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‘We Come In Just to Work’: John Boyega Says Pitting Black Actors Against Brits Is ‘Petty and Weak’

John Boyega wants no parts of the conversation surrounding the notion that British actors are offered more roles in the U.S. than their American peers.

During his Friday, Sept. 16, appearance on “The Breakfast Club,” the British star said that he felt pitting the two groups together was senseless and that both parties should instead make room for an actual conversation.  

“I think number one, the first approach is to listen to each other because there might be a perspective that we are missing, right, coming into the game,” the 30-year-old actor expressed around the 28-minute mark of the interview. 

He continued, “We are not coming into the game to steal anything. In fact, it’s impossible to steal a role, by the way. Roles are only offered. So, we come in just to work, but sometimes you don’t know whose toes you’re stepping in if you don’t actually listen to the people and the folks that are on the ground to tell you.”

Many of Boyega’s British peers have weighed in on the debate, with similar sentiments, since it first started gaining attention in 2017 after Samuel L. Jackson faced criticisms over Daniel Kaluuya’s casting in Jordan Peele’s feature film debut, “Get Out.” 

At the time, Jackson told HOT 97’s Ebro Darden, “There are a lot of black British actors in these movies. I tend to wonder what that movie would have been with an American brother who really feels that.” He added, “Daniel grew up in a country where they’ve been interracial dating for a hundred years. What would a brother from America have made of that role? Some things are universal, but everything ain’t.”

Kaluuya’s performance earned him his first Academy Awards nomination in 2018 for Best Actor, which went to veteran actor Gary Oldman for his role as Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour.” 

Figures like Idris ElbaDamson Idris and even American actress Regina King have vouched to defend her decision to cast British actor Kingsley Ben-Adir as Malcolm X and Canadian star Eli Goree as Muhammad Ali in her film “One Night in Miami.”

“Sure, neither one of them are American. But can they relate to the experience and the pain felt by a Black person for being disregarded just because of the color of your skin? Absolutely, they can,” she told reporters during a BAFTA Masterclass in London, England, last year.   

She continued, “Can they take it upon themselves to make sure they educate themselves on the ways it’s specific to America in the history of how black Americans had built this country; it was built on the bodies of black Americans? They can definitely educate themselves on that, and they did.”

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