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John Boyega's Black Lives Matter Activism Will Not End His Career, Hollywood Promises

By Kristy Puchko | Politics | June 4, 2020 |

By Kristy Puchko | Politics | June 4, 2020 |


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.

Cherry noted he wasn’t worried about Boyega being blackballed by Black creators.

A flood of responses of support came in, including those listed below.

Jordan Peele, heralded writer/director of Get Out and Us.

Edgar Wright, who executive produced Attack the Block, Boyega’s film debut.

Rodney Rothman and Peter Ramsey, Academy Award-winning co-directors of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

Phil Lord and Chris Miller, co-directors of 21 Jump Street, 22 Jump Street, and The LEGO Movie.

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.

Jack Thorne, writer on TV’s The Eddy and His Dark Materials.

Duncan Jones, director of Moon, Source Code and Mute.

Bruce Miller, executive producer of TV’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

Brian Lynch, writer of Minions, Puss in Boots and The Secret Life of Pets.

Charlie Brooker, creator of Black Mirror.

Jonathan Levine, director of The Wackness, Warm Bodies and Long Shot.

Olivia Wilde, director of Booksmart.

Elizabeth Banks, director of Pitch Perfect 2 and Charlie’s Angels.

Greg Pak, comic book writer and writer/director of Robot Stories.

Liz Hannah, producer of Mindhunter,, co-writer of Long Shot.

Jeremy Slater, writer of Fantastic Four, Death Note and The Umbrella Academy.

Richard Shepard, director of Dom Hemingway and The Perfection.

Gennifer Hutchison, writer of TV’s Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul and Amazon’s upcoming Lord of the Rings series.

Craig Mazin, writer on TV’s Chernobyl and the upcoming The Last of Us.

LaToya Morgan, writer on TV’s Into the Badlands, The Walking Dead and the upcoming Duster.

Seth Grahame-Smith, producer of It Chapter Two and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and Rob Delaney, writer/star of TV’s Catastrophe.

Nina Jacobson, producer of The Hunger Games movies and Crazy Rich Asians.

Thurop Van Orman, creator of the cartoon series The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack.

Kat Candler, director of TV’s Queen Sugar, Dirty John and Home Before Dark.

Bill Lawrence, creator of Scrubs.

Cathy Yan, director of Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the Broadway smash Hamilton.

Paul Feig, the director of Bridesmaids, Spy and Ghostbusters.

Peyton Reed, director of Ant-Man and Ant-Man And The Wasp.

Mike Flanagan, writer/director of The Haunting of Hill House, Gerald’s Game and Doctor Sleep.

Mark Hamill didn't respond directly to Cherry. However, Boyega's Star Wars co-star did share this.

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.

Kristy Puchko is the film editor of Pajiba. You can follow her on Twitter.

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