Page 3 Profile: Natalie Wreyford, PhD student


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The force is strong with this one…

You’re right about that. The 42-year-old film scholar, and mother of two, from Walthamstow, east London, has taken on Disney – and won – over its refusal to make Princess Leia dolls. As well as researching why there are so few female screenwriters for her thesis, Ms Wreyford had been planning a Star Wars-themed party for her son, Seth, four, and daughter Honor, six. Although Seth had lots of male dolls to choose from in the shops – Han Solo, Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker – poor Honor could not find a Princess Leia doll anywhere.

Enter Twitter…

Exactly. After trips to Disney stores proved fruitless Ms Wreyford went online to ask Disney why the lack of Leia merchandise. The US film giant perhaps thought that a cheerful answer stating it had “no plans” to do so would be the end of the matter – especially as the reply ended: “Have a wonderful day!” But all that did was create uproar and kick off a global online campaign with the slogan #WeWantLeia as Disney were accused of sexism.

Underestimate the power of the internet at your peril!

As Ms Wreyford told i: “On the Disney website you can search for Star Wars toys by gender. But whereas there are 57 items boys can choose from there are  just two for girls.”

Hmmm. But surely the toys shouldn’t be separated by  gender anyway?

Well, no. Honor has posters of Princess Leia up in her room, but this does not a happy six-year-old at a party make. Ms Wreyford said: “She was so excited, but when I had to tell her Disney don’t do Princess Leia dolls, she was absolutely crushed. She burst into tears. Why do companies have to sell their products by gender labelling  which could have a negative  effect on children?

A New Hope?

Well, there is now that Disney has relented and promised it will begin to start stocking “several Princess Leia items” in its range.