Lucasfilm has called John Boyega “our hero” on Twitter after the Star Wars actor delivered an impassioned speech at a Black Lives Matter rally in London following the killing of George Floyd in the US.
“Black lives have always mattered,” Boyega told a crowd in Hyde Park on Wednesday (June 4) as he listed high-profile victims of racist deaths and spoke of the personal pain of bigotry.
“Look, I don’t know if I’m going to have a career after this, but fuck that,” the 28-year-old shouted into a megaphone.
Later that day a tweet appeared on the official Star Wars Twitter account that said, “We stand with and support you, @JohnBoyega.”
Echoing the actor’s words, the tweet said, “Black lives have always mattered,” and went on to say: “The evil that is racism must stop. We will commit to being part of the change that is long overdue in the world. John Boyega, you are our hero.”
In late 2015 controversy eupted after a Chinese version of the poster promoting The Force Awakens appeared with a much-reduced image of Boyega, whose key character Finn was considerably larger on the international poster.
During his emotional address on Wednesday, Boyega, who starred in Episodes 7-9 of the Star Wars saga, said: “Black lives have always mattered. We have always been important. We have always meant something. We have always succeeded, regardless. And now is the time.”
Visibly distraught and moved to tears, Boyega continued, “I need you to understand how painful this shit is to be reminded every day that your race means nothing, and that isn’t the case anymore.
“We are a physical representation of our support for George Floyd. We are a physical representation of our support for Sandra Bland. We are a physical representation of our support for Trayvon Martin. We are a physical representation of our support for Stephen Lawrence.”
A handcuffed George Floyd died on May 25 after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was recorded kneeling on the detained man’s neck for more than eight minutes.
The incident went viral, sparking protests across the US and parts of the world that are ongoing.
All four officers attending the scene were fired, and on Wednesday prosecutors upgraded the charge against Chauvin to second-degree murder and charged his three fellow officers with aiding and abetting murder.
Boyega broke out in Joe Cornish’s action comedy Attack The Block and the TV series Becoming Human. His credits include the Civil Rights drama Detroit, and upcoming releases include Small Axe, Steve McQueen’s six-part anthology commissioned by the BBC and Amazon that focuses on the experiences of the West Indian community in the UK from the late 1960s to the 1980s.
Two episodes, Mangrove and Lovers Rock, were turned into features and were announced on Wednesday as part of the Cannes Official Selection.