Yesterday, John Boyega gave a moving speech at the Black Lives Matter march in London. Within it, he acknowledged that his activism might cost him his career.
That might sound odd, considering the English star is a hot commodity, between headlining two franchises (Star Wars and Pacific Rim), the accolades he’s received from critics for his powerful performances, and the love he’s received from audiences because of his awe-striking charisma. However, a Black actor has it hard enough in an industry where “white hero” is the default in film and television. Add to that how Boyega employs his platform to challenge systems of white supremacy and anti-black racism, his politics might turn off some audiences who just want him to smile and be fun. His plea for valuing Black lives as much as police value white ones might be too controversial. He might be viewed as “difficult” or “box office poison.” Boyega didn’t expand on why his career might be hurt, because he doesn’t have to. Fans who told the Star Wars hero not to swear and not to express things like “I really f*cking hate racists” said it all. However, this actor and activist need not fear for his career, because a swell of creatives in film and TV rose up to support him on Twitter.
It began with Matthew A. Cherry, Academy Award-winning producer of Hair Love, BlacKkKlansman, and The Last O.G., who called for Non-Black writers and directors to promise their professional support of Boyega.
I would work with John Boyega and I urge other Non-Black creators to affirm that they have his back as well. https://t.co/SqXgmIS5aR— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) June 3, 2020
Cherry noted he wasn’t worried about Boyega being blackballed by Black creators.
And I also know it’s not us that would try and black ball him either.— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) June 3, 2020
A flood of responses of support came in, including those listed below.
We got you, John. https://t.co/oX7Rr52omx— Jordan Peele (@JordanPeele) June 3, 2020
Edgar Wright, who executive produced Attack the Block, Boyega’s film debut.
Have before and would again, in a heartbeat. So proud of John today. https://t.co/qLi4cwws2i— edgarwright (@edgarwright) June 3, 2020
Rodney Rothman and Peter Ramsey, Academy Award-winning co-directors of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
I have something great I would offer him today. Tell yer agents man.— rodneyrothman (@rodneyrothman) June 3, 2020
Phil Lord and Chris Miller, co-directors of 21 Jump Street, 22 Jump Street, and The LEGO Movie.
Be proud to. And lucky. https://t.co/qg4sERvX3U— Phil Lord is wearing a mask on his determined face (@philiplord) June 3, 2020
Yup!— Christopher Miller (@chrizmillr) June 3, 2020
Sarah Adina Smith, director of The Midnight Swim and Buster’s Mal Heart.
Jon Hurwitz, co-writer/co-director of Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay.
I would absolutely work with John Boyega. In addition to his talent, I respect his intelligence, conviction, and fearlessness — all traits that will serve him well in the eyes of most filmmakers. https://t.co/35VoFXEwr0— Jon Hurwitz (@jonhurwitz) June 3, 2020
Jack Thorne, writer on TV’s The Eddy and His Dark Materials.
Duncan Jones, director of Moon, Source Code and Mute.
Crazy that it even needs to be said, but of course!— Duncan Jones (@ManMadeMoon) June 3, 2020
I mean… he’s from Peckham and I’m from Bromley, but even so, I’ve STILL got his back! ❤️ https://t.co/5kXugkFt2u
Bruce Miller, executive producer of TV’s The Handmaid’s Tale.
So say we all. https://t.co/F1nk4FrKJ9— Bruce Miller (@BrooseMiller) June 3, 2020
Brian Lynch, writer of Minions, Puss in Boots and The Secret Life of Pets.
In a heartbeat. https://t.co/KrJKvOXrrx— Brian Lynch (@BrianLynch) June 3, 2020
Charlie Brooker, creator of Black Mirror.
I would crawl through a barrel of broken glass to have John Boyega even so much as *glance* at one of my scripts. https://t.co/0bcLeldaEg— Charlie Brooker (@charltonbrooker) June 3, 2020
Jonathan Levine, director of The Wackness, Warm Bodies and Long Shot.
I've tried! he keeps passing! but I'll keep trying! https://t.co/Xy2Gf8vcxf— jonathan levine (@jonathanalevine) June 3, 2020
Olivia Wilde, director of Booksmart.
👋🏻 Would be honored https://t.co/CRu54idTlG— Elizabeth Banks (@ElizabethBanks) June 3, 2020
Greg Pak, comic book writer and writer/director of Robot Stories.
If I’m lucky enough to write and/or direct another movie or two, I would be over the moon for the chance to work with John Boyega. https://t.co/GtKgPfIRa3— Greg Pak (@gregpak) June 3, 2020
Liz Hannah, producer of Mindhunter,, co-writer of Long Shot.
I would be fortunate to do so. https://t.co/b4cDPSsELD— Liz Hannah (@itslizhannah) June 3, 2020
In a heartbeat. For any project. https://t.co/K85UKa37ig— Jeremy Slater (@jerslater) June 3, 2020
Richard Shepard, director of Dom Hemingway and The Perfection.
100%. Would be thrilled to work with him. https://t.co/UPJ6eCLr4O— Richard Shepard (@SaltyShep) June 3, 2020
Gennifer Hutchison, writer of TV’s Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul and Amazon’s upcoming Lord of the Rings series.
I would absolutely cast John Boyega if I'm ever in a position to. I should be so lucky he'd actually accept. https://t.co/ufsUJSH3tO— Gennifer Hutchison (@GennHutchison) June 3, 2020
Craig Mazin, writer on TV’s Chernobyl and the upcoming The Last of Us.
Terrific actor exercising his human right to protest injustice. I’d work with him for sure. https://t.co/BDIMIN9x9v— Craig Mazin (@clmazin) June 3, 2020
LaToya Morgan, writer on TV’s Into the Badlands, The Walking Dead and the upcoming Duster.
Hey @JohnBoyega I would love to work with you and would hire you in a heartbeat. You don’t have to worry. We got you!! Keep going!— LaToya Morgan (@MorganicInk) June 3, 2020
John if you’re reading this, work with me first. If things don’t work out, then give Seth a shot. Super!— rob delaney (@robdelaney) June 3, 2020
Nina Jacobson, producer of The Hunger Games movies and Crazy Rich Asians.
Absolutely— nina jacobson (@ninajacobson) June 3, 2020
Thurop Van Orman, creator of the cartoon series The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack.
A million percent❤️— Thurop Van Orman (@littlethurop) June 3, 2020
Kat Candler, director of TV’s Queen Sugar, Dirty John and Home Before Dark.
It's been a dream since IMPERIAL DREAMS and ATTACK THE BLOCK.— Kat Candler (@katcandler) June 3, 2020
Bill Lawrence, creator of Scrubs.
Oh, hell yes. Pretty please.— Bill Lawrence (@VDOOZER) June 3, 2020
Cathy Yan, director of Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn.
I would love to work w John Boyega https://t.co/zQTIP29SVR— Cathy Yan (@CathyYan) June 3, 2020
Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the Broadway smash Hamilton.
Oh god I WISH, Ojalá! From Attack The Block to this day! pic.twitter.com/sB7eJqF0sy— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) June 3, 2020
My hand is up high. It would be an honor to work with John. https://t.co/Ga4QWN5VPu— Paul Feig (@paulfeig) June 4, 2020
Mark Hamill didn't respond directly to Cherry. However, Boyega's Star Wars co-star did share this.
I would work with John Boyega anytime, and I’d consider myself lucky to do so. https://t.co/l3eRnpsXUv— Mike Flanagan (@flanaganfilm) June 4, 2020
There are many, many more tweets like these. Then, there’s this one.
While the Stars Wars movies have been steeped in political subtext for decades, the brand has been solidly apolitical, likely so as not to alienate any fans. Even though Boyega’s completed his trilogy with the franchise, the Star Wars brand stands by him and shares a link to his full Black Lives Matter march speech.
Here it is.
Boyega will continue to thrive in his career. Now, let’s get back to focusing on making sure he can exist while Black without being murdered by police brutality.
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