Before John Boyega swashbuckled his way through space in one of the highest grossing movies of all time, he starred in Malik Vitthal’s powerful independent drama, Imperial Dreams. 

Based on the real life story of Bobby “Yay Yay” Jones, Imperial Dreams centers on Bambi (Boyega), a former gang member and convict, who wants to turn his life around and become writer.

Set in the projects in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts, the film follows Bambi as he struggles to break free of his past and set himself, and his family, on a better path.

As a London native Boyega initially didn’t think he would be a good fit for the role because he didn’t know much about Watts. Still he auditioned anyway and turned in a memorable performance that had critics singing his praises.

“Coming from the UK, I didn’t want to disrespect the culture of Watts so I truly had my reservations with taking on that role,” Boyega explained. “But I auditioned via Skype, got the part and spent the next month in Los Angeles soaking up the culture, language and mannerisms.”

Imperial Dreams premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2014 where it won the Best of NEXT Audience Award. It stars Keke Palmer, Anika Noni Rose, Rotimi Akinosho, and Glenn Plummer.

Unfortunately, despite the positive reviews, Vitthal has yet to find a distributor for his film, but with Boyega’s newfound celebrity, perhaps Imperial Dreams will find its way to theaters soon.

In the meantime, watch the trailer below.

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  • Rizzo

    looks interesting. the previews made me think of the movie south central which starred glenn plummer.

    • A.P. Millz-CT

      Loved that movie.

    • Rizzo

      it was a really good movie. i loved it, too.

    • South Central was a great movie with great lessons too.

    • I agree.

  • D1Mind

    High quality black entertainment right there….. Right. Negro hood epic. Just what black folks need more of.

    • bluelight74

      Exactly. ANOTHER hood movie?!

    • CoolChic

      Another struggle movie

    • lynn1066

      I so agree. This type of narrative has been done to death and has been for decades. But because I love Boyega and Keke Palmer I just may see this one.

  • Taz

    I wish I didnt know he was British. Now I cant stop listening for slips of his accent.

    • mywordsaremypower

      He is English and has an English accent.There is no such thing as a British accent at all. Britain is made up of four countries with each have their own dialects and accents.

    • Taz

      Alright Alright! English….actually any accent thats not American. I’m still gonna listen for his “American” accent to slip.

    • lynn1066

      If you like horror movies, you should check him out in Attack the Block (English movie). He was excellent in that, and has a heavy London accent in it.

    • Taz

      Yea, I like for ppl to talk in their original accent.

    • Rizzo

      that was a really good movie

  • It’s a powerful trailer. The film is based on a true story and many of us know one person who had similar experiences as depicted in the movie. I like urban films (which are inspirational and teaches a valuable lesson on life) just like I like documentaries. The imagery of the movie is powerful and the emotion of the trailer is strong. So, the movie does look interesting. Not all of our stories will be peaches and cream. We, as black people, do deal with drama. Many of us may not have dealt with the drama in the scale as shown in Imperial Dreams, but life hasn’t been a total crystal stair for us. Also, another point is to be made. I will go there. We must always show empathy and sympathy for the plight of the black poor and working class in the ghetto. The ghetto is a domestic colony, which was created by the powers that be to exploit the poor and confine their power (while the establishment subsequently uses economic policies that oppress the citizens of the ghetto).

    We know that the prison industrial complex, police brutality, lax job opportunities, etc. have harmed the lives of many black men and black women. That is why it is very important to not only condemn unjust violence in communities, but to condemn the violence perpetrated by crooked cops, by imperialists, and to condemn the violence of poverty. The neglect of helping our poorer Brothers and Sisters is a testament to the selfishness, the shamefulness, and the callous attitude of many people. I am in full support of a higher minimum wage, of increased development of quality, affordable housing for the poor, and for the expansion of health care so all Americans can have universal health care. We want to end the War on Drugs and alternatives to come about, so human rights are maintained and those who have addiction problems (who are non violent) receive adequate treatment. This fight for the egalitarian, beloved community is a righteous fight that we are waging. So, we want freedom to ring.