Mary Oyaya’s name might not ring in the minds of many Kenyans except those who may have watched the movie Star Wars.
Oyaya was featured in the film Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones, where she played the role of Luminara Unduli, a Jedi master with an army to command to war.
Speaking in 2016 about her role in the movie, she narrated that she did not have big expectations even as she went to audition.
“I went for casting that was at Fox Studios and there was a big pile of people’s comp cards and lots of other people phoning in to get a role. So, there I was with other girls got our pictures taken, and sent to George (an agent) because he was on set.
Mary Oyaya (left) poses for a photo with star wars fans at an undated event.
“Next thing I know, my measurements are being taken and I’m trying Luminara’s outfit! Apparently, they knew what look they wanted so, as I was told later, the moment I walked in, the casting stopped!” she recounted.
She added that she fell in love with movies when she was young and particularly loved and came across Star Wars several times but had not been keen about it until she watched the first episode.
“I first watched Star Wars when I was just a kid but was not too crazy about it until I watched Episode I. I got hooked immediately and went to borrow all the earlier ones.”
When she got a role in the show, she stated that she did not expect people to notice her role since she expected that it would be just a brief appearance that only she and a few friends would recognise.
“By the time Star Wars was in town, I only wanted to be in the background and that would be fine. In fact, I thought Luminara would appear for just a second and no one would notice, but I would be busy pointing out to my friends! I never expected comics, PlayStation games, books, conventions or anything,” she recounted.
Ever since her first appearance in 2002 where her character was killed in the end, she has ended up appearing in the subsequent Star Wars films in some as voices, holograms and in others as visions and flashbacks.
Oyaya’s role was so fundamental that even the game ‘Star Wars: Jedi Academy; KOTF Mod’ has a part where her character Master Luminara fights with various villains who also played a role in the movie.
Mary Oyaya’s character Luminara Unduli appears in a Star Wars comic book.
She was also declared an Honorary Member of the 501st Legion (A worldwide Star Wars fan club), Rebel Legion, Star Wars Club Portugal, Rebel Legion Mexico and many others.
Oyaya has since featured in many other films and commercials, but no role stands out as much as the one she played on Star Wars.
According to her IMDB profile, she was born in Mombasa to parents who were diplomats and has lived in some parts of Africa, Canada, Sweden, and Australia.
She holds two Master’s Degrees in International Relations and International Social Development both acquired from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Australia.