It’s about damn time!
It’s been recently announced that John Boyega and Leticia Wright—two major rising stars in the film industry—have landed starring roles in an adaptation of Katie Khan’s novel “Hold Back The Stars”. It goes without saying that this is a majorly exciting development: Khan’s novel follows the story of two (literal) star crossed lovers recounting memories of their romance on a Utopian Earth, while trapped in a barren void of space with only 90 minutes of oxygen left.
Yep, you heard that right. Boyega and Wright won’t just be starring in a run-of-the-mill romance…they’ll be in a science-fiction love story.
Let’s just repeat that: Science. Fiction. Love. Story.
With leading characters that are black!
I’m certain I speak for everyone when I say that the excitement that comes from this announcement goes beyond the prospect of seeing two of nerd culture’s favorite actors vibing it up on screen. John Boyega and Leticia Wright being cast as leading characters of a sci-fi love story speaks volumes about the long due representation of minorities finally breaking ground in the genre.
Since its inception, science fiction has touched the hearts of audiences across all genders, races, and creeds. But it was only until recently that there’s been a blatant push to showcase more diverse characters and stories within the genre. Science-fiction films/novels have historically featured characters that were white, cis, and—more often than not—male.
People of color have previously rarely been afforded the privilege of having sci-fi/fantasy stories that put them in major roles; either they were regulated to “alien” characters ( a la Zoe Saldana’s Gamora, Lupita Nyong’o’s Maz Kanata, or Rihanna’s Bubbles) or were completely white-washed or overlooked in lieu of the “default white gaze” that’s prevalent in many science-fiction and fantasy stories.
But Octavia Butler,Daniel José Older, Samuel Delaney, Ted Chiang, and many more have become pioneers of a genre that often balks at their entire existence, writing stories and creating narratives that challenge stereotypes and assumptions of what black, brown, or marginalized stories look like.
Acting wise, Leticia Wright, John Boyega, Daniel Kaluuya, and Kelly-Marie Tran—to name a few— have paved the way for roles that go beyond the traditional box of type-casting and discrimination. By actively going out for roles in genres that have been previously homogeneous, they’ve been able to change the narrative of what certain stories look like.
And between Hollywood blockbusters to iconic literature, it’s becoming abundantly clear that these stories—the ones showcasing marginalized peoples, and celebrating unspoken voices—are what film, literature, (and to a larger degree, society) needs. These stories inspire and show audiences that no matter what you look like or where you come from, you can be in a story that’s truly magical and out of this world.