Thanks to ‘Ahsoka’, Rosario Dawson Is Finally The Action Star She Deserves To Be…

Posted in Disney +, TV, What's Streaming? by - August 25, 2023
Thanks to ‘Ahsoka’, Rosario Dawson Is Finally The Action Star She Deserves To Be…

Rosario Dawson has always had star presence, but she’s rarely been the star of the projects in which she appears. Even in the actress’s iconic roles in films like Spike Lee’s The 25th Hour or Luke Cage, she’s usually a supporting character, and frequently just a love interest. In recent years, the talented thespian’s career has also been overshadowed by a high-profile – and now finished – relationship with New Jersey Senator/2020 Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker. However, with Ahsoka, the 44-year-old actress cements herself as a bona fide screen star. At an age when most B-list actresses who never broke big are being put out to pasture (Read: Hallmark movies and playing the mom on a CW show), Dawson is poised to become an action superstar….     

A spinoff of The Mandalorian, Ahsoka literally packs a punch. Nearly as soon as we meet her, our titular character Ahsoka Tano (an erstwhile Jedi) becomes outnumbered by five droids who want the star map she’s just stolen. With her signature double white lightsabers, Ahsoka easily fights them off. The audience immediately sees she’s a character with real gravitas – Ahsoka even defies gravity by using the power of the force to leap onto a moving spaceship and flee to safety. 

Created and written by Dave Filoni for Disney+, This latest Lucas Film miniseries is set in the years following The Return of The Jedi. The Galactic Empire has technically fallen but many of its loyalists remain. Ahsoka herself is a student of pre-evil Anakin Skywalker who has become disillusioned with Jedi ways. In the the premier, she explains, “Before the end of the Clone Wars, I walked away from him, and the Jedi.” But did she really? We quickly realize Ahsoka has some unfinished Jedi business. 

Stoic and always dignified, Ahsoka’s primary objectives are to prevent another full-scale war and to find Ezra, a presumed dead former student who may actually be alive. In this regard, Ahsoka feels almost like a sci fi Liam Neeson from Taken, on a mission to find a missing youth whom she loves. To achieve her goals, Ahsoka reluctantly enlists the help of another former student, Sabine (Natasha Liu Bordizzo). Sabine is a hedonistic drag racer who doesn’t have a particularly strong connection with the Force, but she’s certainly tenacious and loads of fun to watch. The impulsive Sabine is also the perfect foil to the measured, consummately cool-headed Ahsoka.       

Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) in Lucasfilm’s AHSOKA, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

In a heartwarming twist, Dawson herself was an admirer of the fearless Ahsoka Tano well before making the miniseries. She was a fan of the animated Star Wars series The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, where the warrior plays a central role. In 2020, Dawson got the chance to portray a live-action Ahsoka in an episode of the runaway hit show The Mandalorian, later reprising her role in an installment of The Book of Boba Fett. Guest starring roles aren’t unusual for the actress, who has appeared for short stints on a variety of TV series in recent years, including Jane The Virgin to DMZ, but this time, she got her own buzzy spinoff!  

What’s so remarkable about this miniseries isn’t just the production values (Disney always spends a fortune on Star Wars IP). What’s especially thrilling is that, at an age when Hollywood typically dismisses B-list actresses who never broke big, Rosario Dawson is finally coming into her own. No longer just the girlfriend in Clerks or a two-dimensional mom in this summer’s lackluster The Haunted Mansion, the middle-aged actress has been given the opportunity to become a true action hero. 

We are accustomed to seeing middle-aged male action heroes on our screens. Ewan McGregor got to reprise his role as Obi-Wan in his 50s. And outside of the Star Wars Universe, examples of older blockbuster stars abound! James Bond is always portrayed as a well-preserved, but decidedly middle-aged scamp. Tom Cruise, now in his sixties, is still making Top Gun and Mission Impossible movies, and the great Denzel Washington recently appeared in his third installment of The Equalizer. Hell, Harrison Ford was an octogenarian when Indiana Jones and The Dial of Destiny was released this spring! Infuriatingly, women are rarely given the same opportunity to play leads in big-budget space operas or action properties, let alone when they’re too old to be Lara Croft.

I am by no means ready to declare Hollywood sexism over. Anyone who saw the reductive portrayal of women in Oppenheimer knows we still have a long way to go! But it’s heartening to see a major studio like Disney bet big on a forty-something woman the way studios so often bet big on middle-aged – or even geriatric – men. Let’s hope this becomes a trend!

This post was written by
Sarah Sahagian is a feminist writer based in Toronto. Her byline has appeared in such publications as The Washington Post, Refinery29, Elle Canada, Flare, The Toronto Star, and The National Post. She is also the co-founder of The ProfessionElle Society. Sarah holds a master’s degree in Gender Studies from The London School of Economics. You can find her on Twitter, where she posts about parenting, politics, and The Bachelor.
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