John Boyega: I’ve met Americans who don’t know black people live in London

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The Star Wars actor John Boyega says he has met Americans who are not aware there are black people living in London, and believes the under-representation of the black British experience in popular culture fuels such ignorance.

Boyega made the comments in a Radio Times interview where he discussed his future plans to create work about black life in Britain, partly as a result of having to explain to Americans that black Londoners exist while promoting his 2011 breakthrough film Attack the Block.

He said: “I’m black British and I’m from London. And that in itself is something that the world doesn’t know about yet. I met American people – civilians of a first-world country – who were confused that there were black people in London.

“That’s why entertainment is so special, it’s a great chance to bring people together and open them up to things they haven’t seen before.”

Boyega, who became one of the world’s most high-profile young actors after he was cast in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, said he started his own production company – UpperRoom Entertainment – in order to retain more creative control over his future projects and emulate the film’s director, JJ Abrams, who cast him.

Next year the actor will star in Steve McQueen’s forthcoming BBC series Small Axe, which follows a group in London’s African-Caribbean community from the late 1960s to the early 80s. Boyega will play Leroy Logan, one of the first black Met police officers.

Boyega had to go through a seven-month audition process before he secured the part of Finn in Abrams’ Star Wars trilogy. The third film, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, is out this month and earlier this year Boyega admitted to losing his script, which ended up on eBay, before being reclaimed by Disney.

Written by: Lanre Bakare

First published 05.12.19:


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