The first teaser poster for Solo: A Star Wars Story has been released, and let’s just say the response hasn’t been overwhelming. Or at the very least, my response isn’t overwhelming.
I’m not sure if it’s the Photoshop treatment, the color scheme (yellow’s not my favorite color), or just how the actors don’t really seem to be nailing their looks in this image, but the whole effect is just one that screams “This movie was salvaged.” Perhaps it’s also the background drama that’s surrounded this film, what with Phil Lord and Chris Miller being fired and replaced with Ron Howard.
You can read all about Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy’s reasons for firing Lord and Miller here, but what it ultimately came down to was a lack of directorial leadership amongst Lord and Miller and a mismatch between Lucasfilm’s well-oiled machine way of doing things and Lord and Miller’s more improvisational style of directing. Innovation is great, but all that admirable innovation goes out the window if you’re someone who’s not a team player. But overall, I feel like Kennedy and Lucasfilm are probably viewing this film as the new Star Wars franchise’ first big bust.
Another thing that’s infuriating to the nth degree is how there’s another brunette woman in a Star Wars film.
With respect to Our Lady of Star Wars Carrie Fisher, we need to tally up the amount of brunettes there have been in this franchise, counting Emilia Clarke (who will play someone named Kira).
Now let’s count how many women of color have been in Star Wars leading roles, including Thandie Newton (who is in this movie as a main character, but that character is shrouded in secrecy–in this photo set, she’s shown in her role in Westworld).
In short, that’s too many brunettes and too few WOC.
I’m quite sure there’s a reason Star Wars typically casts brunettes in their films; it’s to honor the first Star Wars brunette, Princess Leia. But that odd nod to Leia is only undercutting Lucasfilm’s focus to diversity. I’ve already written at length about Star Wars’ issues with WOC representation, and I’d basically be repeating myself, so I’ll just link my post here. Basically, the problem is simple: How can you have a universe full of aliens and creatures and not have a universe equally as full with people of color, especially women of color? To alter Whitney Houston’s famous lyric, It’s not right, and it’s not okay. But we’re gonna make it anyway (because that’s what women of color do).
There are two things that give me hope for SOLO: A Star Wars Story eeking out a minor win.
1. Lucasfilm do actually use WOC writers: As profiled by The New York Times, the head of Lucasfilm’s story group is Kiri Hart, a former TV and film writer and woman of color. Again, to tout Kennedy’s feminist-centric way of running Lucasfilm, Kennedy is the one who installed Hart in this seat of power.
Hart’s first act as story group head was to give female points of view a voice, and indeed she has. She’s also given women of color particular power in an industry that aims to silence them. To quote the Times:
“Today, the Lucasfilm story group is a diverse outlier in Hollywood: five of its members are people of color, and the team includes four women and seven men. This is a rarity in 2017, where women account for 13 percent, and minorities represent 5 percent, of all writers working on the top-grossing films. In addition to maintaining the continuity of the ‘Star Wars’ universe, they aim to increase its diversity.”
I don’t know if the casting branch and the writer’s branch work together at all—it can be hard to know exactly where one set of red tape ends and where another set begins. It’s also unclear if the casting decisions were left up to Lord and Miller. But regardless, hearing that there’s diversity behind the scenes gives me hope of seeing more well-rounded women of color grace the big screen soon. It also gives me hope that other marginalized people will be represented as well. You probably already know how much I talk about Stormpilot, and it’s for a reason; it’s because the LGBT community must be represented as well as women of color. Knowing that a diverse group is behind the Star Wars writing process gives added credence to Kennedy’s assertion that the fandom pairing is actually being considered as a legitimate avenue for exploration.
2. Thandie Newton is a main character; we just don’t know who she is: What has got some Solo followers upset is the rumor that several women of color tried out for Clarke’s role, with the role ultimately going to Clarke. What many WOC Star Wars fans hoped was that the role was Sana Starros, Han Solo’s former wife, and the worry is that Clarke’s role is of a whitewashed Sana. According to The Hollywood Reporter as of 2016, it’s unclear if Clarke’s role is actually the same one the other actresses—Tessa Thompson, Adria Arjona, and Zoe Kravitz—tried out for. Also, since Lucasfilm does have one of the most diverse writers’ rooms in Hollywood right now, one would hope that they wouldn’t make this kind of mistake.
However, we just might have our first clue as to who Newton is playing. In a September set photo featuring Newton and Howard, Newton is wearing a jacket with a mysterious-looking patch. SlashFilm’s Jacob Hall has surmised that the patch just might be an Imperial one, meaning Newton could be playing none other than Imperial naval officer Rae Sloane. If that’s the case, then Newton’s character will be a much-welcomed sight in the Star Wars universe.
— Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) September 30, 2017
Granted, there’s the critique that could be made that the first prominent black diasporic woman we’ve seen in a major Star Wars role is evil. But again, we don’t know who Newton is playing for sure. For all we know, she is actually playing Sana, who just happens to be wearing an Imperial jacket as some sort of subterfuge.
This was a lot of words on a teaser poster I hate, but there you have it. What do you think about Solo: A Star Wars Story? Give your opinions below!
Have you heard about Brown Girl in the Ring? Well, you’ll start hearing about it more as we head into the fall.
According to Shadow and Act, Brown Girl Begins, inspired by the 1998 afrofuturist novel Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson will make its world premiere Sept. 23 at New York’s UrbanWorld Film Festival. The film’s description, as Shadow and Act states, reads:
“In 2049 the poor are confined to an island off the mainland of Toronto renamed The Burn. Ti-Jeanne, a reluctant priestess, must resurrect Caribbean spirits and survive the possession ritual that killed her mother or her people will die.”
The Atlantic further described the novel as taking place in “a walled-off inner city filled with crime, drug addiction, and poverty where the causes of the city’s downward spiral are economic.” The economy plight eventually becomes used for political gain.
The film is written and directed by Sharon Lewis, and was successfully crowdfunded to 116 percent in 2015. Check out the trailer below, and see more pictures at Shadow and Act!
Women of color who are also makeup obsessives know just how tough it is to find makeup that compliments your exact shade. Even harder to find are makeup companies that make women of color a priority outright, not just in shade matching but in marketing as well. Looks like Rihanna has come just in the nick of time with her Fenty Beauty line.
The makeup line is set to release on Fentybeauty.com and Sephora’s website and physical stores Sept. 8, and Rihanna has put all of us (and our wallets) on notice with this hyper-inclusive, melanin-rich promotional Instagram video.
Rihanna has definitely put all major makeup brands on blast by showing how inclusivity in the makeup industry is done. Not only does she have several shades of black women in her video—showing that she does realize how hard it is for people with the darkest skintones to find matching shades and that she plans on being their go-to girl—she also features women of other ethnicities, cultures, and even religions, showing that she’s here for multiracial, multiethnic, and heavily underrepresented women. The message, plain and simple, is “You’re beautiful, and I’m here to help you flaunt your beauty.”
The shade names also speak to Rihanna’s aesthetic and the girl Rihanna’s aiming to capture with her brand. “Chili Mango,” “Yacht Life,” “Trophy Wife” and “Confetti” all speak to the girl who either has (or is working on growing) large amounts of self-confidence, self-love, and self-worth.
In short, this is going to be one of the biggest makeup events of the year, and I can’t wait to get my hands on some of the products.
The first trailer for Star Trek:Discovery is out, and it’s everything I’d hoped it would be and more!
Long-time sci-fi fans who also happen to be women of color know just how rare it is to see a woman of color in the Captain’s Chair. With Star Trek, the closest we’ve gotten is Lt. Nyota Uhura, who manned the communications for the Enterprise. She wasn’t a captain (until much, much later in the Star Trek canon), but she was on the bridge, showing young girls that they too could shoot for the stars (even if you’d only end up hitting the clouds).
This go round, we have female captain and a female first officer in Star Trek: Discovery. Michelle Yeoh plays Captain Georgiou and Sonequa Martin-Green plays Commander Michael Burnham. Here’s more about the show from ExtremeTech:
“Star Trek: Discovery is set ten years before the events of the original series and takes place in the original timeline, not the alternate future the Romulan Nero created when he traveled back in time, killed George Kirk, and later destroyed Vulcan. Its lead character is Commander Michael Burnham, played by Sonequa Martin-Green of AMC’s The Walking Dead. Unlike previous Star Trek shows, Discovery won’t deliberately focus on the captain (or space station commander) as its protagonist. Her nickname, “Number One,” is a delibarate homage to the character of the same name from the Star Trek pilott “The Cage,” as played by Majel Barrettt. Burnham is human, but was raised on Vulcan by Vulcans, which explains some of the setting of this trailer.”
What I love about this first look and synopsis, aside from it just being Star Trek, is that it seems like there will be (or there is the potential for there is to be) a nuanced look at race, culture, and the push and pull of the two. All of this seems to be embodied in Martin-Green’s character. Of course, in the future, everyone’s post-racial to a degree. But Since we’re in 2017, I like how Burnham is a black woman who is 1) not defined by an American stereotype of “blackness,” and 2) has a struggle between her humanness and her cultural upbringing on Vulcan. I think this type of character could appeal to many audience members who have grown up wrestling with parts of their identity that society wants to put at odds with each other; maybe the most analogous situation is a trans-racial adoptee who recognizes that they are not the same race as their parents, but have grown up in their parents’ culture instead of the culture everyone expects from them.
On the whole, though, it’s just fun to see two women running the show. Both actors have proven themselves time and again (Yeoh in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon among her other films, Martin-Green’s character Sasha on The Walking Dead), and it’s so rewarding to see two women of color hold down the fort in a genre that is still dominated by white men. I can’t wait to see them in action.
What do you think about Star Trek: Discovery? Give your opinions in the comments section below! Star Trek: Discovery debuts with a two-part season premiere this fall on CBS, with the full season airing on CBS All Access.
We’re all trying to survive the news of a Trump presidency the best we can. I’m sure if you’re anything like me, you’re flailing about, trying remember what self-care looks like in the face of adversity. I say it like that because for too long, self-care gets treated as a luxury instead of the necessity that it actually is. If there’s any time to learn that lesson, it’s right now.
Fusion’s Collier Meyerson asked women of color what their self-care looked like in a Trump world, and the answers varied from listening to music, to asking folks for space, to body treatments. Some of the answers are as follows:
“When I feel hopeless like this—because of my humanity, because of what’s inside of me—I like to watch YouTube clips of black women winning awards. Ha! It’s weird. I like to pull Halle Berry winning her Oscar or Lupita [Nyong’o]. It is such a balm to see us WIN, even though now, it seems like those moments are now much fewer and far between. But for a fleeting moment, yo—I watch women, black women, my women, win and cheer and cry and stand on top of the world—and I feel like there’s room for me.”
– Jazmine Hughes, editor
“Scheduled acupuncture appointments at a low cost ($45) at Pacific College of Medicine [in New York City], playing gospel, drinking water, and giving myself gentle touch. That’s about all I can do right now.”
– Lucille Songhai, community affairs director for the Manhattan Borough President
“I did not watch any media coverage of the election last night; that felt like self-care to me. It just feels like a soap opera. Today, I woke up and I’m doing a 40-day meditation practice called the ‘Oneness of Heart,’ and it’s a meditation to connect with my heart on a deep level. With all the chaos and dismay around the world, to value my heart and all connections available and around in all this division, is important. Also, taking time to breathe and to cuddle.
– Shirley Johnson, psychotherapist and yoga teacher
Take a look at Fusion’s full list of self-care tips here.
I would like to say I have some self-care tips to add to this list, but unfortunately, I’m new to the self-care practice. One thing I have suffered from, like a lot of black women and women in general, is feeling like I have to be strong at all times. So my first step towards self-care is realizing that it’s not a weakness to feel less-than-superwoman. In fact, it’s human. So maybe my tip to anyone reading this that is new to the world taking care of yourself is to just remember to take things one step at a time and to be patient with yourself; unlearning bad habits won’t happen overnight, even if you wish they would. It also helps to watch calming things on YouTube. I usually watch a ton of baking videos to help me de-stress.
What are some self-care tips you utilize all the time? Write them down in the comments section below!
Having become a newly-minted fan of Magic: The Gathering, it’s a great opportunity to dive into the types of representation the company is striving towards. In case you’re wondering, my new fandom of the company stems from the fact that I am the consultant on Magic: The Gathering’s first black female Planeswalker, Kaya, Ghost Assassin. Instead of rehashing the particulars of how Kaya positively affects Magic’s representation mission, check out these links explaining the character and the process I took when providing notes.
There are other people of color out there who might not have given a second thought to Magic: The Gathering, quite frankly, because in communities of color, games like Magic are often labeled as “white people stuff.” That idea comes from how fantasy at large is treated; it’s usually a free for all for white characters to exist in a world devoid of racial/ethnic diversity. But to its credit, Magic is doing their best to meet the challenge of diversity in fantasy head on. Not only is Kaya one of their newest Planeswalkers, but they also are aiming to represent the multitude of players out there with characters who reflect our world. One such character that I’m really excited about is Saheeli.
Here’s the official bio of Saheeli:
On her home plane of Kaladesh, Saheeli is a famous inventor renowned as the most brilliant metalsmith of her time. She’s best known for the bewitchingly lifelike artifact constructs she crafts out of gleaming iridescent metal. From the smallest insect to the largest elephant, Saheeli has an uncanny ability to replicate any creature she sees, capturing the essence of its life in her metal creation. Admirers, collectors, and investors flock to see her designs, spending hours gazing, enraptured by her artistry.
Her innate, effortless talent has made her the envy of many fellow inventors, especially lifecrafters who look to her both for inspiration and as a formidable rival. Saheeli doesn’t shy away from competition; when it comes to defending her hard-earned reputation, she is fiercely cutthroat. But when not in contest, she’s wholly supportive of the efforts of other inventors, happy to share advice, a kind word, or an encouraging smile. She thrills at the prospect of innovation, and basks in the creative spirit that surrounds her in Ghirapur. Her bright, optimistic personality draws others to her, and her genuine, thoughtful nature resonates with her fans, who hail from all corners of Kaladesh.
Saheeli’s talents extend beyond what the people of Kaladesh realize or understand. She’s a Planeswalker with a powerful magical command over metal. She can access seemingly endless threads of metal, which she can then weave into one of her creations. And once created, Saheeli’s magic allows her to compel her metal constructs to do her bidding. Thanks to her abilities, she’s never at a loss for an artifact companion.
So, what’s the excitement about Saheeli for? Well, for starters, she’s one of the few women of color in the cast line-up. At present count, there are two other women of color—Kaya and Narset. Another character worth noting in this group as an adjacent member is Tamiyo, who is a member of the moonfolk. The moonfolk’s culture and the moonfolk’s plane, Kamigawa, are loosely based on Japanese culture. In fact, Magic admits this in their description of Kamigawa:
Reminiscent of sengoku-era Japan, this plane contains two symbiotic worlds: the utsushiyo, or material realm, and the kakuriyo, or kami spirit realm. Each kami was a divinity, and the way to happiness was to honor these gods and live by their ways. The inhabitants of Kamigawa were content with this life of devotion. Then the unimaginable happened. Their gods turned on them.
Naturally, the small amount of women of color (and people of color of all genders) is an issue, but Magic is well aware of this issue and are actively working to correct this as best they can. The increase in representation of women of color in the Planeswalker series is something that is encouraging and seeing how serious Magic is about representation, I’m quite certain there’s more coming down the pike towards this end. Saheeli is a welcome addition to the list of women Planeswalkers.
Secondly, she’s the first Planeswalker that is repping for South Asian culture (to my knowledge): From what I’ve seen and researched, there hasn’t been another Planeswalker that has focused on South Asian representation. Just like with Kaya, Saheeli touches on a section of the Magic audience that hasn’t seen them in Planeswalker form. Also like with Kaya, what Saheeli represents is empowering.
Thirdly, seeing Saheeli cosplayers warms my heart. This particular cosplay took place during PAX West, which featured Kaladesh, Saheeli’s plane, and the Kaladesh Inventors’ Fair.
— Space Punk Spranks✨ (@cspranklerun) September 3, 2016
It’s going to be great to see even more Saheeli cosplay (as well as Kaya cosplay!)
Welcome to the Planeswalker family, Saheeli!
What do you love about Saheeli and Kaladesh? Give your opinions in the comments section below!
The formulation of this post started at some point between this tweet:
— Monique Jones (@moniqueblognet) April 9, 2016
And this tweet:
— Monique Jones (@moniqueblognet) April 9, 2016
with some final conclusions coming in at around these tweets:
@BlackGirlNerds I know one thing—I’M about to write for us! I’m getting on my script before the night is out!
— Monique Jones (@moniqueblognet) April 9, 2016
Congrats on a job well done, @NikkiBeharie I’ve been a fan since “42” and I’m looking forward to your next project.
— Monique Jones (@moniqueblognet) April 9, 2016
Indeed, several TV critics on Twitter were aghast at what happened:
I haven’t watched #SleepyHollow since early S2 and tonight’s news still makes me sad. What a waste of a show on all levels. Crikey.
— Ryan McGee (@TVMcGee) April 9, 2016
Been a long time since I watched Sleepy Hollow, but when I liked it, it was for the interplay of the leads. Sounds like a big mess now.
— Alan Sepinwall (@sepinwall) April 9, 2016
— Mo Ryan (@moryan) April 9, 2016
And several online recaps had the same theme throughout the post: If Abbie and Nicole Beharie are gone, then what’s the point of even watching the show? Just as important: Why on God’s green earth would the writing team as a whole (including the showrunner) go out of their way to lead the fanbase on and act like they were going to give the fanbase what they wanted (which is a final say-so on #Ichabbie) just to turn around and destroy the only thing that made the show worth watching? To quote Vulture’s Rose Maura Lorre, “The latter statements [of Pandora stating in her dying breaths that Ichabod loves Abbie] lead me to believe that, intentional or not, this show’s careless disregaard of its Ichabbie ‘shippers has been fucked up. Make them just-friends or make them more-than-friends, but have a conversation about it and stick to your decision. Don’t keep stringing the ‘shippers along with your hand-kissing and your ‘be still my beating heart’ (which no person has ever said platonically) while you know Abbie’s imminent fate full well.” And as The A.V. Club’s Zack Handlen wrote, “I’m not sure if there were behind-the-scenes issues we are privy to, but Beharie’s a crucial element of the series. Tom Mison is a fine actor, but without the two of them together, what’s the damn point?”
The chemistry between the two leads, Tom Mison and Beharie, was the only thing that kept mostly everyone tuned in. (I say most, because somehow, there are folks out there who think Sleepy Hollow is just Ichabod’s story of time travel. When was he the only lead on this show? I have a lot more to say about this later on in this post.) Sure, the creative elements that made up the show, like the lighting, the set design, the creature makeup and stuntwork, and the time travel/Christian apocalypse madness were amazing and really gave the show its creepy edge. But the glue that stuck all of those disparate parts together were the grounding forces provided by Ichabod and Abbie. Without one or both of them, the show’s just a bunch of junk, to be quite honest about it. So I ask again: Without Abbie, what the f*ck is the point of watching a fourth season?!
I don’t even like using coarse language, but how else am I supposed to get this point across? How much more plainly can I say it? Abbie was the show. Even Mison would agree to that, I’m sure, since he was never without a kind word to say about working with Beharie and being able to share the same breathing air as her. Mison has always stuck up for Beharie and looking back on it, it makes a lot of sense as to why neither Mison nor Beharie have done a lot of press for this season. It’s slowly come out that Beharie was deeply unhappy during S2 and wanted out of her contract, and I don’t blame her for wanting to leave, because as I’ve written before, Abbie was made to be a house slave for Witchy White Feminist Katrina. As far as Mison is concerned, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if Mison eventually leaves as well. If someone decides to interview Mison about his thoughts on everything, I betcha he’ll reveal his true emotions over this, just like how he did with Ichabod fawning over Katrina in S2. (To paraphrase him from an earlier interview, he had a serious disagreement with the writers about how Ichabod was acting out of character. We already know how he felt about Katrina from some of his DVD commentary, in which he shades Katrina for only being able to lift a stick even though she was supposed to be a powerful witch.)
I could just go on rambling, but I’m going to use my favorite writing tools—bullets—to boil down my points into easy-to-follow chunks.
The past three fall TV seasons have been amazing in terms of Stage 1 in Addressing Diversity in Entertainment. We’ve seen breakout shows like Sleepy Hollow (in it’s first season; for coverage on last season and the present one, click here), How to Get Away with Murder, Jane the Virgin, Elementary, the continuation of Scandal‘s dominance, etc., etc. But there something these shows, and other shows this season including Minority Report and Quantico have in common; they all include women of color with white men. What’s with that?