Oscar-winning directors and Hollywood heavyweights have pledged to protect the career of Star Wars actor John Boyega, after the star said his stance on racial injustice might cost him his place in the entertainment industry.
Speaking at a London protest on Wednesday, Boyega demanded justice for George Floyd, the black man who died in Minneapolis last week after a white police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.
“Black lives have always mattered,” he said.
“We have always been important. We have always meant something, we have always succeeded, regardless.
“And now is the time. I ain’t waiting.”
With tears in his eyes, the 28-year-old told the crowd, “I’m speaking to you from the heart.
“I don’t know if I’m going to have a career after this, but fuck that.”
His speech spread further than a London park, with thousands echoing his words on social media.
Among them: Get Out and Us mastermind Jordan Peele, who said he has Boyega’s back.
We got you, John. https://t.co/oX7Rr52omx
— Jordan Peele (@JordanPeele) June 3, 2020
Franklin Leonard – the film executive behind The Black List, Hollywood’s annual survey of the most popular unproduced film scripts – added his voice to the choir.
— Franklin Leonard (@franklinleonard) June 3, 2020
Matthew A. Cherry, who won an Oscar this year for his short film Hair Love, voiced his support – and urged other creatives to back Boyega, too.
I would work with John Boyega and I urge other Non-Black creators to affirm that they have his back as well. https://t.co/SqXgmIS5aR
— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) June 3, 2020
Steven DeKnight, who directed Boyega in Pacific Rim: Uprising, used the opportunity to recommend his services to Birds of Prey director Cathy Yan.
You would have a blast, @CathyYan. @JohnBoyega was one of the most prepared, talented, and laugh-until-you-cry funny human beings I've ever had the privilege to work with. Highly recommended. https://t.co/2CN5SxtcwK
— Steven DeKnight (@stevendeknight) June 3, 2020
Emily V. Gordon, an Academy Award nominee for her The Big Sick screenplay, also made her opinion known.
It would be a dream to write a role for John Boyega. It was already, and nothing has changed that. https://t.co/B7VeY3gLU2
— Emily V Gordon (@emilyvgordon) June 3, 2020
Star Wars icon Mark Hamill voiced his continuing praise for Boyega, as did the official Star Wars Twitter account.
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) June 3, 2020
— Star Wars (@starwars) June 3, 2020
While Star Wars – and, by extension, Disney, one of the largest entertainment companies on Earth – have joined a cavalcade of brands expressing their solidarity with the Floyd family and the Black Lives Matter movement, corporations have not always been so quick to defend stars who demand racial justice.
Boyega’s assessment of his career is backlit by the treatment of NFL star Colin Kaepernick, who was shunned from the league after his decision to kneel during the national anthem in protest of racial discrimination and police brutality.
You can watch a portion of Boyega’s speech below:Image: Anadolu Agency / Getty Images