Disney’s new Obi-Wan Kenobi series may have gotten off to a relatively slow start, but like Star Wars live action projects that have come before, it will likely take a few episodes to get going.
One of the stars of the show is actress Moses Ingram, who plays the Third Sister, Reva Sevander.
It’s the first time we’ve seen Ingram live-action form in the Star Wars Universe (or Galaxy), and - having been sent by Darth Vader to hunt Ewan McGregor’s Kenobi - she is likely to play an integral role as the series progresses.
But her casting has bewilderingly drawn the ire of an ignorant section of fans.
Perhaps it’s no so bewildering, given the alarming regularity with which POC actors are met with abuse and harassment online (following their casting in the sequel trilogy, Star Wars actors Kelly Marie Tran and John Boyega also faced a backlash from fans) but Ingram has received "hundreds" of racist tweets.
So just why are some fans ruining it for everyone else?
Here is everything you need to know.
Who is Moses Ingram?
Moses Ingram is an American actress who starred as Jolene in the Netflix miniseries The Queen’s Gambit, for which she received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination.
Her mother worked in daycare and her stepfather worked in city operations while she grew up in a blended family of six children in West Baltimore.
Seeing her acting potential, her mother and a school teacher enrolled her in an after-school theatrical programme when she was 10 years old.
Ingram later enrolled in Baltimore City Community College; despite the lack of a drama programme at the school, her advisor urged her to keep acting and apply for local plays.
She won a regional competition sponsored by the National Society of Arts and Letters in 2015 and placed fourth in the national competition.
The competition’s winner urged her to apply for the Yale School of Drama, to which she was accepted with a scholarship.
Ingram auditioned for The Queen’s Gambit in June 2019, barely a month after starting at Yale. She was cast as Jolene after a three-minute audition in New York City.
In August of that year, she relocated to Los Angeles and began filming.
Ingram has since been cast in Michael Bay’s Ambulance, and played Lady Macduff in Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth. Variety named her one of 10 actors to watch in 2021, citing her Emmy nomination and these roles.
What has she said?
Ingram shared a few examples of racist hatred she has received since the show began on Instagram on Tuesday 31 May.
“There’s nothing anybody can do about this,” Ingram said. “There’s nothing anybody can do to stop this hate. I question my purpose in even being here in front of you saying that this is happening. I don’t really know.”
“The thing that bothers me is this feeling inside of myself, that no one has told me, but this feeling that I have to shut up and take it, that I have to grin and bear it.
“And I’m not built like that. So, I wanted to come on and say thank you to the people who show up for me in the comments and the places that I’m not going to put myself in. And to the rest of y’all, y’all weird.”
What have Disney said?
A video response from McGregor was released on the official Star Wars Twitter account on Tuesday night, in which he vehemently condemned the harassment.
“It seems that some of the fan base has decided to attack Moses Ingram online and send her the most horrendous, racist [direct messages]. I heard some of them this morning, and it just broke my heart,” McGregor said.
“Moses is a brilliant actor. She is a brilliant woman. And she is absolutely amazing in this series. She brings so much to the series, she brings so much to the franchise. And it just sickened my stomach that this had been happening.”
“I just want to say, as the lead actor in the series, as the executive producer on the series, that we stand with Moses. We love Moses. And if you’re sending her bullying messages, you’re no Star Wars fan in my mind. There’s no place for racism in this world. And I totally stand with Moses.”
Ingram’s character is one of a group of ex-Jedis, turned to the Dark Side and tasked with tracking down those who still practise the ways of the Force, twisted by the propaganda machine of the fledgling Empire.
Scenes from the series’ first episode have drawn comparisons to a scene in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, where Christoph Waltz’ “Jew Hunter” character Hans Landa delivers an unsettling speech as he interrogates a family accused of harbouring refugees.
Yes, Obi-Wan Kenobi’s inquisitors an are overt and direct analogy for the SS soldiers of the Nazi regime.
Seeing the irony yet?
Fans complaining about the colour of Ingram’s skin are directly towing the line of the evil Empire the series they love has presented as a hate-fuelled, genocidal machine for 40+ years.
Of course, nothing excuses this kind of hate at any time, but given the specific context of the ignorance on display here, it’s all the more nonsensical.
“There are more than 20m sentient species in the Star Wars galaxy, don’t choose to be a racist,” a message shared on the Star Wars account read.
“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.”