Ever since it was announced that John Boyega would be playing a stormtrooper in the mega-successful Star Wars franchise, he has had to directly deal with racism both in and outside of the industry. Recently, he opened up about his experience from beginning to end.
From the inside, Boyega explained how he would get just by stylists on set for some of his fashion choices. He also wasn’t provided with someone as simple as a hairstylist who knows how to cut Black hair.
He explained to British GQ how his own experience could help someone after him.
‘I’m the only cast member who had their own unique experience of that franchise based on their race. Let’s just leave it like that. 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.’ 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.’
Although John went into it with excitement and bright eyes, the constant attacks from fans of the franchise and the microaggressions of some of the people he worked with eventually tore him down.
Boyega spoke with Comic Book during the press run for The Rise of Skywalker where it was apparent he’s had some sort of a change of heart.
‘After Star Wars, that’s when the check clears. Life after Star Wars is about to be lit. It’s bittersweet because of the connections we made on set, the amazing people, important people to my life specifically Oscar [Issac] and Daisy [Ridley]. Now, I’m ready to see our relationships grow and flourish in the real world.’
It’s unfortunate that while the actor was giving so many people hope and a feeling of representation — his personal experience has so many negative memories to go along with the positive. However, it’s important for him to share these things so that the industry can listen and learn from it while making it a more inclusive environment for everyone.