Earlier this year Star Wars alum John Boyega opened up about his experience with the sci-fi franchise, expressing frustrations on how Disney and Lucasfilm pushed aside the sequels’ BIPOC characters, including Boyega’s Finn, Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico, Naomi Ackie’s Jannah, and Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron. In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Boyega discussed the importance of speaking up and how his public criticism led to an unplanned conversation with Disney executives.
“It was a very honest, a very transparent conversation,” said Boyega. “There was a lot of explaining on their end in terms of the way they saw things. They gave me a chance also to explain what my experience was like. 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,” he continued.
Boyega added that his experience is what ultimately inspired him to create his own production company, UpperRoom Productions. The company has signed a slate deal with Netflix “to produce non-English-language films from West and East Africa.”
“With my acting career and with my earned privilege I’m just trying to use that to expand the opportunity, much like what we experienced with coming on set [on Small Axe],” he said. “We were really shocked to be surrounded by Black individuals, people that otherwise I would never see on a film set.”
Back in September during an interview with GQ, Boyega shared: “You get yourself involved in projects and you’re not necessarily going to like everything. [But] 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.”
He continued, “Like, 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 f*ck 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. They gave all the nuance to Adam Driver, all the nuance to Daisy Ridley. Let’s be honest. Daisy knows this. Adam knows this. Everybody knows. I’m not exposing anything.”
Since The Skywalker Saga concluded last year, some of the film’s cast has been very vocal about their disappointment with their characters’ development throughout the latest trilogy. Boyega is also not the first actor in the sequel trilogy to confirm they are done with the Disney-owned franchise, with Oscar Isaac (Dune) shooting down the possibility of ever returning as Poe Dameron in future projects.
(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)