‘Star Wars’: J.J. Abrams Taps Victoria Mahoney as ‘Episode IX’ Second Unit Director

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J.J. Abrams has begun pre-production on “Star Wars: Episode IX” and tapped Victoria Mahoney as his second unit director, a major milestone for the franchise as its first African-American woman to serve in any directing role.

Ava DuVernay, who recently directed “A Wrinkle in Time” for Disney, announced the news on her Twitter feed on Tuesday.

Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy made it clear that she would like to see more diversity behind the camera going forward on future “Star Wars” films during the press tour for “The Last Jedi.”

“We want to make sure that when we bring a female director in to do ‘Star Wars,’ they’re set up for success,” Kennedy previously told Variety.

Abrams, who was tapped to return to the director’s chair for the next “Star Wars” last fall, is currently prepping for a summer shoot for the next film and has also begun the casting process for a handful of new roles. “Episode IX” is expected to bow on Dec. 20, 2019.

Mahoney just directed “Red Line,” a pilot for CBS that is exec produced by DuVernay and Greg Berlanti. After a career in episodic television, this is a big leap into film for Mahoney. She is also writing a TV adaptation of the novel “Dawn” for DuVernay and Charles King’s MACRO.

She also wrote, produced and directed “Yelling at the Sky”, that premiered at the Berlin Film Festival and was loosely based on her life.

Mahoney is repped by Verve.