It’s been pretty well established that the latest Star Wars trilogy fucked over its characters of colour.
The films gave us Finn (John Boyega), a Black Stormtrooper with a conscious, who rebelled against the empire and possessed the ability to wield a lightsaber and the Force; Rose (Kelly Marie Tran), an Asian mechanic and all-time sweetheart; and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), the latinx bicurious hot shot rebel fighter pilot we all needed. But, sadly, none of these characters were ever treated with the justice they deserved.
Boyega’s and Isaac’s roles as Daisy Ridley’s co-leads were effectively written out by the second film and treated like side characters. Tran received so much abuse for even just her character existing that she was forced to delete her social media accounts. And, let’s not even begin to discuss the heteronormative mess that was J.J. Abrams writing random clones of Finn and Poe as love interests in the final film instead of the v clear homoerotic tension between them that even the actors were pushing for—and would’ve been groundbreaking cinema, let’s be real.
So, justifiably, in his first interview since finishing the modern Star Wars trilogy, Syrup fave John Boyega is calling out Disney for doing “fuck all” with its characters of colour. And, all I have to say is preach king 😤.
In a new interview with GQ, the 28-year-old British-Nigerian actor opened up about his experience with racial profiling and systemic racism, before acknowledging the elephant in the room: the way the Star Wars franchised treated him and his fellow colleagues of colour.
In the lead up to the new set of films, Boyega and his non-white co-stars—Isaac, Tran and Naomi Ackie (Jannah)—were marketed as important elements to the Star Wars story but in the actual films, “pushed to the side.”
“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 told GQ. “It’s not good. I’ll say it straight up.”
“Like, you guys knew what to do with Daisy Ridley, you knew what to do with Adam Driver,” Boyega continued. “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.”
“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.”
And, of the main Star Wars films, a quick look at the reaction to the trailers, one thing is clear: “I’m the only cast member whose experience of Star Wars was based on their race.”
“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.”
Give my mans the respect he damn near deserves.
Earlier this year, the Pacific Rim: Rising star took to the streets of London to protest for justice for the Black deaths in police custody. You can watch his inspiring speech below.