Lucasfilm Boss Kathleen Kennedy Says ‘A Lot of Women’ in ‘Star Wars’ Struggle With Fan Attacks ‘Because of the Fan Base Being So Male Dominated’

In a new interview with The New York Times for the upcoming “Star Wars” series “The Acolyte,” Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said she is aware that women in the space franchise are often attacked online more than men “because of the fan base being so male dominated.” Female stars Daisy Ridley and Kelly Marie Tran certainly faced online harassment from toxic fans when the most recent “Star Wars” film trilogy was released, and now “The Acolyte” is already being attacked in certain corners of the fandom.

“The Acolyte” is an original story created by Leslye Headland that’s set long before the events of “The Phantom Menace.” Headland, known for directing films such as “Sleeping With Other People” and co-creating Netflix’s hit comedy series “Russian Doll,” is the first woman to serve as showrunner of a “Star Wars” series. Her show includes major new female “Star Wars” characters played by the likes of Amandla Stenberg, Carrie Ann-Moss, Jodie Turner-Smith and more.

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As reported by The Times: “A loud, primordial part of the ‘Star Wars’ fandom has pushed back in predictable fashion [against the show]. ‘Why are there so many women, girls and minority characters increasingly dominating the ranks of Jedi?’ reads a comment on ‘The Acolyte’ trailer, with others expressing a similar worldview…Some trolls have nicknamed Headland’s series ‘The Wokelyte.'”

“My belief is that storytelling does need to be representative of all people,” Kennedy told the publication about her support for Headland’s “Acolyte” vision. “That’s an easy decision for me.”

“Operating within these giant franchises now, with social media and the level of expectation — it’s terrifying,” Kennedy continued. “I think Leslye has struggled a little bit with it. I think a lot of the women who step into ‘Star Wars’ struggle with this a bit more. Because of the fan base being so male dominated, they sometimes get attacked in ways that can be quite personal.”

Headland has already started to limit her exposure to online chatter about the show to block out any of the toxic fans, and the show hasn’t even debuted on Disney+ yet.

“As a fan myself, I know how frustrating some ‘Star Wars’ storytelling in the past has been. I’ve felt it myself,” she said. “I stand by my empathy for ‘Star Wars’ fans. But I want to be clear. Anyone who engages in bigotry, racism or hate speech … I don’t consider a fan.”

“The Acolyte” premieres June 4 on Disney+.

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