We don’t usually spill a lot of ink on the status of second unit directors—i.e., the leaders of the teams tasked with filming stuff like action scenes and other less-central shots on the set of a blockbuster film—but we’re happy to make an exception for Star Wars, and, specifically, the news that Disney has hired Victoria Mahoney to take the role on the upcoming Star Wars: Episode IX. The news was trumpeted today by filmmaker Ava DuVernay, a friend of the film’s top director, J.J. Abrams, who was clearly thrilled at the thought of a black woman making inroads in a franchise that’s frequently struggled to get people who aren’t white men in leading positions behind the camera.
Mahoney’s directing credits to date are largely in TV; she’s worked on shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Queen Sugar, American Crime, and the upcoming American reboot of Misfits. She broke into the industry with the 2011 drama Yelling To The Sky, which starred Zoë Kravitz, Jason Clarke, and Gabourey Sidibe.
Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy has pledged repeatedly in the past to work on Star Wars’ problems with behind-the-scenes diversity. She’s also said, though, that, “We want to make sure that when we bring a female director in to do Star Wars, they’re set up for success.”