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Kelly Marie Tran is the newest cast member of Star Wars Episode VIII!

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Entertainment Weekly just reported new Star Wars casting news now that Episode VIII has begun production, and one of the new names caught our attention. Kelly Marie Tran, a San Diego native and UCLA alum who has trained in improv with iO West, Second City, and the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, was among the newly announced cast included with the production anouncement. You might have seen some of her past work with College Humor, Comedy Bang! Bang!, and Funny or Die (check out this EW article for a more in depth look at her body of work). The fact that her announcement came alongside Benecio Del Toro and Laura Dern gives us hope that she’ll have a prominent role in the new movie.

For the longest time, the Asian community didn’t have much in terms of representation from the Star Wars franchise. Sure we had the samurai aesthetics of Darth Vader’s armor, and LT. Telsji, the ill-fated Y-Wing pilot who got in 2 lines before being blown away during the Battle of Endor, for whom NPR did a great piece on, but it always felt like we were grasping at straws when it came to feeling represented. The prequels didn’t help much when it gave us a bunch of bad guy aliens with terrible Asian accents, that one Jedi with the weird forehead and Fu Manchu beard, and turning lightsaber combat into space wushu.

All that was why it was refreshing to see a whole bunch of Asians in the cast of Episode VII, especially Ken Leung as Admiral Statura and Jessica Henwick as X-Wing pilot Jess Pava (this generation’s Wedge Antilles), two characters who weren’t caricatures, had vital roles, and didn’t die after 2 lines.

While we don’t have any details about whether Tran will be playing an actual person, droid, or CG alien a la Lupita Nyong’o, episode VIII just became way more interesting than it already was (which was already pretty dang interesting). We’ll definitely be following this story as it develops over the next two years until the movie’s 2017 release.

Are you excited about the casting news? What kind of character do you think she’ll play? Let us know in the comments!

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Cover image via College Humor

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Written on February 15, 2016 by · ·
Marvin Yueh is the managing editor of the Kollaboration Blog and the host of the KollabCast.
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