John Boyega Talks Representation in the Media, ‘I Ain’t Paying Money to Always See One Type of Person On-Screen’
In a recent photoshoot and interview with GQ, John Boyega talked Star Wars, representation in the media, getting advice from J.J. Abrams and Robert Downey Jr, and staying sane as a celebrity.
When he was first cast as a Stormtrooper, John Boyega wasn’t aware of how central to the storyline he’d end up being:
“I thought they were going to keep Stormtroopers taking helmets off a mystery for a while, “I thought they were going to hold that back, but they put you bang right in the middle of the narrative.”
Of course we were famously introduced to his character Finn in the middle of the desert; hot, bothered and out of breath as he popped up from the bottom of the screen. And that opened up the Pandora’s Box of the celebrity lifestyle for Boyega, an inevitability that he was prepared for more than most; he asked his agent to talk to Downey Jr’s agent for a meeting; to get a crash course on “how to stay stable” Boyega says, “It was time for me to sit down with someone who’s been through the extremes of Hollywood”.
When he was cast, Abrams advised Boyega on what he could expect being the next generation’s face of Star Wars:
“The job isn’t just to be an actor in a movie when you’re doing something like Star Wars. It’s a significant lifetime commitment to this thing. Don’t get drunk on the fun of the moment. It could be an enormous burden.”
Given all that, Boyega’s rise correlates with the demand for greater representation on-screen from the viewing audience. Boyega has strong views on the lack of representation in culturally significant science fiction fantasy, “there are no black people on Game of Thrones,” Boyega says. “You don’t see one black person in Lord of the Rings.” He is absolutely right about Lord of the Rings, and Game of Thrones has a few black characters yet they are largely insignificant in the overarching narrative of the show. Boyega continues:
“I ain’t paying money to always see one type of person on-screen,” says Boyega. “Because you see different people from different backgrounds, different cultures, every day. Even if you’re a racist, you have to live with that. We can ruffle up some feathers.”
John Boyega is not alone in saying that, representation in the media is a hot topic; in every casting call, every role and every story; people are saying to accurately represent the stories you are telling or don’t tell them at all. We are in a golden age of entertainment, there are more alternatives now than ever, which is maybe why the big media conglomerates are finally changing their tune.
Source: GQ Magazine