Following criticism that every Star Wars director has been a white male, Lucasfilm has done a game changer, announcing Victoria Mahoney as the Second Unit Director for Star Wars 9. Mahoney will be the first African American and first female director to work as any kind of director on a Star Wars movie, so this is a historic move for Lucasfilm.
The criticism of Lucasfilm and Star Wars first surfaced earlier this year when Variety reported a statistic that 96% of the writers and directors for Star Wars are white males. This immediately became a big issue for many people, especially considering the move for gender equality in the film industry that has become a hot topic in recent years. Considering that Star Wars is one of history's biggest franchises, fans were easily disappointed in its lack of diversity.
Realizing the issue at hand, Victoria Mahoney was added on to the above-the-line crew of Star Wars: Episode IX, answering some fans pleas for diversity sooner than anyone expected. Earlier this week, Lucasfilm General Manager and Industrial Light & Magic President Lynwen Brennan said that a female-directed Star Wars was "going to happen." Most people assumed this wouldn't for several years, likely for one of the Star Wars spin-offs, but it looks as though Brennan was actually speaking for the next Star Wars project in line.
While Victoria Mahoney won't be the actual director of Star Wars 9, as that mantle still belongs to The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams, Mahoney will be taking over as Second Unit Director. While the First Unit director J.J. Abrams will work with the leading cast and bigger picture shots during Episode IX's production, Mahoney will be working on the shots not including leading cast members. For example, cutaways, establishing shots, and most shots including stunt doubles will be covered and directed by Mahoney for this project.
Though she may not be the First Unit Director, and thus won't have much creative control, this is certainly a step in the right direction for Lucasfilm and Star Wars. It shows that they are listening to what the fans want, and prove that diversity is a priority in their business. Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy has shown previously that gender equality is important to her, considering that 50% of her leadership team consists of women.
Victoria Mahoney does have a decent background as a director. She has worked as a director on a fair number of TV shows, including Power, American Crime, and Grey's Anatomy. Before working as a director, Mahoney also acted for about ten years, appearing in Legally Blonde and Seinfeld.
The announcement of Victoria Mahoney becoming Star Wars: Episode IX's second unit director, reported by Ava DuVernay, shows a lot of promise for the movie and for the entire future of the Star Wars franchise. While Mahoney is sure to bring her talent and experience to the table for the ninth installment to the Skywalker Saga, her announcement also proves that diversity is indeed a priority at Lucasfilm. Hopefully this will lead to a female-directed Star Wars movie in the near future.