There are some films that you can watch a dozen times and always notice something new and there are others where you pretty much get it on the first try. Sometimes though, you watch a film, notice things subconsciously but it just doesn’t click into place until several viewings later when you sit up straight in realization. I had one of those moments a few months ago while watching Revenge of the Sith. The realization? The Royal Family of Alderaan is not white. The Royal Family of one of the most well-known and powerful planets in the galaxy does not fit the typical white human mold. It’s funny how long it took me to come to this realization that the royal house of my favorite planet was more diverse than I’d previously realized.
While not every Alderaanian that we saw in the films fell into this category, a fair number of the ones of note in the Prequel Trilogy did. The actors who played Bail and Breha are both of Hispanic and mixed descent. A Brazilian actress played Bail’s aide, Sheltay Retrac. While three might not be a huge number, it’s rather significant when we consider how few Alderaanians we saw in the films.
Of course, once this clicked into place, so did a few more things such as why Winter might have so often been mistaken for Princess Leia by visitors to the palace. Sheltay Retrac was retconned into being Winter’s mother which, to me, indicates that Winter’s coloring (excluding her hair) likely favored that of her mother instead of being quite as Nordic as artwork has portrayed her. Add together Winter’s (likely) more Organa looking coloring and natural graceful poise and it’s even easier to see why those not in the loop believed her to be the daughter of Bail and Breha before introductions were made.
(If anyone has noticed that depicting Winter with slightly darker skin like her mother would canonically make my costumes of her look more “screen accurate”… okay yeah. You caught me. It’s really just a side bonus of all this, honestly.)
This is one of the few situations where the films have built in diversity and it has yet to really be used to its fullest which is a shame. Wouldn’t it be great if there was some new Star Wars story that’s forthcoming that could easily work this into their main cast? Oh wait. There is. There’s a brand new cartoon set before Alderaan’s destruction starting this fall.
Rebels should take advantage of this built in diversity. Actually, I’ll be disappointed if they don’t. Obviously Alderaan is not a resource that Episode VII will be able to use so if Rebels won’t, who will? If we look at The Clone Wars, we can see the positive impact that its leading cast had on kids. Ahsoka Tano did so much good as a role model for young girls who watched the show. She was something that they could all strive to be like. Just imagine what say a POC member of the extended Organa family or even just a POC Alderaanian fighting with the Rebel Alliance could do for all the young children of color out there.
In all fairness, the Expanded Universe was working blind prior to Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. It’s hard to take an actor’s ethnicity into account when he or she has yet to be cast. But in a post-Prequel Trilogy world? Take advantage of it. Revel it. Retcon art by the score to really drive it home that the Royal Family (and some of its associates) of one of the most respected planets in the galaxy was not ruled by just another bunch of white humans. As we’ve said plenty of times here at Tosche Station: take advantage of your universe and don’t just default to the norm in our world.
So use it. Embrace. Take advantage of it. Include more of these darker skinned Alderaanians (royal or otherwise) in the stories. After all, they are already canon at the highest level.