John Boyega: ‘I met Americans who didn’t know black people live in London’
Star Wars actor John Boyega says he’s met Americans who don’t realise there are black people living in London.
The 27-year-old, who was brought up in Peckham by British-Nigerian parents, says he thinks such attitudes are fuelled by the under-representation of black UK talent.
He told the Radio Times of his experience while promoting his first film, Attack The Block.
“I’m black British and I’m from London,” he said.
“And that in itself is something that the world doesn’t know about yet. I met American people – civilians of a first-world country – who were confused that there were black people in London.”
After starring in the 2011 sci-fi comedy, Boyega was cast in Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015, following a gruelling seven-month audition process.
He went on to describe why representation in popular culture is so important: “That’s why entertainment is so special, it’s a great chance to bring people together and open them up to things they haven’t seen before.”
Boyega set up his own production company, Upperroom Entertainment Limited, in 2016 which strives to make films that speak for his culture.
He was also keen to emulate Star Wars director JJ Abrams, who set up Bad Robot Productions in 1991, to retain more creative control over his work.
Boyega went on to reprise the lead role of storm trooper Finn in the Star Wars: The Last Jedi in 2017, and will return again in the last film of the Star Wars trilogy later this year.
Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker is out on 19 December. – bbc.com