Blockbuster film director J.J. Abrams announced that his production company, Bad Robot, will begin taking steps to broaden its hiring requirements to include the same type of diversity that is represented in America.
Speaking to a New York Times reporter at a conference held in Half Moon Bay, California, Tuesday night, the Star Wars: The Force Awakens director said hiring a diverse crew and actors through his company "has to be a systematic approach." That's why he is vowing to change the hiring policy to include writers, directors, and actors that are more representative "of the country we live in, which roughly breaks down to: 50 percent women, 12 percent black, 18 percent Hispanic, 6 percent Asian," he said.
The company memo Abrams circulated promised that minorities will be hired in "greater numbers" and will include "candidates whose religious or sexual orientation could provide us with voices that are underrepresented."
Abrams assured that he isn't trying to fill a quota or make a political statement at all, but wants to make sure that "the pool of talent we choose from is as rich and representative as possible." These "more inclusive voices," he believes, are the key to "better stories" emerging from Hollywood.
It's a moral step forward, he added.
Abrams gained much respect from Star Wars fans for reverting the franchise back to its original glory, before what many claimed was the downfall of George Lucas's brain child: the prequels. But his two billion-dollar reboot also pleased other fans who were happy to see darker-skinned main characters and a powerful female lead.
And as Abrams has indicated in other recent statements, his intentions for the Star Wars universe is to expand it even further to include openly gay characters, as well:
Of course! When I talk about inclusivity it’s not excluding gay characters. It’s about inclusivity. So, of course.
I would love it. To me, the fun of Star Wars is the glory of possibility. So it seems insanely narrow-minded and counterintuitive to say that there wouldn’t be a homosexual character in that world.
The Daily Beast believes Abrams already set the stage for this possibility in The Force Awakens, speculating that perhaps the friendly relationship between main characters Finn and Poe Dameron will turn romantic in future installments.
But whatever comes of this new Star Wars expanded universe, Abrams is ready to leave the old galaxy far, far behind:
I think we all have a hell of a lot to do, and I think it is insane to me that we still have to have a conversation about inclusivity. It’s shameful.