Daisy Ridley Also Thought That ‘The Force Awakens’ Toy Controversy Was Wack
Back when The Force Awakens was just about to come out, the inevitable Star Wars merch hit toy shelves all over the country. But while Kylo Ren and ex-Storm Trooper Finn figures were out in full force, Daisy Ridley’s character Rey, the main character of the movie, was absent. Disney blamed concerns that a “girl toy” wouldn’t sell as well with boy audiences, but after backlash, prompted by the hashtag #WheresRey, the company decided to include her in their second wave of merchandising. And, lo and behold, Rey toys sold even better than any other (with the exception, maybe, of BB-8). This controversy didn’t escape Ridley’s attention, and she’s going to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
When Collider spoke to Ridley about the upcoming The Eagle Huntress, which she narrates, she revealed that she’d actually been meeting with people about the toys for the next Star Wars movie.
Interestingly, I had a meeting yesterday about merchandise and what’s happening going forward, so I had a lot of questions that were answered and some, you know, issues.
She can say that again. She also said that she thought Rey’s exclusion was weird, and her co-stars were even more upset about it than she was.
I think when it really became a big thing is when J.J. [Abrams] talked about Monopoly. There had been conversations long before that that I was having with people because I didn’t really understand what was going on. And John Boyega in fact told me that he had written to someone and I was like, ‘huh’ because he is more of a toy person than I am. Moving forward I think what they’re planning—I’ve been told what the plan is for next year and it’s really cool, really exciting.
She explained that this revised attitude about the toys isn’t about backlash, it’s about giving a character the attention they deserve.
My whole thing is it’s not anything about the backlash, it’s if a character is important in the story, then that should be dealt with in every platform whether it’s merchandise, whether that’s posters, anything, it needs to be dealt with in the correct way regardless of gender, regardless of color. So to be honest, how the public reacted to it was amazing, because it was a testament to the character and to what J.J. did with the casting. And yeah, it’s going to be super cool going forward.
As for how well the Rey toys sold, Ridley is ecstatic that young girls have an action hero role model to look up to.
I think it’s a great moment of what’s happening in the world with girls and how different people are playing and how they’re interacting with the things they see in popular culture. So yeah, it’s cool.
I mean, I’ve never really been motivated by money, so that for me I’m not really interested in, though it’s great, oh my God, fantastic. But for me it’s more about parents coming up to me and saying, ‘My little girl…’ –In fact, who was I talking to? Someone at Pixar actually, really nice guy, he said he was in the cinema with his daughter and something happened and his daughter went, ‘Wow’ And when he told me honestly I almost cried, because for me that is far more important, and when little girls kind of dressed up like Rey, that’s…Yeah.
The Star Wars universe has historically been a particularly great place for attractive brown-haired girls, and it’s especially great that now, with the upcoming release of Rogue One, two huge Star Wars movies will have female protagonists. Thankfully, it looks like toy companies are finally catching up with the times.