Sometimes, the impact of a character can take you completely by surprise. I’d known for weeks and weeks before the premiere of Star Wars Rebels that I was excited for the show to start. It featured a family-like crew filled with characters who seemed right up my alley. What I didn’t realize until I sat down on my couch to watch Spark of Rebellion for the first time last year is what seeing Sabine Wren on the screen was going to mean to me. Finally, after twenty-four years, there was a main character in a Star Wars film or television show that looked like me and the full impact of this hit me like a ton of bricks as she took her bucket off for the first time.
It’s not like I didn’t know that Sabine was going to be there. I was amongst those who loved Sabine’s character design from when they initially debuted it, wondered if she was human or alien because we’ve been burned before, and then rejoiced when they confirmed that she was a human character of color. There had been plenty of time for all of this information to sink in but somehow watching the episode made it seem so much more real to me. Sabine Wren was the sort of character I’d been waiting to see my entire life. All of this brought forth a giant mess of emotions that are difficult to fully describe to someone who has always been able to see a hero who looks like them in Star Wars before.
I wish that I’d been born later. I wish that I could’ve had the opportunity to watch Star Wars Rebels as a kid and see a teenage girl who looked like me up there on the screen. I wish that I could’ve had the chance at a younger age to watch an Asian woman be an integral part of our team of heroes with no one commenting on her race or gender as she blows things up to stop the enemy… artistically. I wish I’d been able to see a capable lady in the Star Wars universe who looked like me and who did more for the plot than serve as space scenery. I wish I’d had that extra positive reinforcement that Sabine will give all these young girls out there.
At the same time though, I’m happy. Tiny explosion obsessed Bria may not have had Sabine to look up to but there are hundreds, if not thousands, of young girls of color out there who can now look at the television screen each week and smile as they watch her kick butt across the galaxy. Some of them may be conscious of how important she is and some may not, but the important part is that she is there for them. My heart grows two sizes when every time I see a young girl dressed as Sabine at a convention and doubly so every time it’s an Asian girl.
So thank you, Rebels. Thank you to everyone involved with creating this show and creating a character like Sabine and then casting an actress of color to voice her. Thank you Rebels for giving us an Asian human female hero who not only can hold her own but has more to her character than being action girl. Thank you for finally bringing a character like this to the forefront for hundreds and hundreds of young girls to look up to.
Sabine Wren’s not just the sort of character that we Star Wars fans deserve — she’s the sort of character that we need.