101 Women and People of Color Who Could Write, Direct “Star Wars”

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It was announced today that Emmy winners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will write and produce a new set of films. The duo is famous for the adapting the juggernaut fantasy series Game of Thrones on HBO, based on the series by George R.R. Martin. The announcement was met with divisive reactions. While you can’t deny the popularity of the television show, many viewers have criticized the show for its violence against women, lack of diversity, and major structural issues in the writing. They also drew ire with the announcement of Confederate, a series they were developing at HBO with Malcolm Spellman and Nichelle Tramble Spellman about an alternative history in which the Confederacy won the Civil War and slavery still exists.

What is most aggravating about the Benioff and Weiss news, however, is that Kathleen Kennedy has publically said, multiple times, that they were interested in bringing in diversity to helm films set in a galaxy far, far away. However, Maureen Ryan pointed out in Variety that “the franchise’s leading creative voices have been white men 96% of the time.”

In 2016, the Lucasfilm Chief Kennedy stated, “We want to make sure that when we bring a female director in to do Star Wars, they’re set up for success. They’re gigantic films, and you can’t come into them with essentially no experience.” The comment drew backlash, naturally. Colin Trevorrow had “essentially no experience” other than a few indies when Universal hired him to bring back Jurassic Park to the big screen. Jordan Vogt-Roberts had a similar set up when he landed a new King Kong installment. Both men were hired for big projects and found success. Trevorrow was even hired for Star Wars: Episode IX after proving his abilities with Jurassic World, only later to drop out of the project, so clearly even proven success does not mean you’ll please Lucasfilm.

Kennedy went on to say, “We want to really start to focus in on people we would love to work with and see what kinds of things they’re doing to progress up that ladder now, and then pull them in when the time is right.”

With today’s news, it seems that the list of women and directors of color that Lucasfilm has on their list still isn’t up to par, or they simply wouldn’t “love” to work with them. However, fans of Star Wars are still seeking out diversity behind-the-camera in the beloved and ever-growing universe. The Force Awakens and re-hired Episode IX director, J.J. Abrams, previously said, “Going forward, you’re going to see movies that shift tonally, some that are grittier and tougher, and some more comedic in nature.” With that in mind, here are 101 female and POC directors that Lucasfilm should love to work with and start whittling through to bring the diversity to the directors’ chair and, with them, the stories they want to tell.

  1. Alejandro Inarritu
  2. Alfonso Cuaron
  3. Ali Adler
  4. Alice Winocour
  5. Amma Asante
  6. Amy Seimetz
  7. Ana Boden
  8. Ana Lily Amirpour
  9. Andrea Arnold
  10. Ang Lee
  11. Angela Kang
  12. Antoine Fuqua
  13. Ava DuVernay
  14. Aurora Guerrero
  15. Barry Jenkins
  16. Cary Fukunaga
  17. Catherine Hardwicke
  18. Chan-Wook Park
  19. Cheo Hodari Coker
  20. Chloe Zhao
  21. Courtney Hunt
  22. Debra Granik
  23. Dee Rees
  24. Daniel Destin Cretton
  25. Elizabeth Banks
  26. Emily Andras
  27. F. Gary Gray
  28. Gia Coppola
  29. Gina Prince-Blythewood
  30. Gregg Araki
  31. Greta Gerwig
  32. Guillermo del Toro
  33. Haifaa Al-Mansour
  34. James Wan
  35. J.D. Dillard (Justin Dillard)
  36. Jane Espenson
  37. Jennifer Kent
  38. Jennifer Phang
  39. Jennifer Yuh Nelson
  40. Jessica Queller
  41.  John Ridley
  42. John Woo
  43. Jon M. Chu
  44. Joon-ho Bong
  45. Jordan Peele
  46. Joseph Kahn
  47. Julia Ducournau
  48. Julie Plec
  49. Julius Onah
  50. Justin Lin
  51. Justin Simien
  52. Karyn Kusama
  53. Kathryn Bigelow
  54. Kimberly Peirce
  55. Kira Snyder
  56. Kumail Nanjiani
  57. Lana & Lily Wachowski
  58. Lee Daniels
  59. Leigh Janiak
  60. Lesli Linka Glatter
  61. Lexi Alexander
  62. Lisa Cholodenko
  63. Lucrecia Martel
  64. Lynne Ramsay
  65. Malcolm Spellman & Nichelle Tramble Spellman
  66. Mara Brock Akil & Salim Akil
  67. Marti Noxon
  68. Mary Harron
  69. Maurissa Tancharoen
  70. Meera Menon
  71. Melissa Rosenberg
  72. Michelle Lovretta
  73. Michelle MacLaren
  74. Mimi Leder
  75. Mira Nair
  76. Misha Green
  77. Moira Walley-Beckett
  78. M. Night Shyamalan
  79. Nadine Labaki
  80. Niki Caro
  81. Patricia Riggen
  82. Patty Jenkins
  83. Rebecca Thomas
  84. Reed Morano
  85. Rick Famuyiwa
  86. Rose Troche
  87. Ryan Coogler
  88. Sam Taylor Johnson
  89. Sanaa Hamri
  90. Sebastián Lelio
  91. Shonda Rhimes
  92. Sofia Coppola
  93. So Yong Kim
  94. Spike Lee
  95. Steve McQueen
  96. Susanne Bier
  97. Taika Waititi
  98. Tarsem Singh
  99. Vikram Gandhi
  100. Wendy Mericle
  101. Zhang Yimou
Tracking Board Staff
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5 Comments

  1. Seems like an arbitrary list of minorities and women. Talented, yes, but many with no experience at the “blockbuster” level…and a “Star Wars” film is a level beyond something like “Jurassic World” in technical, storytelling issues as well as expectations. Quite a few on this list have repeatedly turned down “blockbuster” type films to concentrate on “passion projects” (Katherine Bigalow notably)…some, while having done some “commercial work”, are known to be notoriously “difficult” to both crews and with studio execs. “Team Player” (“independent to a fault” and “iconoclastic” are terms that come to mind) not being in their vocabulary and “Star Wars” probably gets more studio/exec scrutiny/input than any other franchise. This is not a domain of “Auteurs”, as the extensive re writing, reshooting and re editing of “Rogue One” proved. Rian Johnson, and JJ Abrams have already proven they can work within these constraints, and in Johnson’s case, the Powers that Be were so pleased, they offered him a new trilogy. The GOT showrunners have proven their commercial instincts (and a SW film will never be as violent or as “perceived misogynistic” as GOT…which can be traced back to the source material of the novels, which they tried to stay true to).

  2. A robust list, clearly there are many possible choices. Because the Game of Thrones guys seem to only be writing/producing the films, I am holding out hope that Michelle MacLaren will be someone they look to re-team with as a director. Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Rick Famuyiwa have been on the cusp of landing some big studio projects so it wouldn’t surprise me to see them either.

    That being said, Dee Rees has said she wants to do original spectacle and have her own ‘Star Wars.’ Kumail Nanjiani has never directed before. AGI, M Night, and Cary Fukunaga don’t seem like the types who would want the studio shackles on. Kennedy hired Lord and Miller knowing full well they were improvisational comedy guys and fired them when the revealed themselves to indeed be improvisational comedy guys..

  3. Equality Leader on

    I dream of a day where people will judge a person by the content of their character and the merit of their work, not the color of their skin or the genetalia they are given. This thoughtless racist post by the tracking board staff shows that we are far away from achieving this goal.

    In an effort to move forward, their blindness has moved them in the opposite direction.

  4. Kudos to “Equality Leader”! I agree with his/her/binary’s views completely.

    The first thing I thought of upon reading this article was “Why would any self-respecting POC want to ride the coat-tails of some old white guy, rather than do something original?”

    But then I remembered how most PC types had no problem supporting a woman who, after flunking her east coast bar exam, decided to ride the coat-tails of her Arkansas lover to the Presidency rather than admit that she wasn’t “the smartest person in the world” and, regardless, go about forging her own path to the Presidency.

    I hope all of the POC listed above (and all others) will learn from the aforementioned person’s plan (which, as we know, didn’t work out so well after all) and forge their own path to their dreams rather than glom onto someone else’s.

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