Lucasfilm has officially hired their first female director. Victoria Mahoney has signed on as the second unit director of the upcoming Star Wars Episode IX, the final installment of the current trilogy.
The big news was announced by acclaimed director Ava DuVernay on Twitter, who congratulated her friend Mahoney.
Mahoney followed up the announcement with a thank you to both DuVernay, who reportedly put her up for the job, and Episode IX director, JJ Abrams, who did the actual hiring.
While Mahoney’s name won’t be appearing before the credits, the move marks a big step forward for Lucasfilm, who, up until this point, had resisted hiring women behind the camera. Speaking to reporters in 2016, Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy said that they would be willing to consider a female director for the franchise, provided one had reached the level of blockbuster director in advance of that hiring.
Since those statements, the studio has announced a number of future Star Wars installments, including the upcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story, a new trilogy from The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson, another trilogy from Game of Thrones bosses D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, and a live-action TV series from Iron Man and The Jungle Book director, Jon Favreau.
None of those directors are women, which is what makes the hiring of Mahoney, a woman of color, such a potential game changer.
Mahoney’s previous directing credits include extensive work in television, including the pilot of Freeform's Misfits, as well as an episode of DuVernay’s series Queen Sugar.
Whether this move points to the possibility that Lucasfilm may hire more women behind the camera — and in decision-making positions — remains to be seen, but it is, at the very least, a tiny step forward.