‘Star Wars’ Star John Boyega Cuts Ties With British Fragrance Brand Jo Malone Over Racial Inequality

John Boyega has been very vocal lately about the unfair treatment that actors of color are receiving from Disney. In addition to this, the actor recently cut ties with a major brand because of an unauthorized change to an ad campaign he created. Boyega’s involvement in the BLM movement has fans singing his praises, and the young star continues to be a voice for change

Who is John Boyega?

John Boyega at the EE British Academy Film Awards
John Boyega at the EE British Academy Film Awards | Wiktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto

Boyega is a British actor who is best known for his role as Finn in Episodes 7, 8, and 9 of the Star Wars films. He developed a passion for acting at a young age and became involved with the Theatre Peckham. He graduated from South Thames College with a Performing Arts diploma. His roles in college included the lead in a production of Othello

Boyega continued to hone his acting skills by studying at the Identity School of Acting. He appeared in Category B and Six Parties. In 2011, he starred in the film Attack the Block, for which he received a Black Reel Award for Best Actor. He was also nominated for an Empire Award and a London Film Critic’s Circle Award. 

What happened with Jo Malone?

Boyega worked closely with British fragrance brand Jo Malone. He was named their first male global ambassador last year. During his time working with their company, he helped them develop a short film to launch the ad campaign that he conceptualized. 

Unfortunately, when Jo Malone launched their campaign in China, they replaced Boyega with a local brand ambassador. They did this without his knowledge or consent, which angered the actor. The original film was shot in his hometown and was meant to be a representation of his culture. It featured several of his friends and family. 

The revamped short film created for the Chinese market featured a local actor and completely replaced the footage of Boyega’s neighborhood, friends, and family. Instead, they shot footage local to China. Via Twitter, Boyega explained his reasons for cutting ties with the brand.

“While many brands understandably use a variety of global and local ambassadors, dismissively trading out one’s culture this way is not something I can condone,” Boyega tweeted. “It’s back to back but I assure you this will be dealt with swiftly. I don’t have time for nonsense. We press on and strong. Stay blessed people.”

The fragrance brand responded quickly to the situation, saying that they respected Boyega greatly. “We deeply apologize for what, on our end, was a mistake in the local execution of the John Boyega campaign. John is a tremendous artist with great personal vision and direction. The concept for the film was based on John’s personal experiences and should not have been replicated.”

Jo Malone went on to say that the Chinese version of the ad campaign had been removed and that they had accepted Boyega’s resignation. 

Is Boyega having problems with Disney? 

RELATED: ‘Star Wars’ Star John Boyega Slams Disney For Sidelining Finn

Boyega recently called out Disney for treating actors of color in an inferior manner. He claims that the white stars are treated noticeably better than the others, and accused them of sidelining his Star Wars character. 

Boyega claims that Disney introduced Finn as a major part of the Star Wars franchise in The Force Awakens, only to demote him to a role of much lesser importance in the following two films. He suspects that Disney used him in The Force Awakens to appeal to a wider audience. He also claims that Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley’s characters enjoyed further character development as the films progressed, while his character never developed beyond the first film. 

When Boyega was originally cast for the role of Finn, a stormtrooper, the internet was in an uproar. Several racist threads began on social media, condemning Disney for casting a Black stormtrooper. People were boycotting the film, simply because of the casting choice.

In an interview with GQ, Boyega recalled how no one else received this backlash: “Nobody else in the cast had people saying they were going to boycott the movie because [they were in it]. Nobody else had the uproar and death threats sent to their Instagram DMs and social media, saying, ‘Black this and black that and you shouldn’t be a Stormtrooper…”

Fans are very proud of the way Boyega has spoken out against these injustices and the way he is raising awareness through his involvement with the Black Lives Matter movement. The incredible actor has assured his fans and other victims of racial injustice that he will continue to speak out against unfair treatment, and that he greatly values their support.