Rogue One star Diego Luna shared a touching story he’d seen from a fan after she had taken her father to see the film. Luna a Mexican actor, kept his thick accent in the film and Tumblr user riveralwaysknew wanted her father to see a main character in a blockbuster franchise speak the way he does. The Tumblr user took her father to see the movie the day after the New Year and it resulted in a moment she and her father will remember for the rest of their lives.
Her father couldn’t believe what he’d seen and asked why he chose to keep his accent instead of changing it to an American one. “I told him that Diego has openly talked about keeping his accent and how proud he is of it,” she wrote in her Tumblr post. She continues, “And my dad was silent for a while and then he said, ‘And he was a main character.’ And I said, ‘He was.’ And my dad was so happy. As we drove home he started telling me about other Mexican actors that he thinks should be in movies in America. Representation matters.”
The post quickly went viral, eventually reaching Luna himself, who proudly shared it on Twitter.
riveralwaysknew wasn’t the only one to be inspired by the group of minority actors featured in Rogue One. An Indian man wrote a heartfelt passage about how Riz Ahmed being in the film moved him. “[Riz Ahmed being in Rogue One] honestly brought tears to my eyes seeing it. Seeing this diversity, in a Star Wars movie, one of the biggest franchises in the world, and one of my favorite things in the world all throughout growing up. Representation MATTERS. When I was growing up, if there was an Indian superhero, or a Pakistani main character in Star Wars like there is now, maybe I would’ve loved who I was a little bit more. I needed someone like me to look up to as an 8 year old. I’ve never loved being Indian/Pakistani more than I do now. Over the past couple years, every day I love my heritage more and more and want to know and learn more about it and be more present in my culture.”
This is why representation matters. Not just for millennials growing up now, but for the older generations of people who didn’t get to grow up seeing someone on screen that looked or talked like them. Not only is diversity in casting having a positive effect on audiences, its increasing profits for films. According to a recent study by UCLA, films that have a 41-50% non-white cast do better in the global marketplace. As the second-highest grossing film of 2016, Rogue One proves diversity has also helped earn more money in the states as well.
This is just the beginning. We are starting to see women of all sizes, the LGBTQ community and people with disabilities taking leading roles on movies screens and television sets. Actresses like Melissa McCarthy and Chrissy Metz are snagging starring roles. Speechless, a primetime show, features a character with cerebral palsy played by an actor with cerebral palsy. LGBTQ relationships are becoming more common on television, like Alex Danvers and Sarah Lance on the CW’s Supergirl and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.
Hollywood is moving forward and we will hopefully see more remarkable stories and characters grace our screens.