Lupita Nyong’o, John Boyega, and Billy Dee Williams shine at Star Wars Celebration

Here's what you missed at the annual event in Chicago.

John Boyega
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Is superhero obsession film culture real or is Star Wars really that good? To me, Star Wars encompasses its very own unique universe and yes, it’s really that good!

Over the weekend, TheGrio joined more than 70,000 avid Star Wars fans in Chicago for the annual Star Wars Celebration. Not just a conference, but a celebration, celebration! Basically, it’s the biggest, utmost live, annual Star Wars soiree. In my hometown, so to say I was elated would be an understatement.

First off, the energy stepping foot on the convention grounds at The Wintrust Arena was unbridled pandemonium. Think Comic Con (Hello, REEDPop), but intergalactic with even greater innovation. And lightsabers! A whole bunch of light sabers. No matter what side of the force you were representing, you felt right at home at The Star Wars Celebration.

Star Wars have some of the most passionate fans and the first thing I did was go to the Star Wars Celebration Exhibit Hall to speak with a few of them. “I like Star Wars because there’s a character for everyone to identify with,” John Paskel, who traveled all the way  from Colorado, exclaimed.

Greg Wellington from London spoke about the commonality of man being a strong component of his galaxy love. “The human connection. The telling and extending of great stories. I got into Star Wars when I was six. To be a Star Wars fan you have to have a great imagination. Just how it stimulates the imagination. That’s something I value and now share with my children,” Mr. Wellington said.

‘Star Wars: Episode IX’ trailer unveiled with Billy Dee Williams’ smooth Lando Calrissian returning

Speaking of sharing, LucasFilms gave us a first look trailer for Star Wars IX: The Rise of Skywalker and it was epic. The raucous crowd at the Celebration Stage was indeed celebrating. You would’ve thought the Chicago Bulls just won another title or maybe the empire was striking back, pun intended. In all seriousness, this film is heavy on character progression and action sequencing. All signs point to Star Wars IX being an excellent addition to the galaxy franchise. And complete side note: I’m looking forward to all the impending duels.

My personal weekend highlight came from the official Star Wars Q&A cast panel which featured some of our very own Black star power (Billy Dee Williams, Lupita Nyong’o, John Boyega, and UK starlet, Naomi Ackie). Out of all the black Star Wars thespians, Billy D managed to steal the show once again in a very Lando Calrissian-like fashion.

 Star Wars IX moderator and late night host Stephen Colbert asked Mr. Williams how did he channel his character Lando Calrissian after so many decades. The smooth voice cadence of Billy D didn’t disappoint. “How did I find Lando again? Lando never left me,” Said Mr. Williams to a roaring applause.

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Rounding out the rest of weekend, was a dope Vader Immortal VR panel (thanks for the poster), Star Wars Animation Theater, and some interactive, Fantasy Flight Game play. Special shout out to the dude who beat me in X-Wing, I want my rematch, punk!

Be on the lookout for the new television series The Mandalorian. There was great panel discussion of the Mandalorian cast which featured veteran actors Carl Weathers and Giancarlo Esposito as well. This is a show for hardcore Star Wars fans looking for a new story. The trailer was great and the show was created by Jon Favreau so expect more fire. The Mandalorian series premieres on Disney in the Fall. Grio fam, save the date and may the force be with you.