Star Wars: Ahsoka Star Explains Why 'Gender Doesn’t Matter' In Franchise

By Savannah Sanders Posted:
Ahsoka, Rosario Dawson, Hera, Star Wars logo

A newly-revealed star of Disney+'s Ahsoka addressed the future Star Wars series' all-female cast and why she "didn't even notice." 

While Lucasfilm had long since announced Natasha Liu Bordizzo's role in the Rosario Dawson-led Ahsoka, it was at Star Wars Celebration in London that Mary Elizabeth Winstead was confirmed to be playing Hera Syndulla.

Even though other Star Wars Rebels characters are expected to appear, Lucasfilm's Ahsoka presentation suggested that this trio of women are the show's leads. 

Granted, female leads are nothing new in Star Wars. However, the same can't be said for three leading ladies which, according to Ahsoka's cast, is "revolutionary" in that it wasn't news. 

Ahsoka Cast Talks Transcending Gender

Hera Syndulla, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Star Wars
Star Wars

At Star Wars Celebration, Hera Syndulla actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead confessed to The Wrap she "didn't even notice" that Ahsoka was a "female-led show:"

“I was saying to Rosario [Dawson] that I really didn’t even notice until we had been shooting for a little while — that it was such a female-led show — because we never commented on it."

Instead, Winstead explained that "It was just Star Wars," and that's what's "really revolutionary:"

“It was just ‘Star Wars’. We’re just all here making Star Wars. So one day, I’m like, ‘Oh my God. Wait a second. This is really amazing.’ So there’s something really revolutionary to me about the fact that we didn’t even need to talk about it.”

The Hera star also acknowledged that "'Star Wars' started a trend" with Carrie Fisher's Princess Leia; and now, all the years and projects later, it's a norm that "we don't really need to call attention to" as "these characters transcend gender:"

“‘Star Wars’ started a trend starting with Princess Leia and has continued and it has grown and it’s grown to the point where now, that sort of doesn’t really matter, gender doesn’t matter. It’s ‘Star Wars’. We’re all in this together. So there’s something really special about being a part of something like that, that we don’t really need to call attention to it. Because these characters transcend gender in that way.”

Sabine Wren, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Ahsoka
Star Wars

Sabine Wren's Natasha Liu Bordizzo echoed her co-star's sentiment, saying gender was "a non-existent thing" on Ahsoka while also noting the absence of pressure "to look any kind of way:"

“I mean, gender is just such a non-existent thing for the portrayal of this warrior. What I loved about it was that I was in full body armor with sometimes short hair through the whole show, so there was just no pressure to look any kind of way or be aware of [gender roles]. I was just very in my body.”

Bo-Katan Kryze, Katee Sackhoff
Star Wars

Actress Katee Sackhoff who not only voiced her character, Bo-Katan Kryze, in animation but also plays her in live-action also added to the conversation.

According to The Mandalorian star, gender doesn't determine who can inspire audiences, admitting that "I wanted to be Bruce Willis when I was a little kid:"

“As the mother of a daughter, it is such a beautiful thing to know that she has so many different characters, women and men to look to. We don’t necessarily have to be inspired by somebody that’s just our gender. I wanted to be Bruce Willis when I was a little kid."

What does inspire Sackhoff is "good writing, good stories" and a "character that we can fall in love with:"

"And so as long as there’s good writing, good stories, and it’s a character that we can fall in love with and root for — that’s what inspires me.”

A Rebel, a Mandalorian, & a Jedi

Much like Mary Elizabeth Winstead's own experience, the reality that Ahsoka features a female trio wasn't truly part of the public consciousness until Star Wars Celebration. 

And, in her words, that fact is "revolutionary," but at the same time, it's also "Star Wars."

From the beginning, George Lucas never wrote a sarcastic princess leading a rebellion or a young, female Padawan holding her own against the Chosen One as anything but normal; and audiences responded in kind. 

Dave Filoni continued this precedent in Star Wars Rebels where Hera Syndulla's leadership skills and piloting prowess, as well as Sabine's Mandalorian ways, were treated as natural, not novel. 

As a result, leading up to Ahsoka on Disney+, Star Wars fans never saw an all-female cast; they only saw a rebel, a Mandalorian, and a former Jedi who all just happen to be women

Once Ahsoka debuts, hopefully, the conversation remains focused on Filoni's "good writing, good stories" and "good characters." And, hopefully, the lack of conversation concerning the cast's gender is the only time it needs to be discussed. 

Ahsoka arrives on Disney+ in August 2023.

- In This Article: Ahsoka
Release Date
August 22, 2023
Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Natasha Liu Bordizzo
- About The Author: Savannah Sanders
Savannah Sanders joined The Direct as a writer in 2020. In addition to writing for The Direct's Star Wars, Marvel, and DC teams, Savannah specializes in the relationship between Disney's blockbuster franchises and the Disney Parks.