As a kid, I couldn’t get enough of Star Wars.
I loved the storyline. I loved the characters. I loved the action figures. I desperately loved the blue Lightsaber my brother was given for his birthday, sneaking into his room whenever he left the house to practice my Sith-fighting moves.
But most of all, I loved that Star Wars was different. It wasn’t like the other movies the girls my age watched, and that suited me just fine.
I wasn’t interested in movies about boys or sleepovers. I knew, even at a young age, that there was more to me than being pretty, or dancing like a ballerina, or finding the perfect dress for prom. (I didn’t know what “prom” was, but boy did it feature in a lot of ’90s tween movies).
I didn’t want to be Barbie. I wanted to be Luke Skywalker.
I didn’t want a Dream House. I wanted a Lightsaber. (Maybe a pink one, though.)
As I grew older (and movies for young girls got better), I discovered strong female characters to surpass my old friend Luke. I found Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Xena the Warrior Princess, CIA Agent Sydney Bristow, and of course the incredible Veronica Mars. All of a sudden, it felt like being powerful, intelligent and capable wasn’t something “just for boys”. All of a sudden, Luke Skywalker became more of an old friend than a role model.
That doesn’t mean that I haven’t always had a soft spot for Star Wars. I’ve watched developments in the franchise with interest. But until this year, I’d lost the borderline obsession of my 10-year-old self.
And then, I heard about Rogue One: A Star Wars story.
When I first saw the trailer for the upcoming movie based in the Star Wars universe, it was all I could do to stop myself for shouting out loud for joy.
For the second time in a row, Star Wars has an awesome female lead. She is the Star Wars hero I’ve been waiting for. Not a princess (no offence to my good friend Leia). Not a helpless damsel in distress. Not a big player, thrown in for good measure.
An actual living, breathing female lead.
"For the second time in a row, Star Wars has an awesome female lead." Image: Lucasfilm Ltd.
The upcoming Rogue One film has what I eventually realised was missing from the original six Star Wars movies but loved about The Force Awakens. It has a female character – and okay, I’ll say it – a female role model that I cannot get enough of.
Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is everything I wanted to be as a kid and more. Released from prison and sent on a mission to steal the plans for the Death Star from the Galactic Empire, Jyn is forced to rely on her wits in a world full of people who underestimate her.
She doesn’t whinge. She doesn’t complain. She just gets on with things, wry sense of humour in tact.
Oh, and she fights bad guys like a BOSS.
"Like a BOSS." Image: Lucasfilm Ltd.
Now that’s a female character I can relate to.
I always make a point of going to see movies which star strong female leads. I think supporting stories about women doing incredible things is good for the film industry and good for society. I don’t want to live in a world where young girls feel like they can’t be the heroes in their own stories.
That’s why, come December 15th, I’ll be one of the first in line to see Rogue One. I’ll be dragging along my friends and family – the ones who still love Star Wars, the ones who have fond memories of it, and the ones who have no idea what the whole thing is about.
And for the first time since I was a kid, I expect that box office queue to be full of women.
Because for the first time since I was a kid, I feel like I’ve found a Star Wars hero we can really get behind.
Here's a sneak peak 'cause we know you're dying to see it:
Why do you love Star Wars?
From Lucasfilm comes the first of the Star Wars standalone films, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” an all-new epic adventure. In a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves. In cinemas December 15, 2016.