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Star Wars Actor Billy Dee Williams Reveals Gender Fluidity in New Interview

lando calrissian billy dee williams

Billy Dee Williams, the 82 year old actor who first portrayed Lando Calrissian in 1980's Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, recently acknowledged his gender fluidity in an interview with Esquire. "I say ‘himself’ and ‘herself,’ because I also see myself as feminine as well as masculine," he said. "I’m a very soft person. I’m not afraid to show that side of myself.”

Williams, who will be reprising his role as Lando in The Rise of Skywalker, the last movie of the Skywalker saga, spoke with Matt Miller of Esquire. The actor mentioned that despite Lando's charm and the many doors that it opened not just for him, but for other actors of color, the more memorable performance of his career was his role as Gale Sayers in Brian's Song, a 1971 Emmy-nominated telefilm about two football players who were roommates and best friends. “It was a love story, really," Williams said, clarifying the subtext. "Between two guys. Without sex. It ended up being a kind of breakthrough in terms of racial division.”

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Williams also praised Donald Glover, who portrayed a young Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story, and who had known since he read the script that Lando was a pansexual character, something that Jonathan Kasdan, Solo's writer, confirmed.

This detail, which seems quite important to Lando's personality, is never explicitly shown on-screen other than through the testimony of L-3, Lando's freed robot and partner in crime. It was criticized  as queerbaiting, a term which refers to media attempting to attract an LGBTQIA+ audience by mentioning LGBTQIA+ backstory or by implying a queer relationship that is never actually shown on the screen -- something that rarely happens with cisgender, heterosexual characters. This allows companies to attract, or "bait" the LGBTQIA+ public without enraging homophobic moviegoers.

Williams also talked about the abuse that the youngest Star Wars actors have suffered in social media, particularly Kelly Marie Tran (Rose Tico), John Boyega (Finn) and Daisy Ridley (Rey), who have been targeted with racist and sexist attacks for years. He had a small tip for them: “You’re always going to have people making stupid comments. One deals with indignities all the time. Do you sit around with vengeance in your soul? You can’t do that. I’m not forcing people to listen to my point of view, but if I can present it in some creative fashion — I’m the painter, tweaking, adding, contributing, putting in something that you haven’t thought about, maybe."

In other words, the best revenge against haters is to keep living a creative life.

(Via Esquire and Huffington Post)

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