Lucasfilm Head Talks New ‘Star Wars’ Series From LGBTQ/Activist Director Leslye Headland

Leslye Headland attends the studio panel at Star Wars Celebration 2023 in London at ExCel on April 07, 2023 in London, England.
Photo by Jeff Spicer/Jeff Spicer/Getty Images for Disney

Disney’s Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy defended the new “Star Wars” series “The Acolyte” from LGBTQ/activist director Leslye Headland amid criticism about the very minority and female-centric show.

Speaking to The New York Times, Kennedy said that oftentimes when women step into the “male-dominated” “Star Wars,” they often “struggle” because of misogyny.

“Operating within these giant franchises now, with social media and the level of expectation — it’s terrifying,” Kennedy said. “I think Leslye [Headland] 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,” she added. “Because of the fan base being so male-dominated, they sometimes get attacked in ways that can be quite personal.”

She also defended hiring Headland to create the first “Star Wars” series written by a woman.

“My belief is that storytelling does need to be representative of all people,” the head of Lucasfilm said. “That’s an easy decision for me.”

Headland avoids the discussions online, good or bad, about her upcoming series and told the Times, “As a fan myself, I know how frustrating some ‘Star Wars’ storytelling in the past has been. I’ve felt it myself.”


“I stand by my empathy for Star Wars fans,” she added. “But I want to be clear. Anyone who engages in bigotry, racism or hate speech … I don’t consider a fan.”

Earlier this year, a video from the 2023 Star Wars Celebration resurfaced in which Headland said the new series will be like the children’s movie “Frozen,” which she labeled “coded queer.”

Headland talked about watching “Frozen” as an adult and was captivated by “the concept of true love being between two sisters and not a heterosexual relationship.” She said it “inspired” her to create a similar story that her parents would have allowed her to watch when she was a younger “queer” person, as previously reported.

In 2021, Headland spoke to the Advocate about having representation on “The Acolyte,” on screen and behind the scenes.

She said with her new series, she fully “intends to allow her own personal experiences as a queer woman shine through in the finished product.”

“In the same way that the original ‘Star Wars’ film, ‘A New Hope,’ is about a young man living in Modesto, California, who doesn’t want to take over his dad’s hardware store,” Headland said. “There’s just no way that me being a queer woman is not going to be reflected in my work. I could try not to do it, but why would I? It just feels like a natural extension of what I do.”

She also talked about the characters in her stories and made it clear they will all be queer, in some way.

In 2020, Headland spoke to Entertainment Weekly about improving LGBTQ representation in films and promised that “Star Wars” fans will “see more morally ambiguous characters than you’ve seen in other ‘Star Wars’ content.”

“The Acolyte” debuts on Disney+ on June 4.

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