The Star Wars franchise is iconic. It’s made billions of dollars at the box office globally and has been a dominant force in mainstream pop culture since A New Hope’s debut in 1977. However, throughout its time in the spotlight, the series hasn’t treated its characters of color–and the actors that play them–exceptionally well.
In an interview at GQ with John Boyega, who played Finn in Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker, the actor and activist spoke out about his treatment while working on the films because of his race. “I’m the only cast member who had their own unique experience of that franchise based on their race,” Boyega said. “Let’s just leave it like that. It makes you angry with a process like that. It makes you much more militant; it changes you. Because you realise, ‘I got given this opportunity but I’m in an industry that wasn’t even ready for me.’ 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.’ Nobody else had that experience. But yet people are surprised that I’m this way. That’s my frustration.”
If you can’t read the full article pls pls let your top lip and bottom lip become one. ❤️
— John Boyega (@JohnBoyega) September 2, 2020
His concerns about the vocal and racist subset of Star Wars fandom are also visible in the experiences of The Last Jedi star Kelly Marie Tran, who left Instagram, after receiving online abuse in the wake of the film’s release. She wrote a piece for the New York Times titled “I Won’t Be Marginalized by Online Harassment” delving into her experience of being a woman of color.