John Boyega says it’s no secret that Disney gave “all the nuance” in the latest “Star Wars” trilogy to its white stars –including Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver — over its actors of color including Kelly Marie Tran, Oscar Isaac, Naomi Ackie and himself.
Boyega made his bold statement in an interview with British GQ — his first since “The Rise of Skywalker.” The actor said he challenged the studio to not let his Black character get pushed to the side after being marketed as more significant than he actually was.
“You get yourself involved in projects and you’re not necessarily going to like everything,” Boyega told the magazine. “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.”
“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— 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.”
Boyega still does say that the “Star Wars” franchise was an “amazing opportunity” and a “stepping stone” to more things in his career, and he even defended J.J. Abrams’ direction of “The Rise of Skywalker.” But he acknowledged that there’s systemic mistreatment of Black characters in blockbusters, saying that, “They’re always scared. They’re always fricking sweating.” He also added that he overexposed himself when he made multiple projects at once, including “Pacific Rim: Uprising,” “Detroit” and “The Last Jedi.”
“That was a weird time, man,” he said. “I took on too much work, basically. There was a lot going on; a lot of noise and a negative vibe. I just overshot it and really took the mickey out of myself by not having enough of a break [between projects].”
Boyega also in his interview addressed his recent inspiring and impromptu speech he gave at the protests for George Floyd earlier this summer, in which he wondered mid-speech if he’d even still have a career after he spoke out with such passion.
“I feel like, especially as celebrities, we have to talk through this filter of professionalism and emotional intelligence,” Boyega said. “Sometimes you just need to be mad. You need to lay down what it is that’s on your mind. Sometimes you don’t have enough time to play the game.”
Check out the full profile of Boyega over at British GQ.