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John Boyega, the actor who played stormtrooper-turned-hero Finn in the new Star Wars trilogy, gave a candid interview earlier this year about his experience working on the franchise. It wasn't without criticism, which is a bit of a rarity among AAA actors and large entertainment properties. "What they want you to say is, ‘I enjoyed being a part of it. It was a great experience ...’ Nah, nah, nah," the actor said at the time. "I’ll take that deal when it’s a great experience."
Now, it seems his pointed remarks about his character's treatment — which involved bringing on a Black character only to have him "pushed to the side," Boyega said then — have encouraged a dialogue between the actor and Disney.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Boyega explained that after that interview was published, a Disney executive reached out to him.
"It was a very honest, a very transparent conversation," Boyega said. "There was a lot of explaining on their end in terms of the way they saw things. They gave me a chance also to explain what my experience was like. I'd hope that me being so open with my career, at this stage, would help the next man, the guy that wants to be the assistant DOP, the guy that wants to be a producer. I hope that the conversation is not such a taboo or elephant in the room now, because someone just came and said it."
That "help" Boyega refers to would be passed along to other Black actors and industry members, whom he's been focused on empowering through his recent work and his new production company, UpperRoom Productions — the latter of which already has a deal with Netflix to produce a slate of African films. In his September interview, one of Boyega's most trenchant comments for fans disappointed by Finn's story arc was that Disney's saga "[brings] out a black character, [markets] them to be much more important in the franchise than they are and then [has] them pushed to the side."
Perhaps being vocal about the shortcomings of his experience will help others do the same, ultimately improving the future of genre film and TV by increasing not only its diversity, but the treatment of those diverse voices once they're on board. An "honest" and "transparent conversation" seems like a great step for Star Wars' and Boyega's future.