Though British GQ’s October cover star, John Boyega is known for his roles in films and series like “Attack the Block,” “Detroit” and the “Star Wars” sequel trilogy, the British-Nigerian actor made headlines earlier this year after delivering an impromptu and heartfelt speech at a Black Lives Matter protest in London.
That impassioned speech he gave at the protest opened the doors for him to take a stand against systemic racism in Hollywood.
Speaking with British GQ as the magazine’s October 2020 cover star, John Boyega said it was necessary for him to break the wall of “professionalism” and deliver the speech from his heart. But this wasn’t the only thing John Boyega shared in his British GQ cover. Read on to find out more.
Here are 3 things John Boyega shared on systemic racism, Star Wars and Black Lives Matter…
#1. On sidelining actors of colour, he gave Disney a necessary advice
Disney has a long existing track record of promoting movies and shows using people of color and sidelining them in the actual product. John Boyega isn’t having any of that anymore. He had this to say to multi-billion dollar company, Disney; “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,” he told GQ. “It’s not good. I’ll say it straight up.”
Boyega explained that while Disney “knew what to do” with The Rise of Skywalker’s white characters like Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley, he felt the franchise sidelined Kelly Marie Tran, himself and other non-white actors.
#2. The constant harassment John Boyega and his family faced at the hands of the police in London led to his impassioned speech
John Boyega was born in London to immigrant Nigerian parents. Things were not so rosy for he and his family as they were constantly profiled by the police. They even had their door broken down at a point. He was ready to put down his celebrity shield at that point because no matter whatever status he had attained, he was still a black man.
“I feel like — especially as celebrities — we have to talk through this filter of professionalism and emotional intelligence,” he told the British GQ.
“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.”
His vulnerability, he said, came from seeing other Black people’s emotions during the protest.
#3. A hostage situation he faced 8 years ago shaped his high-attitude towards pressure
We’ve probably wondered why John reacts the way he does when he is cornered or challenged or merely required to stand up and be counted on. It is because of an experience he encountered eight years ago while shooting the famed movie “Half of a yellow sun.” He had boarded a wrong boat back to the island where production was taking place in Calabar, Nigeria. According to John, the boat captain cut the engine, turned his attention to Boyega and said simply: ‘if Boyega wanted him to start the engine again, then he needed to hand over some more money.’
“I felt very fearful,” says Boyega,
“But I think it was the first time that I went into fight-or-flight mode and was just like, ‘OK, well, both of us are going to die today, then, because I’m definitely not going to back down.’ I told him, ‘I’m going to pay you the money that’s owed, but we’ll both be dying in the sea here if you think I’m going out like this or that you can get more from me.’”
Check out more photos from John Byoega’s British GQ feature…
Read his full British GQ cover story here.
Images: British GQ
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