Kelly Marie Tran is the newest cast member of Star Wars Episode VIII!

Entertainment Weekly just reported new Star Wars casting news now that Episode VIII has begun production, and one of the new names caught our attention. Kelly Marie Tran, a San Diego native and UCLA alum who has trained in improv with iO West, Second City, and the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, was among the newly announced cast included with the production anouncement. You might have seen some of her past work with College Humor, Comedy Bang! Bang!, and Funny or Die (check out this EW article for a more in depth look at her body of work). The fact that her announcement came alongside Benecio Del Toro and Laura Dern gives us hope that she’ll have a prominent role in the new movie.

For the longest time, the Asian community didn’t have much in terms of representation from the Star Wars franchise. Sure we had the samurai aesthetics of Darth Vader’s armor, and LT. Telsji, the ill-fated Y-Wing pilot who got in 2 lines before being blown away during the Battle of Endor, for whom NPR did a great piece on, but it always felt like we were grasping at straws when it came to feeling represented. The prequels didn’t help much when it gave us a bunch of bad guy aliens with terrible Asian accents, that one Jedi with the weird forehead and Fu Manchu beard, and turning lightsaber combat into space wushu.

All that was why it was refreshing to see a whole bunch of Asians in the cast of Episode VII, especially Ken Leung as Admiral Statura and Jessica Henwick as X-Wing pilot Jess Pava (this generation’s Wedge Antilles), two characters who weren’t caricatures, had vital roles, and didn’t die after 2 lines.

While we don’t have any details about whether Tran will be playing an actual person, droid, or CG alien a la Lupita Nyong’o, episode VIII just became way more interesting than it already was (which was already pretty dang interesting). We’ll definitely be following this story as it develops over the next two years until the movie’s 2017 release.

Are you excited about the casting news? What kind of character do you think she’ll play? Let us know in the comments!


Cover image via College Humor

Chin and Shaw Release “Star Wars” Parody with a Disney Twist

For the Star Wars purists out there who are worried about the franchise’s upcoming films becoming “disneyfied”, this fan-made Star Wars musical parody may be the manifestation of your worst nightmares.   For the rest of us, it’s comedy gold.

Originally released on YouTube on June 17th, Star Wars: The Musical retells the story of the first release of the epic saga A New Hope but in the form of a Disney musical.  Shot entirely on green screen with multi-plane, hand-painted backdrops in Disney’s traditional animation fashion, the musical parodies classic Disney songs from films including Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and Peter Pan.

The spoof is a pop-culture overload with many Disney princess cameos (Mulan and Snow White played by Jane Lui and Sarah Ho respectively), Mickey Mouse ears, and inside Star Wars jokes; and it cheekily ends with the entire cast singing  “please buy more toys and DVDs, so Disney can make more movies for you and me.”

Star Wars: The Musical is a collaboration between director Jeffrey Gee Chin (Lil Tokyo Reporter) and executive producer/composer George Shaw (Agents of Secret Stuff, Hang Loose) who is a longtime supporter of Kollaboration and a former Kollaboration LA judge.  According to the film’s website, Star Wars: The Musical was a year and a half long project for Chin and Shaw with the purpose of creating “the ultimate love letter to their favorite fandoms.”

Be sure to watch “Star Wars: The Musical” and also check out the film’s official website for behind-the-scenes and updates on the upcoming musical episodes Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.  You can also check out and download the music from the film as well.

And may the Force be with you.