Star Wars bosses warned Obi-Wan Kenobi star Moses Ingram to expect racism from fans

As the Star Wars fandom celebrates the release of the Obi-Wan Kenobi series on Disney Plus, the ugly undertones of racism that’s rife within the fandom has emerged once more.

Moses Ingram plays Reva, an Inquisitor working to track down any remaining Jedi, in Obi-Wan Kenobi, released on Friday (27 May).

Ingram is a Black woman, and she revealed in an interview with The Independent that LucasFilm forewarned her about the racist harassment she was likely to expect following her casting.

“It was something that Lucasfilm actually got in front of, and said: ‘This is a thing that, unfortunately, likely will happen. But we are here to help you; you can let us know when it happens,'” she said.

Star Wars has long faced criticism for its lack of diversity, and Moses Ingram, best-known for starring in The Queen’s Gambit, noted the absurdity of it having so few BIPOC characters.

Obi-Wan is going to bring the most diversity I think we’ve ever seen in the galaxy before,” she said.

“To me, it’s long overdue. If you’ve got talking droids and aliens, but no people of colour, it doesn’t make any sense. It’s 2022, you know. So we’re just at the beginning of that change. But I think to start that change is better than never having started it.”

Despite the praise that Moses Ingram shared for LucasFilm, her story reveals how little has changed within the Star Wars fandom since the casting of Black actor, John Boyega, and Asian-American actor, Kelly Marie Tran, in the sequel trilogy.

Both actors have spoken out about the hate they endured from the fandom.

The online abuse, both racist and sexist in nature, got so bad for Tran that she left social media because of the downward “spiral of self-hate” the constant trolling caused her.

POC actress, Kelly Marie Tran, sits on the left-hand side of the stage, interviewed by a male presenter, a picture of her Star Wars character in between them.

Kelly Marie Tran attends the Build Series to discuss ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ at Build Studio on December 09, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Dominik Bindl/Getty Images)

The impact on Tran’s mental health was so bad that she turned down numerous projects after Star Wars due to the disillusionment it had caused.

In an IndieWire interview, Tran said: “It felt like I was just hearing the voice of my agents and my publicity team and all of these people telling me what to say and what to do and how to feel. I realized, I didn’t know how I felt anymore. And I didn’t remember why I was in this in the first place.”

She continued: “Any time that happens, I have to close up shop and go away for a while and really interact in the real world — read books and journal and go on hikes and look at a tree and remind myself that there was a fire that burned inside of me before Star Wars, before any of this. And I needed to find that again.”

Although Tran has since found her passion and drive for acting again, having been cast as voice of Disney princess, Raya, the impact her experiences had on both herself and the legacy of the franchise are still felt to this day.

Boyega has also ben frank about his experiences, and has been critical of Disney’s sidelining of POC characters in the franchise.

“What I would say to Disney is do not bring out a Black character, market them to be much more important in the franchise than they are and then have them pushed to the side,” he told GQ.

“Like, you guys knew what to do with Daisy Ridley, you knew what to do with Adam Driver. You knew what to do with these other people, but when it came to Kelly Marie Tran, when it came to John Boyega, you know f**k all.”

Since 2015, and the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, LucasFilm has vowed to embrace diversity. It’s an element of the series that’s long overdue, which is why more recent releases, such as The Book of Boba Fett, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and the upcoming Ahsoka series, have purposely tried to make the universe created match the diversity of our own.

The Acolyte, another upcoming Disney+ series, will star Amandla Stenberg and is written by gay writer Leslye Headland, who has promised to bring a queer perspective to the franchise.

The first two episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi are streaming on Disney+ from 27 May.