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First black female Star Wars lead says wearing natural hair in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ has empowered young fans


ABC/Randy HolmesStar Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is officially in theaters today, and one of its breakout stars explained to Good Morning America what it was like to be not only a newcomer, but the first black female lead in the Star Wars saga.

“Its been a whirlwind — I’ve learned so much,” said Naomi Ackie, who stars as Jannah — the horseback-riding warrior who carries and shoots a bow and arrow throughout the film.   “I’m just so excited for everyone to finally see it I’ve been keeping the secret for so long.”

The actress, speaking live from London, said “it means a lot” to be the first prominent black woman in a leading role for the legendary saga.

“The most meaningful thing is when parents send me messages about like wearing natural hair in a film like this and how their daughters or even sons feel empowered by seeing that,” Ackie said. “It’s about kids as much as the fans and it feels good to help people feel good.”

Ackie also said she’s been long suited for her role.  “I made a bow and arrow and used to shoot it around my house — when I was like 6 — it paid off,” she said.

Ackie said she’s traveled the world thanks to the final Star Wars film, which included a trip alongside co-star Kelly Marie Tran to NASA headquarters in Houston, Texas.

“I’m an astronaut now,” the actress joked. “We were trained, we learned a lot about — the evolution of astronauts, we ate space food, tested out lunar gravity which is insane — it was just a great experience.”

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is from Lucasfilm and Disney, parent company of ABC News.

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