I’m not saying Star Wars’ John Boyega is the sweetest human being who ever walked the Earth…
…but he did just spend Friday delivering toys to Star Wars-obsessed kids in a London children’s hospital dressed as Finn.
Thankfully, an image of the single most touching moment from Boyega’s visit made its way to his Instagram for us all to witness.
Courtesy of the man himself and a little girl named Layla, who put on her Rey costume for the event:
“Where’s Rey?” Layla reportedly asked Boyega. “I don’t know, I got beat by Kylo [Ren] and I can’t remember anything,” Boyega replied.
“OK, I’ll be your Rey today,” the girl said.
“OK, lead the way!” Boyega told her.
After the release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” a lot of people were wondering “Where’s Rey?”
Even though Rey is, arguably, the film’s primary hero, many fans reported having difficulty finding Rey action figures and other merchandise in stores the weeks after the movie opened — in part because Lucasfilm underestimated her popularity and didn’t anticipate how quickly Rey toys would fly off the shelves. Hasbro, in particular, came under fire for excluding the character from their Star Wars Monopoly game.
It took lots of people (including director J.J. Abrams) speaking out to get the toy companies to reverse course. Hasbro, ultimately, did include the character in a subsequent Monopoly release, though the company maintains that was its plan all along.
But the incident sent an unfortunate message to Star Wars fans: Women don’t matter.
There’s evidence that films featuring prominent female heroes can have a direct, positive impact on women’s lives.
A 2016 survey of women in nine countries conducted by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and the J. Walter Thompson Company found that 61% of those contacted said that “female role models in film and TV have been influential in their lives,” and 58% claimed that having those role models inspired them to be “more ambitious or assertive.“
Acknowledging that women can run the show not only on screen but also on toy shelves and in conversations is critical to counteracting the message that heroism is a “no girls allowed” club.
That’s why Boyega (as Finn) deserves to be applauded for making sure at least one little girl knows exactly where Rey is: in the lead.