John Boyega has spoken out about the racial inequity in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, suggesting that the white characters were given more nuance and attention.
In an interview with GQ magazine, Boyega – who made headlines earlier this year when he delivered a powerful address to the crowd at a Black Lives Matter protest in London’s Hyde Park – didn’t hold back about the franchise’s shortcomings.
“You get yourself involved in projects and you’re not necessarily going to like everything,” he said. ”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.”
Boyega played the character of reformed stormtrooper Finn in Disney’s Star Wars sequel trilogy.
A central figure in 2015’s The Force Awakens and 2017’s The Last Jedi, Finn was positioned as an apparent love interest for Daisy Ridley’s Rey, but many viewers criticised the character’s marginalised storyline in Rise of Skywalker.
Continuing to address Disney, Boyega said: “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*** 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.”
He added: “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.”
Rise of Skywalker was also criticised for its treatment of Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico, who had enjoyed a sizeable role in The Last Jedi but received just over a minute of screen time in JJ Abram’s poorly recieved follow-up.
Tran was subject to a torrent of racist and sexist abuse online following her acclaimed turn in The Last Jedi, and the minimising of her role in the sequel was interpreted by many as a capitulation to those complaints.