Thursday, October 31, 2019

Naomi Ackie Talks About Joining The 'Star Wars' Galaxy

By: Dominic Jones

One of the new characters we'll be meeting in Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker is Jannah, played by newcomer Naomi Ackie.  Though Ackie has been a big part of the film's promotion, appearing at both Celebration and D23 as well as on the Triple Force Friday live stream (where she saw the first Jannah action figure for the first time), little is still known about Jannah.  While details about the character will likely remain mysterious until December, Ackie did offer a few teases while also talking about what it was like for her to be cast in the film in a recent interview with the LA Times.

About Jannah, Ackie said, "She’s fierce. She’s got a lot of history involved with the issues in the film. Once you find out her story, you’re rooting for her and you can understand why she’s fighting."

And fight she will.  Ackie, as Jannah, can be seen briefly riding a Orbak (a new, horse-like creature) into battle in the latest trailer for the film, as well as in a Vanity Fair portrait shot by legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz that was released earlier this year.

The British actress also spoke about what it was like for her, as a black women, to be a part of Star Wars (where white men have made up a majority of the casts for most of the franchises 42 years).  Ackie said, "I was quite nervous about the fact that I was a person of color coming into this space that has been predominantly white. [There was] a lot of anxiety around that because you just never know."

Her anxiety is understandable given that her co-star in the film, Kelly Marie Tran, faced an extremely vitriolic backlash from certain "fans" after she became the first women of colour to play a major character in a Star Wars film in 2017's The Last Jedi.  According to The LA Times, "Ackie credits Tran for her courage in leading the way."

Tran, for her part, published an op-ed in The New York Times last year, where she opened up about the pressures she faced (and still faces) as an woman of colour in Hollywood.  She wrote at the time,

"I want to live in a world where children of color don’t spend their entire adolescence wishing to be white. I want to live in a world where women are not subjected to scrutiny for their appearance, or their actions, or their general existence. I want to live in a world where people of all races, religions, socioeconomic classes, sexual orientations, gender identities and abilities are seen as what they have always been: human beings."

Ackie echoed Tran's sentiment, saying,

"There’s a certain level of courage and bravery that you have to have when you enter into these spaces where you know for a fact you didn’t previously belong to. That sometimes requires you to shake off the shackles of inadequacy and feelings of not being good enough. It gets in the way, especially when you’ve been training sometimes twice as hard to get half as much." 

If you haven't seen the new trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker yet (or want to watch it again), you can do so below,

Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters on December 20th, 2019.  The film is directed by JJ Abrams, with a script by Abrams and Chris Terio, and stars Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Kelly Marie Tran, Mark Hamill, Billy Dee Williams, Keri Russell, Richard E. Grant, Naomi Ackie, Lupita Nyong'o, Domhnall Gleeson, Joonas Suotamo, and Carrie Fisher.

Follow The Star Wars Underworld on Twitter @TheSWU for more updates about this story and other breaking Star Wars news.


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