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Kristen Stewart to play lesbian astronaut Sally Ride in 1st lead TV role

Kristen Stewart to play lesbian astronaut Sally Ride in 1st lead TV role

queer actress Kristen Stewart lesbian astronaut Sally Ride
Dominique Charriau/WireImage; NASA via National Archives and Records Administration

Kristen Stewart is headed to outer space in this new limited series!

Kristen Stewart is heading out of this world — quite literally — for her first-ever lead role in a TV series.

As reported by Deadline, Stewart will be starring in the limited series The Challenger (not to be confused with Luca Guadagnino's excellent film Challengers). On the show, Stewart will play astronaut Sally Ride, a.k.a. the first American woman to fly in outer space.

The series is based on the 2023 book The New Guys: The Historic Class of Astronauts That Broke Barriers and Changed the Face of Space Travel by Meredith E. Baby. For TV, it'll be written and showrun by Maggie Cohn (American Crime Story, The Staircase).

Ride was a member of NASA's space shuttle astronaut class of 1978, which was the first to not be entirely made up of white men. Six members of the class were women, one was Jewish, one was Asian American, and three were Black. Ride first went into space on board the Challenger Space Shuttle in June 1983, and then went up again in 1984, spending a total of more than 343 hours in space.


Ride left NASA in 1987, the same year she divorced her husband Steven Hawley. In her obituary, published after she died of pancreatic cancer in 2012, it was revealed that she had been dating professional women's tennis player Tam O'Shaughnessy and was in a long-term relationship with her for 27 years.

"This is something we've worked on at Big Swing since 2017, me, Meredith [Bagby], and Valerie [Stadler], about this new class of astronauts recruited by NASA in the early 1970s," producer Kyra Sedgwick said. "Sally Ride was among them, and the focus is this newly recruited wild, feral group of astronauts who were all very diverse. And then on an Oppenheimer track, it also tells the story of the Rogers Commission that investigated the Challenger disaster that Ride took part in. Growing up in Florida, Meredith Bagby was obsessed with space and the shuttle, and she also watched the Challenger explode. Meredith got hundreds of hours of interviews with the members of that class, and we have relationships with all those living astronauts and they will be part of our brain trust on the show."

"Valerie had this dream of having Kristen Stewart, and after more than a year of trying to get Kristen this book through back channeling, she read it and she fell in love," she added. "Getting Kristen and Maggie was incredible, for a company nobody really knows yet. We are three girls with a dream."

“[Stewart] has never done television, but when she read this she became obsessed with telling the story of Sally Ride from her own unique perspective that I won’t even try to paraphrase because she is so eloquent about it,” Sedgwick continued. “She was so stunning in these pitch meetings and that was a huge part of why it has been so competitive. She’s so compelling and was so rabid about telling this story about an American hero who had to hide who she was, in that time."

"Who better to play Sally Ride than one of the great actors of her generation?" she said.

Stewart has been taking lots of queer roles recently, starring in the lesbian rom-com Happiest Season in 2020, the steamy Love Lies Bleeding this year, and getting ready to play Susan Sontag in an upcoming biopic. She's also working on directing her first film, The Chronology of Water.
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Mey Rude

Mey Rude is a journalist and cultural critic who has been covering queer news for a decade. The transgender, Latina lesbian lives in Los Angeles with her fiancée.

Mey Rude is a journalist and cultural critic who has been covering queer news for a decade. The transgender, Latina lesbian lives in Los Angeles with her fiancée.