In six months, the New Republic will cease to exist.
Little do they know the First Order plans to blast them with a superweapon that can shatter entire solar systems.
But General Leia Organa knows something is afoot. She has assembled a group of fighters, the Resistance, to combat the First Order. To learn more of their growing threat, Poe Dameron, ace X-wing fighter, sends an eager young pilot to infiltrate a refueling platform, the Colossus, on the water world of Castilon. His name: Kazuda “Kaz” Xiono. He’s clumsy, unsure of himself, naïve, but he’s willing to prove he’s got “the right stuff” to be an ace pilot working for the Resistance. The questions are, will Kaz expose the First Order operative on Colossus and thwart the Starkiller superweapon? Will he gain the respect of his father, a Republican leader who frowns upon Kaz’s activities? Can he even survive the tumultuous environment on Colossus against hostile aliens, piloting a flying deathtrap called the Fireball?
Such are the challenges in Disney’s Star Wars Resistance, premiering Sunday, October 7th, in a one-hour special airing on The Disney Channel and other outlets.
At a press junket on September 26, the show’s executive producers and several cast members extolled the virtues of the latest Star Wars animated TV series.
Said executive producer Athena Portillo, “It was definitely [show creator] Dave Filoni’s goal—and our goal as well—to make sure there was female representation in the show as well as diversity. It’s so great to see someone that looks like yourself in the show. Like, for example, Torra [Doza], and Myrna Velasco [Elana of Alador] is the one voicing for her. So that made me very happy.”
Executive producer and supervising director Justin Ridge concurs: “Different people from different backgrounds can watch the show and have somebody they can root for. Hopefully, for everyone. It’s important for kids to have somebody that’s ‘Oh, yeah, that’s like me’.
Christopher Sean, who voices our hero Kaz, finds his role to be “surreal, because being an Asian-American myself—my mother’s Japanese, my dad’s American—it’s like you don’t really think that you’re gonna be the lead playing an Asian-American in the Star Wars franchise. That’s really cool. That just means people, diversity, inclusion.
“That means what I didn’t have as a kid, we’re providing to the youth now: role models. People that can say, ‘I’m familiar with this. I look like that character.’ It’s so much. I mean, it’s life-changing. It’s a sad story to say, but growing up, my role models were Mel Gibson and Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jean Claude Van Damme.
“But I was never attractive because I didn’t like white with colored eyes, you know? I was Asian-American. I was different, unique. ‘Exotic,’ was a typical word I got. But does that mean you’re attractive? Who knows? No one understands, because there’s no representation. And now, with that, kids can say, ‘Oh, my goodness. I look like him. I’m allowed to be me. I don’t have to try and be something else.’ So, inclusion’s huge, and the way Disney is doing it is wonderful.”
Brandon Auman, executive producer and head writer, says, “Kaz is a really really good-hearted person. I think he always wants to do the right thing, even if he does screw up. Like his goals are always altruistic and positive. I think that’s really important for kids nowadays, especially sometimes with the climate and what’s going on in the world. It’s good to have an escape through Kaz, but also to inspire and do the right thing. Ultimately, Resistance is about the rise of tyranny, right? It’s about fighting fascism. That’s what Star Wars has always been, so we’re sort of following along that line. So I think that Kaz is a really positive role model for any kid, in any situation.”
Justin Ridge adds, “We also have the theme of family throughout the series. Even if Kaz has a conflict with his father, he has adapt to this new family on the Colossus and the dynamics of being a fish out of water—how does he adapt?”
Among the people Kaz meets are Jarek Yeager (Scott Lawrence), long-time friend of Poe Dameron and owner of a repair shop on Colossus; Tam Ryvora (Suzie McGrath), a mechanic with dreams of being a pilot; and Torra Doza (Myrna Velasco), hot pilot and daughter of the station’s manager, Captain Doza.
Portillo emphasizes, “We see that father-daughter-type relationship and then you see it with Torra and Captain Doza, and Captain Doza is very over-protective of his daughter. But she wants to have friends, so she finds a really good friend in Kaz. That’s something that we see throughout the series.”
Disney has commissioned 22 episodes for Season One. Athena Portillo reveals there is an overlap with the events in The Force Awakens. How much of an overlap? She doesn’t say, but Justin Ridge allows the possibility the show could continue beyond The Last Jedi. “We do have lots of stories we want to tell with these characters,” he says. “If audiences really like the show, we’ll continue to make the show.”
“In regards to the actors,” Ridge says, “you’re getting Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron) and Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma) to come in, which is phenomenal, and that opportunity to work with them was so cool, ‘cause I think it adds to the authenticity of the characters.”
“It makes sense to bring them in that time frame,” Portillo says. “If we’re bringing them into the story six months prior to The Force Awakens and we get to see the relationship between Poe and General Leia and see how the Resistance is forming and how the First Order is forming. It makes sense that we bring those characters in with that time frame.”
Auman adds, “It’s good to make a connection, obviously, we need some characters from the movies to make the connection so that the kids get, “Oh, that’s BB-8. I understand. He’s from The Force Awakens. He’s from The Last Jedi.” If there are no characters from the current movies, then it’s hard to place the timeline, so that’s super-helpful as well, like bringing in some of the Legacy characters like Leia. It’s extremely helpful for a visual storytelling standpoint, but it’s also fun having these new characters that we create interact with the movie characters. And seeing aliens from every aspect of the movies, if it’s like the prequels or like Phantom Menace to the original trilogy to the Solo movie, it’s just great to bring those aspects in and just have fun and play with them.”
In discussing the show’s target audience, Portillo says, “The age range is supposed to be six to twelve but I like to say it’s five to 70. Whoever is going to watch it, because, we were all really young when we first watched Star Wars, and we watched it with our families, so I feel it’s for everybody.
“You know, George Lucas created the original trilogy in mind for kids,” Auman remarks. “He wasn’t thinking, ‘I’m making New Hope for five-year-olds.’ He wasn’t thinking that at all. He was thinking, ‘This is for kids; this is a family experience.’ If you think about the original trilogy, it’s not like a lot of heroes are dying or getting their arms cut off or whatever. The only hero in the entire trilogy that died was in the first one, Obi-Wan. Everybody survives. It’s not this dark brooding thing that fans [think it is]—only because they’ve gotten older. Sometimes fans forget that it should also be an experience for children, the first time.”
“Right,” Justin Ridge says. “With that said, we also have to have stakes. We also have to have the obstacles and challenges in the bad guys. It’s that balance of, how far do you go?
Brandon Auman adds, “Who knows? Definitely season one gets darker as it progresses, and characters do die. There are definitely stakes, like Justin is saying. It’s Star Wars and it’s Star Wars canon.”
Given the record of canon, previous Star Wars leads have succumbed to the Dark Side of the Force or met with untimely ends: Qui-Gon Jinn, Annakin Skywalker, Mace Windu, Ben Kenobi, Ahsoka Tano, Kanan Jarrus, Ezra Bridger, Han Solo, and Luke Skywalker. So things don’t look promising for our new hero, Kaz Xiono. Eventually he, too, may be swept under the “out with the old, in with the new” broomstick.
Says Justin Ridge: “I don’t see us going as dark as Clone Wars, but who knows? You have to watch the show.”
Star Wars Resistance premieres Sunday, October 7 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EDT/PDT), on Disney Channel, DisneyNOW and Disney Channel VOD, with subsequent airings on Disney XD.
from Animation Scoop http://www.animationscoop.com/preview-star-wars-resistance-diversity-in-a-galaxy-far-far-away/