Chilean-born English actress Talisa Garcia is making history as the first openly trans woman to star in a Lucasfilm production. Garcia (Baptiste, The Girlfriend Experience) has been cast in the upcoming Disney+ series and reboot Willow, where a princess sets off on a mission to search for her twin brother.
The spinoff of the 1988 Ron Howard-George Lucas dark fantasy drama follows strong international and home video performances by the original movie. The show is set years after the original plot, with a mix of all-new characters and the return of its namesake, Willow Ufgood, played by Warwick Davis. Garcia will star as a queen and mother to Tony Revolori‘s character, who will be a key part of the quest.
Garcia told The Independent in a 2019 interview that she was hoping to one day have a role as a parent on-screen, and that “when you cast a transgender woman who happens to be a mother, people will start looking at it for what it is: normal.”
Willow is currently in post-production and no news on its air date has been released since the projection of 2022 was made during the 2020 Disney Investor Day event. It’ll be Lucasfilm‘s first non-Star Wars project since 2015.
Deadline reported Thursday that this is “the first known occasion an openly trans actor has been cast in a production from Disney-owned Lucasfilm,” as Raya and the Last Dragon actress Patti Harrison made her own history in 2021 by becoming the first known trans actor cast in a Disney animated film.
The announcement of Garcia’s casting comes shortly after backlash erupted against Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s response to Florida’s newly passed “Don’t Say Gay” bill, legislation that bans discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in primary school classrooms.
Chapek apologized for his and the company’s actions in a statement to employees: “It is clear that this is not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights,” the statement read. “You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down. I am sorry.”
While strides have been made in Disney’s casting of the LGBTQ+ community on screen, with Zach Barack in Marvel’s Spider-Man: Far From Home and iris menas in the West Side Story reboot, much remains to be seen in the wake of anti-LGTBQ+ legislation and increasing pressure from forces outside and within the media giant.