Cue the epic saga text scrolling, we have a new Star Wars trailer!
That’s right, Star Wars: Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker has dropped its much-anticipated final trailer.
Default fanboy giddiness aside, the trailer looks damn good. Plus, there’s the added bonus of a woman and people of color heading the charge—I spot Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac and Kelly Marie Tran in the trailer. Exciting times! But, this isn’t yet another trailer article; I’m here to give Victoria Mahoney her flowers.
An actress in the 90s, Mahoney directed her first feature film, Yelling to the Sky (starring Zoë Kravitz) in 2011. Plus, she’s bodied the television director game with credits such as Queen Sugar, Grey’s Anatomy, Power, Seven Seconds, Survivor’s Remorse, Claws, American Crime, You and more.
And with this new Star Wars chapter, Mahoney has made black history as the 2019 film’s second unit director. She has made history, period.
The Hollywood Reporter first announced the news in April 2018, noting that Mahoney was not only the first black woman to step behind the camera in that role for the film franchise, but the first woman ever to do so. As THR notes, “second unit directors lead a crew to capture additional footage, such as establishing shots and stunts.”
Mahoney’s hire has notably paved the way for female directors in the franchise, particularly in the television world. Bryce Dallas Howard was announced as one of the directors for The Mandalorian, heading to Disney’s new streaming service, Disney+, and Deborah Chow (who is also a listed director on The Mandalorian) was tapped to direct the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi live-action series on the same platform this past September.
Additionally, fans have expressed their desire and hope that this huge opportunity leads to Mahoney taking the reigns of her own Star Wars film one day.
As Charles Pulliam-Moore wrote at our family site, io9 in 2018:
Second unit directors often go on to become first unit directors and so the more opportunities there are for historically marginalized creators to get those gigs, the better. At the same time, however, insisting that people from those groups must work their way up the ladder this way in order to “prove” that they deserve to be put in the first unit directors’ chair is inherently problematic, because white guys with little to no experience are given a chance all the time. For the contrarians in the back who need to be reminded, I direct you to 47 Ronin, Tron: Legacy, The Amazing Spider-Man, Thor: The Dark World, Jurassic World, Fantastic Four, and all of the other easily Google-able examples of instances when relatively untested white directors were given multi-million dollar projects.
It doesn’t matter whether these projects succeed or fail because the core issue is that that same kind of blind faith is not traditionally put in directors who are women or people of color or queer. That kind of access and opportunity is what would ultimately make directing in Hollywood more egalitarian, and it’s still a ways off.
We do have a long way to go, indeed. Cheers to Mahoney for taking the first of many steps toward true inclusion in the big franchise space. The black excellence force is strong with this one.
Star Wars: Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker heads into theaters everywhere (and a galaxy far, far away) Dec. 20.