Mary Chieffo, known for playing Chancellor L’Rell on Star Trek: Discovery, took to Twitter to ask her followers who should replace the exiting Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss for Star Wars.
Benioff and Weiss announced their decision to exit Star Wars citing their schedule was full up following their recently inked Netflix deal in August which is reportedly worth $250 million over the next five years.
However, there is speculation that the two were fired by Disney given Netflix is a direct competitor.
— Nerdrotic (@Nerdrotics) October 30, 2019
Chieffo asked her fans which member of a diversity checklist they’d like to see take the reins following Benioff and Weiss’ exit from Star Wars.
Chieffo gives her fans four options describing them as “super freaking smart and badass.”
The options include: “A. A woman. B. A person of color. C. A member of the LGBTQ+ community. D All of the Above.”
Which of the following would be a super freaking smart and badass choice for a replacement?
A. A woman.
B. A person of color.
C. A member of the LGBTQ+ community.
D. All of the above. https://t.co/vxyuqA8Fd3
— Mary Chieffo (@marythechief) October 29, 2019
Chieffo’s tweet was criticized by a number of people for being bigoted, racist, and sexist. Others pointed out Disney and Lucasfilm should look for the most qualified person rather than superficial traits.
As a mixed race woman this post is incredibly bigoted. Stop hiring just for gender or race. Hiring someone for their race or their gender is bigoted no effing duh!
— Rosetta Allen (@TearisSMoon) October 29, 2019
Its sexist AND racist to hire based on general and skin color. It’s not very inclusive and goes against the Star Trek values I grew up with accepting all people.
— Queen Mecha The Merciless (@RandomMnky) October 29, 2019
How about the most qualified? Crazy idea, I know. There’s great storytellers and shitty storytellers from every race, gender, and sexual orientation.
— JosiahRises (@JosiahRises) October 29, 2019
No, Mary, no. Hire people based on whether or not they are qualified. Don’t base it on race, gender, or sexuality. That’s actually racist and sexist.
— Colin Cochrane (@HopeJustice1938) October 29, 2019
One person believed Chieffo’s checklist did not go far enough. They asked, “I guess the disabled don’t matter?”
I guess the disabled don’t matter?
— Williehalfnelson (@roddyjeffrey73) October 29, 2019
Chieffo would respond to this comment with an apology.
“So sorry I’m just seeing this. Of course I should have put that as one of the categories.”
She added, “I am acutely aware of how ableist our storytelling is & agree that we need to make huge strides in disability representation in front & behind the camera. Thank you for point that out.”
So sorry I’m just seeing this. Of course I should have put that as one of the categories. I am acutely aware of how ableist our storytelling is & agree that we need to make huge strides in disability representation in front & behind the camera. Thank you for pointing that out. ❤️ https://t.co/51OryVkVq7
— Mary Chieffo (@marythechief) October 29, 2019
This isn’t the first time a crew member of the show has spoken candidly about increasing diversity. Back in 2018 Robert Duncan McNeill, best known for playing Lt. Tom Paris on Star Trek: Voyager, spoke on this very subject:
“I wanted to direct Discovery. I met with their producing director. I didn’t know the show that well, but I met with him on their last hiatus to talk about season two. I also produce now. So, I hire a lot of directors. The last few years, there’s been a seismic shift in terms of the priorities toward female and diverse directors. That reality now has meant that what used to be normal, which was a lot of white guys, to be quite honest, has changed. Some shows are mostly women directing. I think Jessica Jones, last year, had all female directors. Handmaid’s Tale. A woman may direct the next Star Trek movie.”
“Most importantly, it’s a wonderful thing that’s happening. I’m proud that on other shows I’ve produced — The Gifted, The Arrangement, Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce — I’ve brought in female directors. But, to answer your question, Discovery does a limited number of episodes and a priority there is to get female and diverse directors, so there are fewer opportunities for people like me, which is a great thing. But, yeah, if the opportunity arose to direct Discovery and I fit what they needed and it fit my schedule, I’d love to do it.”
Star Trek, since it’s inception by creator Gene Roddenberry, has always been forward-looking in the way it would cast its actors. Most fans know that during the TOS era the creator purposefully put in a black communications officer, Uhura, played by Nichole Nichols and a Russian navigator Pavel Chekov played by Walter Koenig.
However, this one-dimensional diversity drive we’re seeing in Hollywood feels like what South Park has consistently mocked with their Token Black character than what Gene did in the past with Star Trek.
I want to hear from you. What do you think of what Mary Chieffo has to say on the subject? Let me know your thoughts and tag me on Twitter about the article!