John Boyega has called on film studios to offer more support to actors in major franchises who suffer racist abuse from fans.
The former Star Wars actor – who spoke earlier this year about the racist abuse he faced from certain fans of the sci-fi saga – has said he believes studios should “lend their voice” to help actors who endure this type of prejudice.
He told Variety: “When one of your actors, especially an actor that’s so prominent in the story, is announced as part of your franchise and then it has a big racial backlash and receives abuse online and that starts to form a shadow on what is supposed to be an amazing gift, it is important for the studios to definitely lend their voice, lend their support to that and to have a sense of solidarity.”
“Not just in the public eye, but on the ground on set,” John added.
In a candid interview with GQ published in September, the Small Axe actor recalled how racist abuse from Star Wars fans had tainted his experience of being part of the franchise.
“Nobody else in the cast had people saying they were going to boycott the movie because [they were in it],” he explained.
“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.”
He also spoke about how he felt his character was “pushed to the side” by Disney after The Force Awakens, stating: “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. It’s not good. I’ll say it straight up.
“You guys knew what to do with Daisy Ridley, you knew what to do with Adam Driver. You knew what to do with these other people, but when it came to Kelly Marie Tran, when it came to John Boyega, you know fuck all.
“So what do you want me to say? What they want you to say is, ‘I enjoyed being a part of it. It was a great experience...’ Nah, nah, nah. I’ll take that deal when it’s a great experience.”
His comments come as Lashana Lynch – who is set to join the James Bond franchise in the upcoming film No Time To Die – has revealed she has already been targeted by fans of the spy series because of her race.
“I am one Black woman – if it were another Black woman cast in the role, it would have been the same conversation, she would have got the same attacks, the same abuse,” she told Harper’s Bazaar.
“I just have to remind myself that the conversation is happening and that I’m a part of something that will be very, very revolutionary.”
Lashana plays Nomi in No Time To Die, a new secret agent who takes over from James Bond as 007.
Read Lashana’s full interview in the December issue of Harper’s Bazaar, on sale now.