A trio of breakout stars shared a #BlackBoyJoy moment during a roundtable when “Lovecraft Country” star Jonathan Majors, 31, and “Bridgerton” heartthrob Regé-Jean Page, 31, thanked “Star Wars” actor and activist John Boyega, 29, for speaking the truth about his Black experience while working with media powerhouse Disney.
The moment of solidarity took place during “The Hollywood Reporter”s annual Emmy Roundtable. The three actors were joined by Chris Rock and Josh O’Connor for the Drama Actor Roundtable. When asked whether or not he would “do anything differently” or had any advice for the other rising stars present, Boyega reiterated that he was proud to have addressed “the elephant in the room.”
“Acting is so unique to your circumstance, even the way you get into it,” he said. “My experience is my experience, and I liked that, at the time, people like Ray Fisher and a few others came out and spoke about their experiences. I think that in itself will begin to effect change, because now there isn’t that elephant in the room. But these brothers don’t need any bloody advice from me.”
In late 2020, Boyega got real about his experience while filming the final chapters of Disney’s massive “Star Wars” saga, in which he portrayed former Stormtrooper-turned-Resistance fighter Finn, accusing Disney of pulling a Black character bait-and-switch by marketing his character as “much more important in the franchise” than he actually was. “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,” he told GQ. “I’ll say it straight up.”
He went on to explain that, unlike his white colleagues, his and other non-white colleagues’ roles weren’t written with the same level of depth, stating “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.”
The “Small Axe” actor expressed that he also had a “unique experience” while working in the franchise all-around because of his race and cited racist backlash against the portrayal of a Black Stormtrooper.
Page and Majors had nothing but gratitude and appreciation for Boyega’s unbridled honesty.
“I think you give more than you think you do,” the “Roots” actor told Boyega. “Like, I’ve already taken a lot from you just in terms of how you carry yourself in public and how you’ve spoken about your journey. Even though you don’t think that you’re giving [advice], know that it’s being received out here. So, I’d throw in a thank you to you, too.”
Majors was similarly touched by the doors that he feels Boyega’s candor has since opened “for anybody coming in behind” him. “John, because you did what you did, you did the job, you did the work, brilliant work, you then spoke about the work, about your process in the work, and that then changed the ecosystem for anybody coming in behind you. That in and of itself is full circle the job of the artist. That experience changed your instrument and therefore changed the entire industry. So, I guess this is a thank you, bro. Thanks for speaking out on all that and thanks for doing your thing. That’s it.”
Boyega also spoke passionately against racism and racial injustice following the death of George Floyd, an act that he thought would get him blacklisted in Hollywood, but instead has catapulted his popularity.