What’s next?”

At the moment, not a whole lot, it seems. Now is the first time since Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm in 2012 when we have no clue about any upcoming Star Wars films. Rather, the saga is turning to Disney+ for the time being.

No decisions have been made — or, at least, announced — on the film side. So some fans are wondering if Lucasfilm could finally be preparing to hire a woman to direct the next film. After all, Star Wars is overdue for a little variety behind the camera.

Producer Kathleen Kennedy and Mark Hamill
Producer Kathleen Kennedy and Mark Hamill | Christopher Jue/Getty Images for Disney

‘Star Wars’ has always suffered from a clear lack of diversity

When the original Star Wars released in the 1970s, it was a very different time. Representation and diversity weren’t as widely advocated for as they should have been. So the entertainment industry was slow to progress. But now this attitude is far more mainstream, and Star Wars has begun to reflect that.

For the longest time, the Star Wars saga featured a near absence of female characters and people of color. Carrie Fisher’s Leia Organa and Billy Dee Williams’ Lando Calrissian are the only substantive exceptions in the original trilogy. Representation improved a bit with the prequels, but it wasn’t until the sequel trilogy Star Wars focused on improving diversity.

After all, Star Wars: The Force Awakens introduced four new leads, only one of which is a white man. But behind the camera, Star Wars has remained just as monochromatic as ever. Abrams, Gareth Edwards, Rian Johnson, and Ron Howard are the only directors to touch the big-screen Star Wars adventures in the Disney era.

Kathleen Kennedy reveals if a woman will direct a ‘Star Wars’ film

With comic book movies dominating the box office year after year, the pressure is on Marvel Studios — which, like Lucasfilm, is Disney-owned — and DC Films to bring on a more diverse group of filmmakers. In 2020, women directed four of the most hotly anticipated Marvel and DC films. So it stands to reason Star Wars would be held to the same standard.

Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, recently answered a question about female Star Wars directors. At first, Kennedy deferred to the TV side of the saga. Notably, she said they are “cultivating a lot of great talent,” particularly on Disney+ series The Mandalorian. But pressed about the movies, Kennedy answered without hesitation whether a woman will be given the reins to the saga.

“Oh, absolutely! Without question” she said.

Yet, the question remains of when Lucasfilm will actually hire a female director. The company has a spotty history with filmmakers in general. In fact, this current incarnation of Lucasfilm is famous for losing directors. For instance, fans are still debating whether Colin Trevorrow’s version of Episode IX would have been better than what Abrams made.

The saga might just promote one of its Disney+ directors

As Kennedy herself points out though, Lucasfilm is already taking baby steps toward a female-directed Star Wars film. Both Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard directed episodes of The Mandalorian Season 1. The former was even hired to direct the entire Obi-Wan Kenobi show. If that Disney+ series really is on hold, Chow could be bumped to another project.

Clearly, Kennedy and her team are rightfully protective of the Star Wars brand. It’s likely why they defaulted back to Abrams when Trevorrow left The Rise of Skywalker. But Chow has proven herself adept at tackling the saga. We still don’t know what Lucasfilm has planned for the future. If they’re looking for an in-house director to promote, they’ve got one.