Obi-Wan Kenobi star Moses Ingram spoke out on Instagram Tuesday morning in response to the droves of racist social media messages she’s received from Star Wars superfans since she was cast in the Disney+ series.
“Long story short, there are hundreds of those. Hundreds,” Ingram said in an Instagram video. She shared screenshots of the cringe commentary in which she was called the N-word and various other racial slurs and flooded with hateful messages. One user wrote, “You suck, loser. You’re a diversity hire and you won’t be loved or remembered for this acting role.”
Ingram said she’s received threats saying her days were “numbered” and, from another fan of the franchise, “How the f**k does an alien know ebonics?”.
This comes just days after Ingram made her debut as the villainous Inquisitor Reva on the Star Wars spinoff that debuted on Friday, May 27. Within in a matter of days after the debut, the racist backlash poured in. “I think the thing that bothers me is that like, sort of this feeling that I’ve had inside of myself. This feeling that no one has told me, but like I just have to shut up and take it. I just gotta grin and bear it. And I’m not built like that,” said Ingram in her Instagram video.
Star Wars showed their solidarity with Ingram on Tuesday, posting a message from their official Twitter account: “We are proud to welcome Moses Ingram to the Star Wars family and excited for Reva’s story to unfold. If anyone intends to make her feel in any way unwelcome, we have only one thing to say: we resist.”
The franchise added, “There are more than 20 million sentient species in the Star Wars galaxy, don’t choose to be a racist.”
While many fans appreciated Star Wars’ statement of solidarity, others were disappointed that this level of advocacy did not come sooner.
Over the weekend, Star Wars silenced negative Twitter comments directed at actress Kelly Marie Tran that said, “Respectfully no one likes either of them,” to which the franchise’s account responded, “Respectfully, L + ratio,” closing any further window for possible hate.
This week was the first time the company has chosen to publicly rebuke racist trolls and engage with harassers. While the beloved franchise is choosing to react now via Twitter, racism from the fans is nothing new. The Star Wars fanbase has a history of being particularly heinous to POC cast members, and both John Boyega (The Force Awakens) and Tran (The Last Jedi) faced racist harassment and toxicity as early as 2014 after joining the cast. Cast and fans alike looked for Star Wars to take some tangible action during incidents with Boyega and Tran, and it’s now happening a full six years later.
In September of 2020, Post Skywalker, John Boyega spoke about being removed from the Chinese Star Wars ad and his unrelenting experience with racism, both during filming and after. This led Boyega to have a “very honest, a very transparent conversation” with Disney executives to not sideline Black and POC characters in the franchise. Tran said she experienced so much online abuse that she quit social media, saying, “If someone doesn’t understand me or my experience, it shouldn’t be my place to have to internalize their misogyny or racism or all of the above. Any time that happens, I have to close up shop and go away for a while and really interact in the real world.”
Obi-Wan Kenobi director Deborah Chow admitted that she anticipated fan hate toward any woman of color character and says she warned Ingram about potential racist rolls and backlash from fans before she was cast. In other words, Lucafilms is very aware that their fanbase is notoriously and unapologetically racist. Boyega has taken special attention to hold the franchise accountable for the part they play in their POC character’s trauma: He spoke up about Disney diluting the roles of their characters for the third film in the sequel trilogy, saying, “You get yourself involved in projects and you’re not necessarily going to like everything.
“[But] what I would say to Disney is do not bring out a black character, market them to be much more important in the franchise than they are, and then have them pushed to the side. It’s not good. I’ll say it straight up,” Boyega told Vanity Fair in 2020.
The Ingram situation seems to be the straw that inspired Disney to get in front of racist fandom and start centering the well-being of its Black and brown cast. The network will no doubt have many more battles to fight, as more shows are slated to be released with a host of diverse cast members. For now, Ingram says she appreciates Disney taking the first step in acknowledging there is a problem and providing a space for her to feel supported: “This is a thing that, unfortunately, likely will happen. But we are here to help you; you can let us know when it happens,” Ingram said earlier this month that Disney had told her.
And fans will have to, as Boyega says, “Get used to it.”