John Boyega called out Disney for the treatment of his character and other people of color in the Star Wars franchise in a new feature for British GQ.
In the incredibly candid interview, Boyega gave advice to Disney after botching his character, Finn. “You get yourself involved in projects and you’re not necessarily going to like everything. [But] what I would say to Disney is do not bring out a black character, market them to be much more important in the franchise than they are and then have them pushed to the side. It’s not good. I’ll say it straight up,” said the actor.
He also brought up the treatment of other co-stars like Kelly Marie Tran. “Like, you guys knew what to do with Daisy Ridley, you knew what to do with Adam Driver,” he continued. “You knew what to do with these other people, but when it came to Kelly Marie Tran, when it came to John Boyega, you know f**k all. So what do you want me to say? What they want you to say is, ‘I enjoyed being a part of it. It was a great experience…’ Nah, nah, nah. I’ll take that deal when it’s a great experience. They gave all the nuance to Adam Driver, all the nuance to Daisy Ridley. Let’s be honest. Daisy knows this. Adam knows this. Everybody knows. I’m not exposing anything.”
All in all, Boyega believes he is the only cast member who had a unique experience based upon race. “I’m the only cast member who had their own unique experience of that franchise based on their race… It makes you angry with a process like that. It makes you much more militant; it changes you. Because you realize, ‘I got given this opportunity but I’m in an industry that wasn’t even ready for me.’”
Boyega also brought up the racist treatment he received from the fandom. “Nobody else in the cast had people saying they were going to boycott the movie because [they were in it]. Nobody else had the uproar and death threats sent to their Instagram DMs and social media, saying, ‘Black this and black that and you shouldn’t be a Stormtrooper.’ Nobody else had that experience. But yet people are surprised that I’m this way. That’s my frustration.”
Though Star Wars has passed, Boyega’s profile continues to rise as he is a prominent voice in the UK’s Black Lives Matter movement and an advocate for change.
He will be seen soon in Steve McQueen’s Amazon/BBC film anthology series, Small Axe.