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Actor Billy Dee Williams is breaking the gender binary. During a recent interview with Esquire, Williams — who is best known for his role as Lando Calrissian in 1980’s Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and 1983’s Star Wars: The Return Of The Jedi, came out as gender fluid.

The Star Wars actor shared his experience with gender fluidity and used his preferred pronouns during the interview. “I say ‘himself’ and ‘herself,’ because I also see myself as feminine as well as masculine,” he said. “I’m a very soft person. I’m not afraid to show that side of myself.”

“I never tried to be anything except myself,” Williams said. “I think of myself as a relatively colorful character who doesn’t take himself or herself too seriously.”

LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 20: Donald Glover attends the Esquire’s Annual Maverick’s of Hollywood at Sunset Tower on February 20, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)

Williams was told that Donald Glover, who played the character of Lando in 2018’s Solo: A Star Wars Story, discussed embracing gender fluidity and sexuality prior to his debut in the Star Wars franchise, which caused Williams to light up.

“Really? That kid is brilliant — just look at those videos,” Williams said, referencing Glover’s song “This Is America.”

In the upcoming, The Rise of Skywalker, the final movie of the Skywalker saga, Williams reprised his role as Lando. Williams also said that he felt that his playing Lando led to other opportunities for him and other actors of color including The Rock and Jamie Foxx.

Both actors say that they are indebted to Williams for their careers. The character of Lando highlighted the inclusion of “a complex Black character” in a genre that remains “notoriously white,”  according to Esquire.

The most memorable moment of Williams’ career was his role in the Emmy award-winning Brian’s Song as Gale Sayers. The 1971 film was about two football players who were roommates and best friends. “It was a love story, really,” Williams said of the movie. “Between two guys. Without sex. It ended up being a kind of breakthrough in terms of racial division.”

When Williams was asked if Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker, where he reprises his role as Lando,  “is the end for Lando,” the 82-year-old said that his return depends on “how much money is generated.”

“It’s a conclusion — certainly it depends on how much money is generated. That’s when they determine where’s the conclusion,” Williams said. “The one thing about show business, you can resurrect anything.”

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is slated to be released on December 20. The film will feature unused footage of Carrie Fisher which will assist with completing the story. Fisher died in 2016 prior to filming and would have played a key role in the movie.


Glennisha Morgan is a Detroit-bred multimedia journalist and writer. She writes about intersectionality, hip-hop, pop culture, queer issues, race, feminism, and her truth. Follow her on Twitter @GlennishaMorgan.