There’s a new Latino in Star Wars and I’m choking on my own excitement over here. I remember how thrilled I was when I found out Jimmy “The Guy My Mom Likes on NYPD Blue” Smits was going to be in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. And he wasn’t just playing some background character, either. He was playing Bail fucking Organa, the guy every Star Wars fan knows is Leia’s adopted dad. Princess Leia was going to be a space boricua, guys!
Now, as it turns out the scripts didn’t quite have time to make Señor Smits into a fully fleshed out, awesome dude, but look at that beautiful brown face wearing that space-vest sitting in his space-chair. The new Star Wars movies, for all their problems, were showing off people in all their variety.
And that is very, very, very important! I grew up with a Star Wars in which Lando was the only prominent character of color, and so as a kid, if I wanted to play Star Wars, or I wanted to make up my own Star Wars adventures, or if eventually I wanted to make up my own original stories, it rarely occurred to me that the characters could or should be anything but white dudes.
But why should this be the case? After all, this is what Wookieepedia, the Star Wars wiki, has to say about Humans: “The Human genome was considered to be remarkably elastic… Despite overall physiological uniformity, baseline Humans varied greatly in appearance, and no two humans looked exactly alike.”
All this is to say that when the cast of the new Star Wars film was announced earlier this week, I was thrilled not to just see the cast being lead by John Boyega, but that the great Cuban/Guatemalan-American actor Oscar Isaac (Hernandez) will be playing… who knows? A good guy? A villain? A Jedi? The lovable rogue? Something else entirely? Who cares? Isaac has been on a roll, breaking down barriers Latino actors rarely get to cross, and as a fan I’m excited that his next venture is taking him to a galaxy far, far away. I’m down for it as long as he’s well drawn, prominently featured, and a lady-killer the whole time… So far we’re 1 for 3.