Star Wars has been an epic tale of heroism for decades of young, mostly male fans. But in the new era, there are some rumblings of a change in the force, mostly about giving women a higher profile both on and off screen. The first sign that women might be taking a larger role in the Star Wars franchise was the fact that Kathleen Kennedy took over as president of LucasFilm. Kennedy immediately set-up an impressive, mostly female, executive team.
Despite what some angry chauvinist fans online might prefer, the team is making good on their plans to “boldly go” in this new direction (oh wait, maybe that quote is from Star Trek). Creative Executive Rayne Roberts puts it this way, “Because women are always in story meetings, [no one has] to go, ‘Hey, what would a woman think?’” In regards to the new female leads in the most recent movies, Roberts says, “Kathy has given women the kind of roles they’ve always dreamed of.”
In 2015’s the Force Awakens, the team created a female lead in Rey, a scavenging orphan who gets caught up in the resistance. She becomes a powerful heroine more capable than her male counterparts in using the force to defeat the dark side. In the climax of the movie, she even is able to use the force to defeat the main villain and save a male character. That’s female empowerment.
In the most recent film, Rogue One, female leadership is evident throughout the entire plot, including again in the main protagonist, Jyn. Jyn’s mother, Lyra Erso, convinces her husband to stop doing research when she realizes it is being used for evil (to build the Death Star). Then, when the family’s hiding spot is found, she single-handedly confronts the troops with a blaster to protect her husband. Her last words to the villain before he kills her and takes her husband captive were a strong, “You’ll never win.”
After this, her daughter Jyn becomes the main protagonist as she escapes the empire’s forces. Jyn later comes up with a plan to steal the plans for the Death Star and goes “rogue” to accomplish this despite having her plan rejected by the rebels’ council. At the end of the movie, after she sacrifices her life for this mission, another woman, Princess Leia, takes possession of the plans for the Death Star. This chain of strong female leads changes the feel of the greater story arc in a way that can connect to a generation of young girls in the same way it did to mostly young boys a generation ago.
Here at Leadership Triangle, we celebrate female leadership, too. We not only train the next generation of female leaders of the Triangle but both our present director, Jesica Averhart, and our immediate past director, Winkie La Force, both exemplify this strong female leadership. Don’t worry. We won’t make any “May La Force be with you” puns. Hmm, or maybe we just made one. Regardless, the force of female leadership is strong with us and in the new generation of Star Wars movies and we are proud to be a part of training the next generation of Reys, Jyns, Winkies and Jesicas.