What do you get when you cast Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Jessica Jason Leigh, and Gina Rodriguez as leading scientist in an upcoming sci-fi thriller? A historically groundbreaking film and a load of onscreen magic, that's what. The crazy talented actors are starring in the upcoming film adaptation Annihilation, and its casting is already giving people of color something they rarely see — women of color in sci-fi genres.
Written by James VanderMeer in 2014, Annihilation is a story about a group of female scientists who venture out to unchartered territory to survey the land that's been the source of many disappearances, diseases, and suicides. Starring in the film adaptation will be Portman as The Biologist, Tessa Thompson as The Surveyor, Leigh as The Psychologist, and Rodriguez as Anya Thorensen — as seen on IMDB. And according to Rodriguez's Twitter page, it has a release date of Feb. 23.
Simply seeing two women of color — Tessa Thompson and Gina Rodriguez — heading up the cast means so much to both women, and people of color, whether fans of sci-fi or not. The two are rarely represented in the mythical-driven genre as anything other than sidekicks or extras. And witnessing the black girl and Latina magic that Rodriguez shared with fans in the below selfie, shows that it's beyond time for a change.
In the land of science fiction, the imaginary exceeds fan's wildest dreams — from time and space travel to extraterrestrial interactions. And by only representing people of color within these fantasies, Hollywood is saying that people of color are not only invisible in the real world, but they're also hard to be imagined in an alternate universe.
Sounds preposterous, doesn't it? That's because it absolutely is. When speaking of diversity in film and television, the science fiction genre often lacks representation of women or people of color. And it's certainly one that both identities can and should be equally depicted within. Recent films like Annihilation, or even the HBO adaptation of Fahrenheit 451, are important because they placed actors of color at the storyline's helm — without feeling the need to cover them in blue paint.
Needless to say, the theaters better adequately prepare themselves for this early 2018 epicness, because women of all colors may be arriving in droves to catch a glimpse of themselves on the big screen.