It’s funny how, in a world of supernatural fantasy, skin color can still raise such concerns.
John Boyega, who’s been cast as Finn, the lead in the upcoming Star Wars saga, The Force Awakens, knows that all too well. Ever since word got out that there would be a black stormtrooper, racists began to show their fangs, with some fans of the franchise threatening to boycott the movie. But guess how Boyega feels about the drama? Unbothered. Asked in an interview with the New York Times how that response made him feel, he said:
“It made me feel fine. I’m grounded in who I am, and I am a confident black man. A confident, Nigerian, black, chocolate man. I’m proud of my heritage, and no man can take that away from me. I wasn’t raised to fear people with a difference of opinion. They are merely victims of a disease in their mind. To get into a serious dialogue with people who judge a person based on the melanin in their skin? They’re stupid, and I’m not going to lose sleep over people. The presale tickets have gone through the roof — their agenda has failed. Miserably.
“I just don’t get it. You guys got every single alien in this movie imaginable to man. With tentacles, five eyes. Aliens that, if they existed, we’d definitely have an issue. We’d have to get them to the government and be, like, “What are you?” Yet what you want to do is fixate on another human being’s color. You need to go back to school and unlearn what you have learned. I think Yoda said that, or Obi-Wan.”
Don’t you love him already? The London-bred actor who’s quickly becoming well versed in the differences between achieving fame in the U.K. versus the U.S., which he said is rather “intense,” made it a point to note when he auditioned for the film everyone was being seen for all of the roles. “I would have been suspicious if it was only black people going in for Finn,” he said. “I would have thought, ‘Oh, maybe there’s an active agenda there.'” Now that he knows there’s not, he also doesn’t feel any sort of achievement in increasing the diversity of the Star Wars franchise, which to this point hasn’t featured many black characters.
“I don’t know whether I’m proud or anything. I’m happy that we’re able to mesh together in this ensemble cast and create a wonderful story. It’s Hollywood’s fault, for letting this get so far, that when a black person or a female, or someone from a different cultural group is cast in a movie, we have to have debates as to whether they’re placed there just to meet a [quota]. I also understand, on the flip side, where these other mentalities will arise. ‘He’s just placed there for political correctness.’ I don’t hear you guys saying that when Brad Pitt is there. When Tom Cruise is there. Hell, when Shia LaBeouf is there, you guys ain’t saying that. That is just blatant racism.”