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Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker is the ninth and final film, closing out a 40-year-old saga. The JJ Abrams-directed film picks up where The Last Jedi left off, following Rey, Finn, Poe, and the surviving Resistance to face the First Order. Armed with the power and knowledge of generations behind them, the final battle commences. Along the way, the gang crosses paths with smooth talker Lando Calrissian, played by the legendary Billy Dee Williams, as well as introduce new characters Jannah and Zorii Bliss, played by Naomi Ackie and Keri Russell, respectively.

HelloBeautiful’s Sade Spence sat down exclusively with screenwriter and director JJ Abrams and the cast of Star Wars to talk style and visibility as the film welcomed more women and people of color (Ackie, Russell) to the historically, predominantly white cast.

“George Lucas at that time caught a little bit of flack about Darth Vader, because he was a big black, dark figure that was evil, so he decided to bring in somebody like me, a little brown skin, a lovely little brown skin boy, to counteract that whole situation,” explains Williams of his role as the charming, cape-wearing Calrissian, in the 1980s sequels Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi.

Speaking on the sequel trilogy, Abrams says the film is cast to represent the world and the audience. “I don’t think you want to have some kind of a quota system… we didn’t write any of these characters thinking about skin color, but when you’re putting together a group if you’re not representing the world more the way it is and looks than not, I think you’re doing a disservice certainly to your audience,” he tells HB. 

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker bows Dec. 20, 2019.

Billy Dee Williams: George Lucas Brought Me In To Counteract Negative Backlash Over Darth Vader  was originally published on