Day 32 – Nala Se
Nala Se was Chief Medical Scientist for her homeworld Kamino. She appeared in several episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. During the Clone Wars, Nala Se worked to create the army of clone troopers for the Republic and was one of the only beings to know about Protocol 66.
Nala Se worked with Darth Tyranus to keep Protocol 66 a secret as she believed it was an appropriate safeguard against rogue Jedi.
Here’s a clip involving Nala Se from the Season 6 episode “Conspiracy” where a chip malfunction caused a clone to prematurely enact Protocol 66.
Day 33 – Arihnda Pryce
Arihnda Pryce is the Governor of the Lothal sector for the Galactic Empire in Star Wars Rebels. She is also quite chummy with Grand Admiral Thrawn.
Pryce debuted in Jason Fry’s book Servants of the Empire: Edge of the Galaxy and she was also heavily featured in the Timothy Zahn novel Thrawn. Pryce was mentioned in several episodes in Seasons 1 and 2 of Star Wars Rebels, but she didn’t make an appearance until the premiere episode of Season 3. Actress Mary Elizabeth McGlynn voiced Pryce in multiple episodes in Seasons 3 and 4 of the series.
You can also find Pryce in the mobile game Star Wars: Force Arena.
If you’re looking for an Arihnda Pryce deep dive I strongly suggest you check out this article from Mynock Manor all about her. It’s a great read.
Day 34 – Lumiya
Lumiya (originally named Shira Elan Colla Brie – yep, you heard that right) was a Legends character from Star Wars comics and novels also known as the Dark Lady of the Sith. If she doesn’t sound cool enough for you yet I should mention one of the weapons she used was a lightwhip.
Lumiya debuted (as Brie) in Star Wars: Coffin in the Clouds comic and her adventures took place during and after the original trilogy Star Wars films. Star Wars 88: Figurehead was the first issue where Brie was referred to as Lumiya. Darth Vader took a serious interest in her career and throughout her long and complicated life she also had interactions with Luke Skywalker and other members of the Rebel Alliance.
Lumiya was featured in the short story Lumiya: Dark Star of the Empire (which can be found in Star Wars Galaxy #3 magazine) and played a large role in several Legacy of the Force novels.
Here’s a pretty cool action figure of her sold as a two-pack with Luke Skywalker.
Day 35 – Lassa Rhayme
Lassa Rhayme was a Pantorian pirate introduced in the Dark Disciple prequel short story “Kindred Spirits” by Christie Golden. Rhayme was the leader of the Blood Bone Order pirate gang and captained the starship Opportunity.
In “Kindred Spirits” (which like Dark Disciple took place during the Clone Wars) Rhayme crossed paths with Asajj Ventress. If you’re interested in reading “Kindred Spirits” you can find it in Star Wars Insider 159 and in the paperback edition of Dark Disciple.
Rhayme was only mentioned in Dark Disciple, but she re-appeared in Golden’s novel Battlefront II: Inferno Squad, which takes place after the destruction of the first Death Star. So she’s clearly good at being the leader of a pirate gang.
Lassa Rhayme could very well pop up in future Star Wars books or comics written by Golden or other Star Wars authors.
Day 36 – Delian Mors
Delian Mors was the Imperial Moff of the planet Ryloth. Her only appearance so far in Star Wars productions has been in Paul S. Kemp’s novel Lords of the Sith which focused on Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine’s activities between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope.
Delian Mors was the first LGBT character introduced in Star Wars canon. Her character is also one of the few female Star Wars characters I can think of that are described as being heavy (there’s a lot of skinny women in Star Wars).
Day 37 – Sly Moore
Sly Moore was an aide to Supreme Chancellor Sheev Palpatine. She first appeared in Attack of the Clones and can also be found in Revenge of the Sith.
Moore was from the planet Umbara and was a constant (and silent) presence beside Palpatine. Actress Sandi Finlay portrayed Moore in both films.
Sly Moore appeared in the canon novel Catalyst and several Legends comics and books including Republic 64: Bloodlines (above right).
Here she is from Attack of the Clones #1 (below).
Day 38 – Sarah Michelle Gellar
Sarah Michelle Gellar is an actress who voiced the inquisitor Seventh Sister in several episodes of Star Wars Rebels. Her most famous non-Star Wars role is Buffy Summers from the classic TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Gellar has won several awards in her career including a Daytime Emmy Award for All My Children and several Teen Choice Awards for her roles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the film Scooby-Doo (where she played Daphne). Gellar is married to Freddie Prinze Jr. who voices Kanan in Star Wars Rebels.
Here is Gellar talking about Seventh Sister at New York Comic-Con. She also talks about other strong female characters in Star Wars in this clip.
Day 39 – Neeyutnee
Neeyutnee was the Queen of Naboo during most of the Clone Wars. She appeared in four episodes of The Clone Wars TV show and was voiced by actress Jameelah McMillan.
Neeyutnee was the successor to Queen Jamillia, who appeared in Attack of the Clones, and was followed by Queen Apailana, who was seen in the funeral procession sequence in Revenge of the Sith.
She was also mentioned in Shattered Empire #3 as you can see below. We’ll be seeing more of Shattered Empire later on this year – I highly recommend it!
You can also find a LEGO version of Neeyutnee in LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars.
Day 40 – Toryn Farr
Toryn Farr was a communication officer for the Rebel Alliance in The Empire Strikes Back. You might remember her as the woman who says “Stand by ion control. Fire.” in Hoth.
It turns out Farr (played by actress Brigitte Kahn) is the only woman other than Leia to have a line of dialogue in The Empire Strikes Back. You can hear her line at about 28 seconds into this compilation of all the non-Leia female lines of dialogue from the original trilogy.
Toryn Farr appeared in a variety of comic versions of The Empire Strikes Back including Star Wars 40: The Empire Strikes Back: Battleground Hoth which is pictured on the left at the top of this post. You can read more about that comic issue in this article over at The Real Gentlemen of Leisure (which is where I got the photo above).
There’s also a good variety of Toryn Farr collectible cards and cards that were used in games such as Star Wars: Armada. Farr also got her own LEGO minifigure.
For toy collectors, there’s also a Toryn Farr Black Series figure.
Day 41 – Jody Houser
Houser created the webcomic Cupcake POW! and has written for a variety of comics including Faith, Amazing Spider-Man, Max Ride: Ultimate Fight, Agent May, and Orphan Black.
She also did an interview with Multiversity Comics about Faith.
Finally, here’s an interview with Houser from NYCC 2016 from ComicsVerse.
Find out more about Jody on her official site.
Day 42 – Kordi Freemaker
Kordi Freemaker is one of the stars of LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures. Kordi, along with her brothers Zander and Rowan, are a family of scavengers. Their adventures take place between the events of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi and the Freemakers series is considered “canon adjacent.”
Don’t let the fact that Freemakers isn’t canon keep you away from the show though. It has many loyal fans, in part because it is quite funny. If you’re looking for more information about Freemakers check out Star Scavengers, a podcast from Johnamarie Macias and Aaron Goins.
Here’s a clip of Kordi from the Freemakers series.
And here’s a video of gameplay with Kordi Freemaker from LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Day 43 – Depa Billaba
Depa Billaba was a Jedi Master who served on the Jedi High Council in The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. She was trained by Mace Windu and took Caleb Dume (who is better known as Kanan Jarrus in Star Wars Rebels) as a padawan.
Depa Billaba sacrificed herself during Order 66 to save her padawan (Caleb) and these events are mentioned in several episodes of Star Wars Rebels. Depa is featured in several episodes of the Star Wars: Kanan comic series that focused on the time Caleb was a padawan and how he survived Order 66.
For a brief overview of Depa’s canon history check out this video from Star Wars Explained.
Day 44 – Adi Gallia
Adi Gallia was a Jedi who sat on the Jedi High Council in The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. You don’t see much of Gallia in the prequel films, but her character was featured in several episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
In The Clone Wars TV series Gallia, who was a General for the Republic Army, had storylines with Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, Eeeth Koth, General Grievous, Darth Maul, and Savage Opress.
You can see her in action in the video below.
Actress Angelique Perrin voiced Gallia in The Clone Wars and Gin Clark portrayed her in the prequel films. Gallia also appeared in one issue of the Mace Windu comic series as well a several Legends comic issues and novels.
Day 45 – Yaddle
Yaddle was a Jedi Master who served on the Jedi High Council in The Phantom Menace. Yaddle is the same unnamed species that Yoda is. She is also known as “The One Below” – to find out why you’ll need to check out some Legends comics.
You can barely see Yaddle in The Phantom Menace. The screenshot below is all you really see of her.
This photo is from the StarWars.com Databank. It makes me wonder if there was supposed to more Yaddle in The Phantom Menace but these scenes ended up on the cutting room floor.
The only canon appearance for Yaddle was sadly in The Phantom Menace and a few accompanying books. If ever you needed an excuse to dive into some Legends materials, Yaddle is that reason.
Yaddle appeared in several Jedi Quest young reader novels that took place in between The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. She also appeared in several Star Wars: Republic comics series, most notably the Emissaries to Malastare issues (#13-16).
Yaddle’s backstory can be found in “Yaddle’s Tale: The One Below” which was a part of Star Wars Tales 5. And you should read it (I just did). It turns out Yaddle never completed her Jedi training because she was imprisoned for about 100 years. Once she finally gets out she helps the people who confined her and saves them from a would-be conqueror. Because she’s Yaddle, and she’s awesome.
Even Yoda – who really likes to follow Jedi rules – thinks that she has earned the title Jedi Master by the end of this story.
Learn more about Yaddle from these videos below that talk about her special powers, her death, how she trained fellow High Council Member Oppo Rancisis.
Day 46 – Stass Allie
Stass Allie was a Jedi Master who served on the Jedi High Council in Revenge of the Sith. She took the seat that previously belonged to Day 44’s woman of the day, Adi Gallia. Allie also fought in the Battle of Geonosis in Attack of the Clones but you can only catch glimpses of her at the end of the battle.
I have read in a few places including her Wookiepedia page that the Stass Allie character came to be quite by accident. Actress Lily Nyamwasa (pictured at the top of this post on the left) was originally going to be playing Adi Gallia in Attack of the Clones (instead of Gin Clarke who played her in The Phantom Menace). The reason for the actress change was apparently that Clones was being shot in Australia rather than England and I suppose Clarke was either not available or they didn’t want to fly her halfway around the world. However, at some point when Nyamwasa shot her scenes for Clones it was obvious that the two actresses did not look similar enough to play the same role so they created the Stass Allie character.
Here is Stass Allie on the left from Attack of the Clones and Adi Gallia on the right from The Phantom Menace. Canonically they are Tholothian cousins. An extremely similar two actors/new character Jedi switcharoo situation occurred in the Battle of Geonosis with the male Jedi characters Eeth Koth and Agen Kolar.
And it gets more complicated. Check out this shot of the Jedi High Council from Attack of the Clones below. Who is the woman in the left circle?
I originally thought it was Stass Allie and identified her that way in my article breaking down all the female roles in Attack of the Clones. But is it Adi Gallia? I’ve read that Adi Gallia is in The Phantom Menace but the only footage of her in Clones was from unused footage from The Phantom Menace. But how is Shaak Tii (circle on the right) there then? Is it digital wizardry replacing Yaddle with Shaak Tii? That seems possible. I’m just not sure about all of this, but I’ll update this post once I figure it out.
But we’re not done with the confusing behind the scenes story of Stass Allie. In Revenge of the Sith we see Allie’s death during the Order 66 sequence. Here’s the scene with Stass Allie below.
What’s confusing about this? Well, Stass Allie is played by a different woman in this scene in Revenge of the Sith (Nina Fallon) than in Attack of the Clones (Lily Nyamwasa). But that’s not all! According to Nina Fallon’s Wookiepedia page Stass Allie was played by Tace Bayliss in council scenes and Fallon in the scene above?!?! That’s three actresses playing the role of a Jedi in two movies who never speaks and we barely see onscreen.
So maybe Bayliss is in this shot below. Hard to say.
What’s pretty fantastic is that Nina Fallon was the Visual Effects Coordinator for Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. You didn’t see that one coming did you?
As far as Legends material Stass Allie can be found in a few places including the video game Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter and the novel Labyrinth of Evil.
Day 47 – Shaak Ti
Shaak Ti was a Jedi Master who served on the Jedi High Council in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Two scenes of her death were filmed for Revenge of the Sith but they both ended up on the cutting room floor.
Shaak Ti took Yaddle’s seat on the Jedi High Council after Yaddle’s death and fought in the Battle of Geonosis. During the Clone Wars, Shaak Tii was promoted to the rank of General and oversaw the training of the Clone Troopers on Kamino. Like so many Jedi from the prequels, Shaak Ti was seen but not heard. But Shaak Ti gets a lot more screen time and is a strong, interesting, and fully developed character in her appearances in several episodes of The Clones Wars television series.
Here’s a clip of Shaak Ti from the Season 6 episode “Conspiracy.”
Shaak Ti also appeared in the comic Jedi of the Republic—Mace Windu, Part I and the novel Dark Disciple. In Legends productions Shaak Tii had even more appearances including The Force Unleased video game (that includes yet another version of her death), LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga, and the novel Labyrinth of Evil.
Here’s a video that describes the confusion around how Shaak Ti died (a lot of this can be described as confusion around what is Canon and what is Legends, especially when it comes to deleted scenes from Canon films).
Here’s another montage of Shaak Ti death scenes that includes a vision Yoda has of her death.
How did Shaak Ti really die? I don’t think that has been truly established. But that shouldn’t overshadow what a great character she was in The Clone Wars TV series.
Day 48 – Mariss Brood
Mariss Brood was a Jedi Padawan that survived Order 66. She appeared in The Force Unleashed video game and novel. In The Force Unleashed storyline Brood was found by Jedi Master Shaak Ti who trained her on the planet Felucia as they were hiding from the Sith.
If you’re thinking “Wait, didn’t Shaak Ti die in Revenge of the Sith?” see her post from Day 47. Brood (who was voiced by Adrienne Wilkinson) ended up turning to the Dark Side although her future was left pretty unclear in the game. Other characters Mariss Brood had interacted with in The Force Unleashed included Starkiller and Bail Organa.
There were both trading cards and action figures made for Mariss Brood.
Here’s a clip of Mariss Brood from The Force Unleashed.
Day 49 – Queen of Ktath’atn
The Queen of Ktath’atn appeared in the Screaming Citadel crossover event between the Star Wars and Doctor Aphra Marvel comic series. Her first appearance was in the comic that kicked off this story arc – Star Wars: The Screaming Citadel. This storyline takes place between the events of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.
In the series, visitors are allowed to visit the Queen to ask for favors in exchange for providing the Queen a variety of organic oddities. Aphra convinces Luke Skywalker to visit the Queen to try and reactivate an artifact that contained the consciousness of a Jedi from the past. Unsurprisingly, things don’t go as planned.
I won’t spoil the story but let’s just say that the Queen wants more from Luke than he is willing to give. Whether or not this horror storyline worked for you, the Queen has quite a fantastic look and an amusing way with words.
Day 50 – Alexina Duncan
Alexina Duncan was a costume buyer for The Last Jedi. She also regularly cosplays as Hera Syndulla with the Rebel Legion. She was kind enough to answer a few questions via email for 365 Days of Star Wars Women.
How long have you been a Star Wars fan?
Literally for as long as I can remember! One of my first – if not the first – memories is explaining the Empire Strikes Back to my dad, so I really don’t remember a time before Star Wars.
What was the first costume based off a character you created and what inspired you to make this costume? If it wasn’t a Star Wars character, what was your first Star Wars character costume?
If we really get into it, the first character costume that I made myself from scratch was a wearable textile sculptural piece based on Madame de Merteuil from Les Liaisons Dangereueses. I think it’s a fact that every costume person has an eighteenth-century phase at some point and mine hit me right as I began pushing towards costume as something more than an unproductive passing interest. It was this vast wire structure mirroring panniers and stays, draped with dress patterns that I laminated, melted, embroidered with this sort of mass of fabrics, embroidery, and all sorts of weirdness drawing from anatomical drawings pouring out to reflect her rot both as a character, and her inner rot as she is slowly dying from syphilis. Cheerful stuff! I was really proud of that piece, but unfortunately I think I’ve lost all photos of it.
Cosplaywise, I guess Bellatrix Lestrange for the book launch of the Deathly Hallows. But as far as I was concerned it was just dressing up – I got ready in the bathroom after work – and it was a closet cosplay with different garments layered up and slashed. First cosplay – true cosplay – from scratch was a Rebels Ahsoka Tano for Star Wars Celebration Europe in 2016. It was a disaster as I did it in around 48 hours, and I mostly try to forget it ever happened! Making Hera Syndulla almost exactly a year ago was when I started taking cosplay seriously as something for myself.
Why did you decide to submit your Hera work to Rebel Legion?
Mostly just because, to be honest. Despite being something of a disaster, my Ahsoka caught the eye of someone in the Rebel Legion who tracked me down and hassled me to join. I ignored him but we became friends anyway, and when I kicked Hera off for Star Wars Celebration Orlando I decided, ‘why not?’ The way I work is compatible with the Legion’s standards and strive for accuracy, so I mostly thought it would be a nice feather in my cap. Make the costume, get cleared, do the minimal one-troop-a-year and that would be that. Unfortunately it escalated into so much more and kind of took over my life!
Can you tell me a bit about the Rebel Legion for people not familiar with this organization.
I honestly never expected to love the Rebel Legion like I do! I’m not much of a participator, but when I went on my first troop – which I intended to be my only troop – a little girl ran up to me and told me that she dressed up as me (Hera) and faced up to some bullies. That’s when I realised I was hooked. Those amazing, magical moments you share with children because their character has come to life and is right in front of them. It’s when your costume is elevated from being this thing that you made at home to something that has this great, wider meaning and weight and you get to share that with other fans.
The Rebel Legion is a Star Wars costume club – the good guys! – and we use our costumes for charity fundraising and community events, to connect and share our love of Star Wars and costumes with the general public in a real and meaningful way that can be so unbelievably moving. As we, and our sister organisations the 501st (the ‘bad guys’) and the Mando Mercs, do cosplay in an official capacity – and we are lucky to be recognised for our work and sometimes get to work directly with Disney and Lucasfilm – it means that there is an infrastructure and submission process just to make sure everyone is working at the same level. The aim is to be as close to screen accurate as possible, and the legion forum is an incredible community with a vast wealth of information!
If looking to join, it is recommended that you start a progress thread on the forum showing your process as you make your costume, and other members can offer tips or advice, or just encouragement, to make sure that you are meeting the necessary standards and can have your costume cleared as smoothly as possible when it is done. Once you have finished your costume, take pictures from all angles and submit them to be checked against the character standards for accuracy. It can look very intimidating from an outside perspective, I know, and there can be this sense of elitism sometimes between those in the legions and cosplayers working outside, but honestly it is all cosplaying. The aim of all who cosplay is to celebrate their favourite characters in this amazing combination of costume and skill and performance participation. The only difference is that in the legion we are all working together within this structure; it’s just a different, more formalised way of doing things that is always striving to be as inclusive as possible so that we can do our best for communities and charities.
What is your favorite Star Wars cosplay and what are you working on now?
At this point my favourite cosplay is still my girl and my general, Hera Syndulla. She was my first serious cosplay (or at least I like to pretend she was), and I don’t see me retiring her anytime soon. She gets the most amazing response from people of all ages at all sorts of events. She is my favourite character in Star Wars and was literally the reason that I came back to the franchise and fandom after ten years – it always feels ridiculous to say that a fictional character changed your life, but she did. She has inspired me and pushed me, as well as being incredibly identifiable and relatable. I know that there are so many things, personally and professionally, that I wouldn’t have gone for if I hadn’t stumbled across Rebels and found her. Being able to share how much she means to me and celebrate her through my work is the most wonderful feeling. Also: it is an incredibly comfy costume to wear, even with the body paint.
Right now I am working on her Red Phoenix Squadron flightsuit. Life has, unfortunately, gotten in the way so it is unlikely that she will be ready for the show’s return after the hiatus. But she will definitely be ready to give the show the best possible farewell. Then I’ll be taking a brief foray into live action with Jyn Erso, which is nervewracking.
I’m curious what your favorite part of creating a costume is and what your least favorite part is.
Favourite part and least favourite…. It’s hard to say. I love the entire process of costume making. I always feel like my cosplay work, particularly given that I primarily do animated characters so there’s a level of interpretation at play, is like industry in microcosm. There’s the sampling and the sourcing, the toiling and fitting, then the actual making. Then that magical moment where it all suddenly rushes together and is done. There is a joy in every process, but also frustration. I love sourcing my fabrics and materials; I work as a costume buyer, so it gives me a chance to take my professional knowledge and practice but apply it to myself. For me costume was always this external thing that was done for others, to facilitate others, so cosplaying for me has become this sort of very self-indulgent, therapeutic action.
As I primarily make animated characters right now, the most stressful part is probably the process of breaking down the character model and working out how this unreal design can be made physical. Specifically: seams! Where can you cheat it? Where can you work around? Where are the fastenings on this impossible garment? Also: where are the character’s knees? You work out the knees and the waist, and you can calculate the rest from there. It’s the most crucial step to making sure that the costume works at all. But as frustrating as that process can be, with a lot of trial and error, when you nail the cut and the silhouette it is all worth it and it becomes the best feeling.
You worked on The Last Jedi as a Costume Buyer. How did you get this position and what does a Costume Buyer do on a film?
I got to work on The Last Jedi through hardwork and good timing. I had been working in the industry for several years and had started moving from mid-budget to larger budget films. When I discovered Rebels I was working on an extremely difficult production and I was extremely ill – discovering Rebels and The Clone Wars with it was what helped me get through each day. That job was awful for me, but a huge, huge learning curve that really pushed me. When I got to the end of production I thought it would be really funny if my rediscovered love of Star Wars led to a job on whatever project was happening next. So I shot off an email with my CV and went on holiday to Paris, and didn’t think anything more about it. When I came back I had an invitation to interview with Dave Crossman (the costume supervisor) based on my CV and, in particular, the difficult job I had just finished. Then I had another interview with Michael Kaplan, and then I had a start date and I was screaming internally. Just like that, I had gotten my childhood dream job, and I don’t think I’ll ever quite get over that. It was very surreal going into that space as a fan and knowing that is was where Star Wars was being made, so I tried really hard to hide how much of a fan I was and be cool.
The way I tend to put it is that a costume buyer is a facilitator. The designer’s job is to facilitate the director’s vision, my job is to facilitate the designer’s. On a production like Star Wars – where nearly everything is made in-house because there isn’t a handy Star Wars Shop. This means that I work with the design team, the makers and the wardrobe team. Makers to ensure that they have all their haberdashery, fabric, findings, and any other needs met. Likewise with the wardrobe team (ie. the on-set stand-by team), but for maintenance, comfort wear and so on. The majority of my work, though, is with the designer and the design assistants working from briefs to source fabrics, clothing, shoes… anything and everything. Somedays briefs are broad I will be looking for a ‘red wool’. Other days it will be an extremely specific silk jersey or a leather. Somedays it’s sourcing something like 1000m of aquarium tubing. If it is seen on screen, someone has sourced and bought that
How long were you were working on The Last Jedi as a costume buyer?
I was on The Last Jedi for a little under a year. Which for me, as a freelance costumier, is a long time!
What were some of the items you sourced for the film? Anything you want to share about certain things you were looking for? Anything that surprised you about this experience?
As a costume buyer it’s really hard to be able to point at the screen and say ‘I did that’. People always want to know what you made or what you designed, and it’s never as impressive when you say ‘Well, I found that fabric but there were only 4m left in the entire world, but I magically managed to source this perfect match,’ or ‘I found these amazing heavy duty invisible open-ended zips that revolutionised how we made that sleeve.’
A costume buyer is a very small cog in a very large machine, so it’s all a bit meaningless to anyone but me; the legs working hard under the water. Even within the department there can be a bit of unawareness of what the buyer is doing because we are rarely actually there in the office or workshop, we’re always out racing across the country sourcing and buying, hitting up our contacts to hopefully find that perfect something. We just show up at the start or end of the day with (hopefully) what is needed. The flipside of that is that it means that, technically speaking I had a (very small) hand in nearly every costume which is a very quiet satisfaction.
On a project like Star Wars the process was essentially the same as on any other production. Except that because it was Star Wars, everything was just so much more. There was this weight of responsibility on everything because you knew it meant so much, and it wasn’t just a film: it was a piece of cinematic history. So it could get a bit daunting when you’re out searching for the perfect fabric options for your childhood hero, Princess Leia. Or Luke Skywalker. Or you come back to the studio and there is Anthony Daniels as C3-PO being fitted. Or you’re sitting at your desk doing paperwork and turnaround and there is Darth Vader standing behind you. Or… a job like every other that just suddenly screeched to halt by these amazing, impossible moments.
One thing, actually, that I sourced and has had a weirdly huge impact on me was the space jewelry. I’m not always entirely sure what the final things being used on the cast: I source it, I pass it on, I move onto the next thing. Sometimes I’ll be there for fittings, but most of the time there is too much going on. So I vividly remember when I saw some of the magazine covers coming out ahead of The Last Jedi and I was suddenly overwhelmed because there was Holdo wearing the cuffs that I sourced. Then my heart stopped as I scrolled and there was Leia herself in the wave cuff that I had bought. Leia! Nevermind everything else that they were wearing, for some reason the fact that I had bought those specific elements incidentally – pieces that people were being moved and excited by and were writing think pieces on – meant everything to me. More than I could say. It really cemented for me that I had actually contributed to cinematic history, that my work has mattered to someone somewhere.
Can you say anything about projects you have coming up? Long-term are you hoping to be a costume designer for TV and films?
A few projects that I worked on are coming up soon: Duncan Jones’ Mute is getting released on Netflix in a few weeks, which was a really fun job for me as a buyer, then Tomb Raider is looming imminently. I also worked on Darkest Hour which I think is still showing since it got the Oscar nomination! It is always exciting to be a part of something that has been recognised in that way.
Long-term, I’m not really sure what my plan for the future is. Right now alongside my buying work I’m doing my Masters in Fashion Cultures at London College of Fashion, and taking the time to really dig into what I love about costume and fashion and how and why they can communicate so much to us – and how. It’s a real luxury to be able to take time to pause and take a hard, reflective look at what I do and what I love. My thesis will be on the concept of rebellion in Star Wars costuming, and how that has shifted yet remained consistent in significance over forty years. Costume is, I think, something that is widely misunderstood and underestimated. Often because it is just on screen doing its job, not distracting from the action. Screen costume academia is a relatively small field right now so I would like to be able to share how costume works both literally in its conception but also in its performance. Otherwise, my heart and soul is in costume and in film, and I know that so long as I am in some way contributing to bring stories and characters to life I will be happy. Designing for screen will always be a dream.
Finally, what is the most common misconception about being a cosplayer and a costume buyer (or perhaps the biggest misconception about the costume department in films)?
Historically the costume department has been one of the least regarded departments. To paraphrase Bridget Jones, a lot of people think that we fanny around with bits of fabric all day. I do think that this is something that is slowly shifting, and more respect is growing: I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard ‘I could never do your job/I could never work in costume!’ once they realise just how much is going on behind the scenes. Costume is so crucial to film and television. If it’s wrong then it fights the story and the narrative and can disrupt everything, both by distracting the audience but also by throwing off the actors and blocking their engagement with their characters. I have seen actors get utterly spooked and begin to consider backing out of a project based solely on how the costumes weren’t working. You always hear about actors saying that they find the character when they put on their costume and it sounds like so much actors process whatever, but I’ve seen it happen. That moment where suddenly everything slots into place and this character is standing there in the fitting room. Costume is just so crucial.
There is also a lack of respect – or acknowledgement, I guess – for contemporary projects. They have current fashions, that’s easy, right? Just nip out to the high street and grab some clothes. But it’s just as much work as a huge made production like Star Wars, and they come with their own set of challenges. Everything needs to look effortless but still be right. If a character is wearing jeans a t-shirt the designer is limited on what can be communicated with so little, so every tiny detail must be meticulously considered.
If young girls are reading this and want advice on breaking into the costume industry what advice would you give them?
There are so many different ways to get into costume, it is really hard to give specific recommendations. I did my degree in costume, posted hardcopies of my CV with cover letters to as many productions that I knew were going on as possible. It was very analogue, but because I had a still from a short film that I designed at university on my business cards, I caught the eye of the costume supervisor who eventually jumpstarted my career. You can do similar by researching productions online, or calling round the studios and asking to talk to production offices to get email addresses. It’s an introverts nightmare, it can take a long time to get your foot in the door, and even once you have that foot in it can take a while for work to become regular. Persistence is key. Passion is key. It sounds cheesy, but you need the passion for costume to drive you when it is 5am and you are standing in a horsebox in the middle of a muddy field desperately ironing dozens of shirts! Glamorous it is not.
Work hard, be adaptable and flexible. A degree or formal education in costume, fashion, textiles or design is not necessary: find the path that works for you, but I do recommend knowing how to sew, even if it is just the fundamentals (it is a good life skill, too)! You would be surprised how many people in industry don’t know, and being able to hop in at an emergency moment with a needle and thread will get you far. Having as many skills as possible is always incredibly useful and will help people remember you – building a good reputation via word of mouth is key to getting by. However, don’t let yourself be taken advantage off. The costume is hard, physical work with long hours and it is very easy to destroy yourself. I got diagnosed with MES/Chronic Fatigue nearly five years ago because I didn’t set boundaries for my well-being and I worked and worked, and now I have permanently and irrevocably ruined my health and will always need to balance that.
I am biased, but I do recommend that everyone tries a go at buying. It’s difficult work, but it is a crash course in materials, construction and design as you are supporting every aspect of the department. I have been working predominantly as a buyer for around 4 years now, and I am constantly learning so much on every job.
Thank you so much to Alexina for all of your help with this interview!
Day 51 – Merei Spanjaf
Merei Spanjaf was a tech expert and one of the main characters in the 4-part book series Servants of the Empire by Jason Fry. Zare Leonis, who also appeared in the Star Wars Rebels TV series was her boyfriend.
The events of the Servants of the Empire book series take place before and during the events of Star Wars Rebels. You can learn more about Merei and Servants of the Empire in Parts I & II of an interview with Jason Fry by Jay Shah. It’s definitely worth checking out. As is this list of awesome things about Merei Spanjaf from sewcorrelian.
One thing you will hear again and again from Star Wars fans who have read the Servants of the Empire series is that it’s an entertaining read for kids AND adults so don’t let the ‘younger readers’ label stop you from checking it out if you want more adventures from the Star Wars Rebels time period.
Day 52 – Veronica Ngo
Veronica Ngo is an actress, producer, and director who played Paige Tico in The Last Jedi. Ngo has starred in a variety of films including the 2017 Netflix film Bright, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny (2016), and The Rebel (2017, credited as Ngo Thanh Van).
Ngo, who has mostly worked in productions based in her home country of Vietnam, produced and starred in the films Co Ba Sai Gon (2017) and Clash (2009). She acted in and directed the 2015 comedy The Lost Dragon and starred, directed, and produced the 2016 fantasy film Tam Cam : The Untold Story.
A lot of the interviews and videos I discovered with Veronica Ngo were in Vietnamese but this 2014 compilation of clips of her work transcends language. It’s pretty awesome.