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A long time ago in a galaxy not so far away Star Wars has made its epic comeback with its launch of The Force Awakens and most recently The Last Jedi.
Since the appalling arrival of the prequel movies, Star Wars was given a bad name. Unlike before, it had been none other than a disappointment for crazed fans all over the world. After the discovery of CGI and quite frankly, actors who can't act, George Lucas destroyed the beautiful galaxy we all grew up to know and love. BUT, in 2015, our eyes were re-opened and we fell back into that classic fantasy with J.J. Abrams' The Force Awakens.
Long before there was any confirmation of the new Star Wars sequel, it was announced that the company was doing open auditions for the two lead roles, Thomas and Rachel, which were later released as Sam and Kira. But these roles as we now know them, became Finn and Rey. The description was simple, stating they were looking for actors between the ages of 16-20, any race, one male and one female. The news exploded across the UK, with almost 100,000 attending the open auditions. And I was one of them.
As an aspiring actress and a huge Star Wars fan, this was my biggest dream, however, I was only 15 at the time of the auditions back in 2013 and therefore, never considered turning up. But with a little bit of luck, they released new audition dates, the last one being on my 16th birthday. Talk about fate. I attended the audition in a London Stadium, alongside around 5,000—10,000 other hopefuls. I was alone for the whole process, due to my mum not being allowed in with me as she, herself, was not auditioning. I proceeded through physical appearance checks, interviews with the casting directors and finally, I was chosen to read a script for a filmed audition. I was one of around 60 people who was called back, with only half of those being females, which at the time I didn't understand how big of a deal it was and why my parents were so taken back by it. But now I finally do.
Auditioning for Rey was huge. Everyone was always breathless when my family mentioned it, especially when we considered how close I was. At the time I auditioned, I was heartbroken that they announced Daisy Ridley was to star in the lead role. My dad, however, was so grateful I was never contacted after my final audition and I could never get my head around it. It was only after I watched The Force Awakens when it was released in the cinema that I thanked my lucky stars I was never chosen for Rey.
Watching the new Star Wars gave me the ability to relive my childhood alongside my dad as we listened to the opening credits. A rush of nostalgia that I would never have experienced if I had been in the movie. I would never have been able to separate myself from the franchise, nor would I ever have enjoyed watching the movie whilst seeing my face appear on screen every few minutes.
Despite this reason, I could never have comprehended the amount of hate and pure bullying Daisy Ridley would experience over social media, or in real life after the movie's release. I can talk however much I want about being able to feel nostalgic about watching the new release alongside my family, but I do know that I would never have been able to handle the intense level of destructive comments people made about Daisy's appearance, talent, or just simply her day-to-day life. People treated her horrifically, accounts were made just to shame and insult the actress, and she'd later find that she would no longer step outside without a camera in her face or around every corner. It was becoming apparent to me why my father had such a mental block against my uncertain future. I, myself, could not imagine watching my daughter's life become so visible and accessible to people all over the world, not knowing who to trust or how to handle it.
I grew up with Ridley being in my constant view. I watched her fall into a world of fame and success, but I also saw the hard side. I read the nasty comments; I watched her constantly photographed, whether she wanted it or not; And most importantly, I watched her handle it. That is why I'm so happy she was chosen, and she will continue to do brilliantly, and so shall I.