John Boyega says there’s been a ‘steady growth’ of diversity in film since Black Lives Matter

Actor said he wants to ‘spread knowledge and opportunities’ to others wanting to enter film and TV

Furvah Shah
Monday 17 October 2022 13:15 BST
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John Boyega has opened up about the state of diversity in film and TV after the killing of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests in 2020.

In an interview with Deadline, the 30-year-old said there has been a “steady growth” of representation, and he feels a responsibility in helping others to progress in the industry.

The Star Wars actor said: “We don’t want to leave this industry the same way we found it and we don’t want to exist in this industry being anything other than ourselves.”

Boyega has previously shared his experiences of being targeted by racists after he was cast inStar Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015, with some urging a boycott of the record-breaking film and sending death threats to the actor.

“I got given this opportunity but I’m in an industry that wasn’t even ready for me. Nobody else in the cast had people saying they were going to boycott the movie because [they were in it],” he said in an interview with GQ.

He has since suggested that he would not return to future Star Wars films due to the backlash, and also claimed that he felt like his character’s role was minimised by Disney as the trilogy went on.

Floyd, a Black man, was killed in an altercation with Minneapolis police in May 2020. A video surfaced that showed police officer Derek Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, prompting global protests. Chauvin was eventually convicted of Floyd’s murder.

At one of the Black Lives Matter protests, Boyega was filmed at giving an impassioned speech about racism. Now, he says there is evidence of more diversity in the industry.

“There’s been steady growth, and each time we grow and get the opportunity to get into more [important] positions, we learn about those positions and about more opportunities for diversity,” he said.

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Boyega added he feels a responsibility to help others due to his experience and understanding, especially as an actor.

He said: “When you get to that stage you learn of the opportunities you have – that you develop certain roles, that you now have access to producers and directors. Then it’s an individual choice of how you spread that knowledge and those opportunities.”

“It’s a good thing that it’s happening to us, especially people of my generation who say, ‘We don’t want to leave this industry the same way we found it and we don’t want to exist in this industry being anything other than ourselves’.

Boyega stars in ‘The Woman King’ alongside Viola Davis
Boyega stars in ‘The Woman King’ alongside Viola Davis (© 2021 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved. **ALL IMAGES ARE PROPERTY OF SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT INC. FOR PROMOTIONAL USE ONLY. SALE, DUPLICATION OR TRANSFER OF THIS MATERIAL IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED.**)

“We have to make it work. We must,” he added.

Boyega can be seen starring in The Woman King alongside Viola Davis and Lashana Lynch. In the action epic, he plays an African monarch protected by an elite, all-women warrior force.

The Woman King is in cinemas now.

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