Out non-binary actor Amandla Stenberg (The Hate U Give) is set to lead the highly anticipated and mysterious new Disney+ series Star Wars: The Acolyte, according to Deadline.
Fans have been eagerly awaiting details on the new series, which has largely remained shrouded in secrecy since its surprise announcement at the Disney Investor Day in 2020. What we do know is that the show is being run, written, and executive produced by out lesbian showrunner Leslye Hedland (Russian Doll), who's the first queer person to serve in that capacity in Star Wars history. And as Hedland told The Advocate previously, she's bringing her queer lens to the project. "I think that because storytelling, at its core, is always going to come down to either the personal or emotional through-line to your characters, your identity is important. And like I said, mine is just going to be in my work, whether I'm explicitly dealing with it or not, it's always going to be there," she shared. Hedland also made it clear that representation on screen was essential to her, and the casting of Stenberg is the beginning of her making good on that promise.
Stenberg came out as gay in Seventeen in 2018 and clarified their sexuality after having previously come out as bisexual in 2016. "I love that we have this umbrella term of queer, and so many things can exist underneath it, but I realized that part of my journey was hiding underneath that umbrella, because I was scared -- on a personal and a public level -- to confront what I was," they said at the time. "It was easier for me to say 'I'm bi' or 'I'm pan' as I was figuring it out. But I came to a place where I felt really proud of my sexuality, and I decided I wanted to share that pride." Now they get to bring all that pride to the Star Wars universe.
Despite the casting of Steinberg, actual plot details surrounding The Acolyte remain scarce. It's reportedly a "mystery-thriller that will take viewers into a galaxy of shadowy secrets and emerging dark-side powers in the final days of the High Republic era," according to Disney and Lucasfilm's official synopsis. While it hasn't been confirmed, Stenberg is likely playing the role of Aura, who, according to leaks, is the main character the series centers around. Based on its title, it's believed the series will follow a Force user who's been trained in the dark side (acolytes are the Sith equivalent of Jedi padawans), but as this is all speculation based on leaks, it's perhaps best to take that with a grain of salt. One thing is sure though: With both Headland and now Stenberg attached, we are so ready to go on this new journey to a galaxy far, far away with them.
Star Wars: The Acolyte is set to begin shooting in 2022 and will air on Disney+.