The recipient of NairaGent’s 2020 NairaGent Person Of The Year, John Boyega, stood up against racial injustice and used his platform to uplift the black community, no matter what the consequences.
In September, the British actor – who played Finn in Disney’s sequel trilogy – criticised the franchise and claimed that white characters were given more nuance and attention than his or Asian-American actor Kelly Marie Tran’s character.
“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 said. “It’s not good.”
In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Boyega revealed that he was contacted by a Disney executive after his comments were published, with the pair engaging in a “very honest, very transparent conversation”.
“There was a lot of explaining on their end in terms of the way they saw things,” Boyega explained. “They gave me a chance also to explain what my experience was like.”
Speaking about his decision to directly call out Disney, Boyega said that he hoped him using his platform at the peak of his career would cause other people in the industry to have an “honest and open conversation”.
“I’ve been in situations in life in which I know what it feels like to have your life at risk. There are deeper things going on here. I don’t care about trying to mesh in with the system in order to secretly work it,” he said.
“I’d hope that me being so open with my career, at this stage, would help the next man, the guy that wants to be the assistant DOP, the guy that wants to be a producer. I hope that the conversation is not such a taboo or elephant in the room now, because someone just came and said it.”
George Floyd Murder
Nigerian-British John Boyega, known for his leading role in the Star Wars movies, thanked his fans after an emotional speech he made on race — following the police killing of black man, George Floyd, — went viral last week.
In the wake of Floyd’s killing, the four officers involved in the incident were fired, and people, including the mayor of Minneapolis, have called for them to face criminal charges. Floyd’s death has sparked clashes between police and protesters in Minneapolis.
Star Wars actor John Boyega took to social media to call out racism and mourn for George Floyd, the man who died after a Minneapolis police officer was filmed weighing down on him with a knee on his neck as he gasped for air.
“This just burns. Seems to be a never ending cycle. The murderers need to be charged severely. Even in the face of death this man was given zero empathy,” Boyega posted on Twitter on Wednesday, with the hashtags “#RIPGeorgeFloyd #BlackLivesMatter #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd.”
“I really f-cking hate racists,” Boyega tweeted a few minutes later. That post racked up over 1.3 million likes as of Thursday morning, with some people taking issue with Boyega’s language.
“Hate [is] a strong word,” one user wrote in response, “[W]e can’t conquer hatred with hatred. We rather say we hate their attitude.” Boyega replied, “I said what I said. Speak for yourself at all times x.”
His words garnered many comments from supporters, as well as detractors. Boyega responded to many of them clarifying his positions and calling out people who disagreed with him and reminding people offended by his language that this was his personal account. “I am not here for the kids,” he tweeted.
Later, in an Instagram Live video containing explicit language, shared on Twitter, Boyega confirmed his beliefs, saying again: “I hate racists with a passion.”
John Boyega: 2020 NairaGent Person Of The Year
“It’s made me fully motivated to make sure I fulfil this title, [with] what we do for other people and inspiring other people” John Boyega said. “Thank you for noticing me doing that, because now, in many senses, I feel fully motivated to continue doing it. And I will.” We have no doubts about it.”