Star Wars is best seen through the eyes of its relatable heroes. We all understand the idealism of Luke Skywalker and Rey. We question ourselves with the moral dilemmas of Jyn Erso and Anakin Skywalker. We can even relate to Jar Jar Binks and his struggle to fit in. The characters of Star Wars are varied and accessible to all, and we can put ourselves into the stories by comparing them to ourselves. Some fans, though, have taken the next step, placing themselves into the galaxy far, far away with their own character creations.
Creating original characters, or, “OCs,” is a pastime as old as storytelling itself. Star Wars fans have engaged with the universe that captivates us all by concocting their own heroes, villains, and even a little bit of the in-between. Through mediums including written fan fiction, cosplay, art, and even custom action figures and filmmaking, these storytellers build their own tales within the modern mythology we all love. As part of our “Holonet Heroes” series, we will be spotlighting fan creators and their additions to the Star Wars pantheon.
“I first fell in love with Mandalorians when I saw Bo-Katan in The Clone Wars. I thought she and the Nite Owls looked badass, and it was cool to see women in cool armor as well,” cosplayer Bekah says as she showcases her custom helmet. This is the face of Falyn Raynor, a Mandalorian warrior of her own creation, kitted out in cerulean armor and a fur-trimmed cape (100% vegan, Bekah is quick to specify!) to face the most frigid wastelands in the farthest reaches of space. Armed with a Naboo blaster pistol and bearing the Royal Naboo crest on one shoulder with long brown hair descending from the helmet, it’s hard not to recognize the inspiration for Falyn’s striking appearance.
When asked if this wintry warrior owes any design debts to Padmé Amidala, Bekah sarcastically deadpans, “No,” before cackling like Salacious Crumb.
“When designing my Mandalorian, I struggled for a while, because I didn’t feel creative enough to just come up with my own thing. I found that taking elements from Star Wars would probably be the easiest.” A longtime fan of all things prequel, and specifically Padmé, she turned to the original 2003 Clone Wars animated micro-series for inspiration. “I chose to base Falyn off of Padmé’s Ilum outfit because I’ve always loved that one. I liked how different it was from most of the elaborate gowns and dresses. It was very simple, but still very feminine, while giving her an outfit she can move and fight in. Padmé Amidala is not going to just sit back on the ship. And I’ve always loved the snow Mandalorian cosplays I’ve seen, so it felt like a good way to mesh the two.”
One of the most intriguing things about Falyn Raynor is that she shares Bekah’s admiration of Padmé. “She didn’t grow up as a Mandalorian. She is from Naboo, and she idolized Padmé and everything she stood for. And Palpatine’s also from Naboo, so Falyn knows it’s not going to be easy but that the right thing to do is not to follow him. When the Empire started to take over, she didn’t want to be a part of that. And like I always try to follow Padmé as well, she knows what Padmé would have done, and starts fighting against dictatorship.” It is on her journey to find a way to fight the Empire that she encounters the Mandalorians, finding her strength by donning the armor, much as Bekah has.
Just as Falyn finds a place among Mandalorians, Bekah has found hers with the Mandalorian Mercs Costume Club, an international group celebrating all things Mando. “In the Mandalorian armor, similar to Falyn, I feel like I’ve found a part of me. I’d been around the Mandalorian Mercs for a while as part of other costuming clubs like the Rebel Legion, but once I started learning about Mandalorians and building my own kit, I started to find another family there. Through Falyn and through building this costume, I’ve found friends that have become family to me and have changed the way I engage with this hobby.” It is appropriate that opposite the Naboo crest, Falyn’s other shoulder bears the signet of Manda’galaar Clan, Bekah’s local chapter of the Mercs organization, because they have influenced and encouraged her maybe as much as Senator Amidala herself, from forming armor to forging friendships.
Bekah has also cosplayed as Padmé specifically, but she says that the difference that sets Falyn apart is how she interacts with the fandom. “When you go out at an event or a convention as Padmé, people know who you are. People recognize the character. And it’s a lot of fun to just be somebody that you always loved. But being Falyn is different, because people want to know about her, because they don’t know about her. I like the idea of being somebody who people don’t know, but they can tell is from Star Wars, sort of, and then want to learn about her. And I want to learn more about her too! Just recently, I was reading about different aspects of Naboo on Wookieepedia, and without even trying, I figured out what Falyn’s favorite flower would be!” Incidentally, it’s the millaflower, from The Gungan Frontier, an absolutely ridiculous game we’ve touched on here.
Although the character of Falyn and her place in the galaxy are clearly well-defined (I challenge anyone to tell me Luke Skywalker’s favorite flower), Bekah initially did not see herself as a storyteller. “I never really saw myself as creating a character until it just happened. It wasn’t something I had to think much about. She just started coming together as the costume did. It was easy to create her in the image of what I want myself to be and what I love about Padmé especially.”
Although she began as just a suit of armor and only received a character later, somewhat by accident, Falyn continues on with Bekah even after she takes off the helmet, packs away the cape, and lint-rolls sky blue fuzz off of her surroundings.
“I wanted to create a character who was strong like Padmé and Leia, but still regal and in doing so, I was able to find my own strength. Now, anytime I’m in a tough situation, I actually think of Falyn alongside the Star Wars heroines I’ve always loved. She’s the side of me I always want to be.”
To see more of Falyn and how she chooses to walk the Way of the Mandalore, follow Bekah at @bekahsoka on Instagram. This is the Way.