Disney and Lucasfilm have joined forces to launch a new era in the Star Wars universe, beginning with the Disney XD cartoon series Star Wars Rebels in Fall 2014, followed by Episode VII in December 2015.

J.J. Abrams is directing the seventh live-action Star Wars installment, drawing from a script draft that he and Empire Strikes Back/Return of the Jedi co-writer Lawrence Kasdan put together –  a script that, is turn, is based on the earlier screenplay by Oscar-winner Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire).

We spent the entirety of 2013 slogging through what felt like endless casting rumors for Episode VII, but of late we’ve been getting some real, solid updates on that front. First, Adam Driver (known best for his work on HBO’s Girls) was revealed to be all but officially-set to play the film’s central antagonist.

Then, just a couple days ago, a credible shortlist of actors who are currently sitting atop the roster of people in consideration to play the young male lead in Episode VII (read: character deets from an earlier casting call) was revealed.

The latest Episode VII casting update concerns what Latino Review (in its report) dubs a “major female role,” which the site claims Lupita Nyong’o – who just became an Oscar-winner for her performance in Best Picture-winner 12 Years a Slave – has been reading for this past month; as fuel on that fire, the report asserts that Nyong’o is “extremely close” to signing a deal to portray the mystery character in Abrams’ Star Wars movie.

THR is confirming that Nyong’o did, in fact, meet with Abrams for a lead role in Episode VII, not that long before the 2014 Academy Awards ceremony. The THR article doesn’t speculate on her chances, but it does clarify that the 31-year old is not being considered for the young female lead role, but another key role altogether (possibly, a Jedi).

Those who are keeping count may note that it now seems that Episode VII may well have at least three female main characters, including the 20-something lead, the role Nyong’o is in the running for, and Carrie Fisher returning as the elder Leia. That’s a nice change of pace for the live-action Star Wars cinematic-verse, which has a bad habit of under-representing its women.

It’s also true that executives behind Episode VII have financial reasons to want a diverse cast (in terms of both race and gender), which is something we’ve discussed recently with regard to the world of superhero movie casting. That said, it’s not as though the non-white and/or female actors who’ve been rumored for Episode VII are unknowns who are being considered solely to satisfy a certain demographic.

On the contrary, Abrams has been eying some very impressive acting talent for his film; that includes newly-set Fantastic Four reboot star Michael B. Jordan and David Oyelowo (The Butler) early on, followed by Nyong’o and John Boyega (Attack the Block) in more recent times, and possibly even Nyong’o’s 12 Years a Slave costar Chiwetel Ejiofor, at one point. Hard to complain about any of those people being cast in a Star Wars film.

Star Wars: Episode VII is scheduled to open in U.S. theaters on December 18th, 2015.

Source: Latino Review, THR