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Mother-daughter acting duo find fame in Star Wars galaxy

Posted at 8:53 AM, Feb 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-12 18:46:35-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — A galaxy far, far away has some friendly faces out of Bakersfield.

Toys N Comics is looking to put Bakersfield on the map of the Star Wars galaxy as it unveils its new Jawa Adventures Fan Club. The Cantina, located at 1300 19th Street, will include signed memorabilia, photos, and on Saturday fans can meet local actresses Leilani and Ariel Shiu who worked on both the Mandalorian and the Book of Boba Fett.

"Barbies are okay but I was more a Princess Leila person," said Leilani Shiu.

Shiu and her daughter Ariel both played Jawas in Disney+'s The Mandalorian and the Book of Boba Fett. Shiu says her family has been in Bakersfield for decades and she's been acting for nearly as long, but it's exciting to be able to bring a Bakersfield name to a big studio franchise.

"You don’t know until you start becoming a background character. And I think being in part of a Star Wars world, you see it more, because of the scenery. You see it with Tatooine, with the sand the dirt," Shiu said. "Because we’re each different characters and we bring it to life, not just the main characters but the background actors as well.”

Shiu's biggest role came on the set of the Mandalorian four years ago. She said when they first got the callback, they didn't even know what role they'd be playing. For the Book of Boba Fett, she played a Jawa once again and even played a Chadra-Fan Gambler. Though many of her initial appearances were uncredited, during chaper 5 of the Book of Boba Fett, Shiu was credited in a scene involving her and the Mandolorian.

“I play a very big role in chapter 5 and that’s when the Mandalorian returns, and so I couldn’t saying anything and I’m in there with Mando and Peli and I couldn’t say anything," she said. "So then watching it it was like oh my gosh we had a big role in this."

Not only was the experience a dream come true due to her role, but also for the chance to work alongside actors like Temura Morrison, Ming-Na Wen, and director Jon Favreau. And even more than being her big role as a background actor, Shiu’s excited for her chance to be an example of little people making it in media.

"It's great that these sets open doors, like characters like Star Wars open doors," she said.

You can meet Leilani and Ariel Saturday at Toys N Comics from noon to 6 p.m. You can also bring a toy and the store will donate it to the Bakerfield Homeless Center.