The Acolyte: Who is Vernestra Rwoh and why is she so important?

Vernestra Rwoh is an established High Republic character who will appear in The Acolyte.

Vernestra in The Acolyte. Image courtesy
Vernestra in The Acolyte. Image courtesy /

Star Wars: The Acolyte is set to introduce many new characters to the franchise, but it is confirmed to feature at least one established character from The High Republic books and comics. This character is Jedi Vernestra Rwoh, played by Rebecca Henderson, who can be seen opening a door in The Acolyte trailer. Here's what to know about Vernestra before The Acolyte's debut.

Vernestra's life before The Acolyte

Vernestra is a Mirialan and a highly gifted Jedi Padawan trained by the renowned Jedi Master Stellan Gios during the High Republic era. She detests the nickname "Vern" and prefers being called Vernestra. Being a prodigy leads to her becoming a Jedi Knight at the age of fifteen, a feat that is rare to accomplish at such a young age.

At the age of sixteen, Vernestra leads her first mission, as seen in the novel A Test of Courage by Justina Ireland. The mission quickly goes awry, forcing Vernestra to rise to the occasion as she works to help and protect a Jedi Padawan named Imri Cantaros, a senator's daughter, an ambassador's son, and a self-aware droid, all while being pursued by the villainous pirates known as Nihil on a jungle moon with acid rain storms.

In addition to being a Jedi Knight, Vernestra becomes a Jedi Master at the age of sixteen when she takes on Imri as her padawan after his master passes away. The way this situation unfolds demonstrates Vernestra's deep sense of compassion. In many ways, her age and inexperience help her better connect to and understand her Padawan, but she also has to learn a great deal about being a teacher on the job.

Vernestra cares a great deal about justice and being true to the values of the Jedi Order. She feels pressure to set a good example, but she is also unafraid to do things her own way, such as modifying her purple lightsaber to turn it into a lightwhip when she chooses to do so. Her lightsaber skills are exemplary, but her piloting skills are less impressive. The number of ships she crashes becomes a running joke in The High Republic.

She may not be a good pilot, but traveling through hyperspace does have a unique and profound effect on Vernestra: It often leads to Force visions for her. These visions are just one of the many ways she is deeply attuned to the Force.

As the Jedi defend the galaxy from the Nihil and other threats, Vernesta takes on many challenging missions, thereby gaining more experience and wisdom and becoming an increasingly integral member of the Jedi Order.

Vernestra during The Acolyte

Vernestra will be about 100 years older in The Acolyte than she is in The High Republic books and comics. While speaking with, showrunner Leslye Headland teased what to expect from Vernestra during her live-action debut:

"I'm just so excited for people to see her in this show because she is so different. She’s very rarely in the mission robes adventuring and dreaming. I think, as the show goes on, you'll understand why. She has seen so much and she is so in-tune and in love with the Force. Here she's much more of a high-ranking official. The other Jedi revere her. I'm just really excited for people to see her in this show and to see the performance."

Seeing Vernestra as a revered elder and high-ranking official instead of a teenage Jedi prodigy will be fascinating. It remains to be seen if she has become a member of the Jedi Council or if she has a different position of authority within the Jedi Order.

Vernestra's connection with and love for the Force remains consistent a century later, but Headland also hints at the toll the years have taken on her, that it's more than age and rank that prevent Vernestra from being the eager Jedi Knight she once was. Part of that toll has been seen in The High Republic books and comics due to the trauma caused by the Nihil and other threats they've unleashed, including the losses Vernestra endured due to the fall of Starlight Beacon.

During an interview with Collider, Headland further explained why she chose to use Vernestra in the story, and how she ties into exploring the Jedi Order as an institution. Read Headland's explanation below:

"Vern was a character that really jumped out at me immediately as someone that I wanted to see as an arc for where we were with the Jedi when we come into this story. A character that started out as a prodigy, someone powerfully connected to the Force, almost in love with the Force, but also sassy enough to make her lightsaber into a whip. Someone [with] that experimentation, that energy, and then to see who she is in our show, and see what happens over the course of becoming a more and more powerful Jedi, and going from mission after mission, to council meetings, and protocol, and how do we keep this institution going, how do we check it, how do we negotiate the level of power that we have. She's massively respected, and considered to be one of the most powerful Jedi at this particular time period."

This is a compelling and complex trajectory for Vernestra. She becomes respected and embodies the best of the Jedi while also gradually being weighed down by aspects of the Jedi Order, aspects that will likely contribute to the beginning of their downfall and the reemergence of dark side users.

While Vernestra appears and is mentioned in many of The High Republic books and comics, these are the stories we recommend checking out to follow her journey before The Acolyte's two-episode premiere on June 4.

Book Title


A Test of Courage

Justina Ireland

Race to Crashpoint Tower

Daniel José Older

Out of the Shadows

Justina Ireland

Mission to Disaster

Justina Ireland

Defy the Storm

Tessa Gratton and Justina Ireland

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