What is #SWRepMatters?
#SWRepMatters began in October 2017 as a Twitter hashtag campaign aiming to highlight the strides in diversity and inclusion that Lucasfilm was making in the Star Wars franchise–and how far it had to go. Since then, we have facilitated monthly conversations highlighting specific identities (race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, body diversity etc.,) as they appear–or fail to appear–in the Galaxy Far, Far Away.
Who is behind #SWRepMatters?
The founders of #SWRepMatters are Swara Salih, Kate Sanchez, and Jess Shitara. Other significant contributors to the movement’s efforts since its inception include Ross Brown, Catrina Dennis, Shannon Joy, John Robinson IV, Maia Rose, Kate Lu Sedor, Ron SeoulOh, and SouthernCynic. A list of current contributors to this website can be found here.
What projects have you worked on?
Aside from our monthly hashtag campaigns, we have written articles and blog posts, spoken to the media about our efforts, and presented a panel at Star Wars Celebration Chicago in 2019.
What are you planning for the future?
We’re hoping to post regular content on the topics of Star Wars and representation on this website and host additional panels at other cons.
How are you defining “diversity”?
For us, “diversity” refers to groups traditionally underrepresented in Star Wars, other media, and other areas of society in general. How often do your favorite movies, TV shows, and books feature Black folks, Indigenous people, or other characters of color? Or disabled folks? Or folks who don’t have slim body types? How often do you see people from these groups becoming CEOs of large companies or politicians? It’s these marginalized folks we’re referring to when we talk about “diversity.”
How can I participate?
You can join the conversation on Twitter at any time by using the #SWRepMatters hashtag. If you have suggestions for future campaigns or projects, tweet at us or email us at contact[at]swrepmatters[dot]com. If you’d like to become a contributor, email us to tell us what you’d be interested in working on. We also love featuring guest writers–send us your pitch via email!
Why should I care about diversity in Star Wars?
Diversity isn’t just about the actors who are cast and the artists who are hired (although it is very much about them, too–being talented by itself doesn’t pay the bills!). Bringing different perspectives to the storytelling process creates better stories. George Lucas didn’t create Star Wars by himself–it takes an entire group of people, with differing perspectives, experiences, skillsets, and views, to create a film franchise. Would the original trilogy be as good without Marsha Lucas’s editing prowess, or Carrie Fisher’s script edits? Would The Empire Strikes Back be such a classic without Irvin Kershner’s directing?
Diversity is about making sure that all these different ideas–ideas that are born out of different life experiences–are present in the artistic process. The best art is collaborative, and when the majority of the decision-makers all come from the same (usually white, cis, male, upper-middle-class) background, they tend to have the same views and ideas, which makes for a more boring and less universal story.
Artistic reasons aside, diversity matters for the people who see the movies, read the books, and watch the TV shows. It shows kids around the world that heroes, villains, or scoundrels can look or sound like them–that empowers them and gives them the confidence to be the heroes of their own stories. Did you grow up looking up to Luke, Han, or Leia? Did you play in the backyard pretending you were flying down the Death Star trench? Diversity is about letting other people have that same experience and imagine themselves at these characters or filmmakers, so that they grow up knowing that they can be whatever they want to be.
We’ve all grown up in a society that treats whiteness (and in particular, white, straight, cis males) as the default–and we tell everyone else to just use their imagination to fit themselves into that role. But the truth is, anyone should be able to see themselves in a franchise like Star Wars. Countless people–from famous artists to everyday folks on Twitter–have said that without a doubt, having a role model or hero that shared their characteristics was inspiring and critical to their success and happiness. Diversity matters because everyone deserves that.
And for those who say “I don’t see myself in Star Wars anymore,” 1. Yes you do, there are still plenty of white people in Star Wars, and 2. I don’t know how to explain to you that you should care about other people.
Why can’t we just go with the best person for the job instead of trying to force the diversity angle?
Were you in the casting room? You know for sure that John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Kelly Marie Tran, Diego Luna, and others weren’t the best for their roles?
The truth is, “wanting the best person for the job” is a dog whistle for “I don’t like thinking about non-white people.” It’s hard to accept, especially when it’s so internalized because of the society we live in. When you ask that question, the implied, (barely) unspoken point you’re making is that the best person for the job is white. “Forcing the diversity angle,” as people say, is actually just opening up casting calls, job opportunities, and more for incredibly talented but marginalized individuals–people who so often are the best for the job, but so rarely have the chance to display their skills.
Oh my god, who the hell cares?!???!1!?
We do, millions of other people do, and, increasingly, the actors, writers, filmmakers, and executives at Lucasfilm do–and we’re not going anywhere.