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John Boyega Slams Lack of Diversity On Screen: 'We Can Ruffle Some Feathers'

John Boyega Slams Lack of Diversity On Screen: 'We Can Ruffle Some Feathers'

John Boyega is speaking out against the lack of diversity in major film franchises.

The 25-year-old Star Wars actor says he’s done accepting the lack of representation in film and television and wants to see a change.

“There are no black people on Game of Thrones. You don’t see one black person in Lord of the Rings. I ain’t paying money to always see one type of person on-screen,” John told GQ.

He added, “Because you see different people from different backgrounds, different cultures, every day. Even if you’re a racist, you have to live with that. We can ruffle up some feathers.”

John also opened up about fame and getting advice from Robert Downey Jr. in the latest issue of GQ.

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  • Sansa Squad

    TELL ‘EM BB!!!!

  • FerCat

    ‘There are no black people on Game of Thrones’

    Obviously doesn’t watch the show.

  • Sansa Squad

    if the parts are inconsequential/forgettable enough that they go unnoticed, that’s still a problem… (ntm a handful of black characters in a cast of that size equates to roughly “no” black people – it’s obv a hyperbolic statement, but he’s not that far off)

  • Eric A

    There were no white people in the Cosby show.
    Anyway, white, black, whatever, is just the colour of the skin. Nothing else, Mister Boyega. So who cares?

  • FerCat

    inconsequential/forgettable?
    Are we watching the same show? Missandei and Grey Worm are not inconsequential. On occasion they just get upstaged by Dragons.

  • Maria M.

    What about Missandei and Grey Worm? There are no black people on Westeros, Westeros stands for medieval Europe but there was black people on Essos, Essos is supposed to be Africa. Maybe you should watch the show first.

  • VanityInsecurity

    Unlike other productions GOT, stays true to its literature & characters. You can’t complain about a supposed all white cast, when they are productions with an all black cast. what were they suppose to do make the Starks an all black family to appease the minorities? when the show has a huge white fan base? Or perhaps you just want to get on the bandwagon now because of the shows popularity. give it a rest.

  • TaraTeller

    so he wants people to be hired because they’re black? I’m so sick of this nonsense. hmmm, but he took advice from a really rich white guy who completely sold out. tell Oprah to start her own production company and only hire black people. no one will complain.

  • tom

    he got hired because he was black

  • Sansa Squad

    and that’s 2 out of how many (human) characters?? my point is, in the grand scheme of things, if you’re looking at the sheer number of characters and how many are played by black people the overall percentage is very close to “none” – it’s also worth noting that ALL the stars of the show are white, v few other minorities are represented, and often when poc do come into the mix it’s part of a tropey white savior narrative. just because it’s a good show (debatable imo but that’s besides the point) doesn’t mean it should get a pass for lack of representation and that’s why I think it’s good he called them out and started this conversation.

  • Sansa Squad

    all-black casts are corrective measures to address a problem (lack of diversity) whereas all-white casts ARE the problem – there’s a difference. and maybe we should be asking why poc are expected to consume and relate to shows featuring white characters but white people are APPALLED when they’re asked to do the same? or why making adjustments for diversity’s sake is considered “appeasing” a few instead of “including” ALL? people get so defensive about this and tbh it’s v telling.

    also fwiw I would watch the hell out of a version of GoT where the starks are black – so get on it hbo!

  • Sansa Squad

    popular media affects the worldviews of consumers on a subliminal (and sometimes even conscious) level so it’s important that it’s balanced enough to reflect our world because it really does make a difference. unfortunately most of the contemporary media landscape is as segregated as the pockets of our society, but I think people like john boyega speak out in hopes that change on-screen can inspire change in real life.

  • Sansa Squad

    no, he got hired because the creatives behind the star wars universe made room for inclusive diversity

  • Sansa Squad

    he really ruffled your feathers, huh?

  • Sansa Squad
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  • TaraTeller

    nope. I think his argument is stupid.

  • FerCat

    You’re basically arguing why there aren’t any black people on Vikings. Can’t force diversity when it isn’t called for.

    If you want diversity go watch Porn.

  • Danae

    Excuse me, where exactly did J.R.R. Tolkien mention black characters in his prose? Mr. Boyega?

  • Cooper

    Yea I think that’s an apples to oranges comparison. Black cinema exists because Of the lack of opportunities for them. I don’t watch Game of Thrones so idk anything about that show and because it was written in more modern times I would expects more diversity. However, I think Tolkein’s novels are a poor example. One because of when it wasn’t written but also everything in that movie came from European culture and folklore which is from predominetly white history and seeing where it was based it just wouldn’t make sense for it not to be mostly white people. They portrayed the characters as people who didn’t move around often so there was just a lack of immigration throughout the novel. That being said what is truly a travesty is black people are given roles made for white people rather than someone be creative enough to create a Storyville for them. I think Black Panther will boost minorities reserve in comics and hopefully new characters. Comics seem to be stuck in a cycle of lazy creativity.

  • VanityInsecurity

    The problem is you think creatively everything better is diverse & its not. Characters from literature to screen that have a huge fan base like GOT, & other stories that are based on medieval history, need to be authentic, especially when you have an enormous fan base that is predominately one sided.
    When you stray too much from a beloved character from ie; comics, or literature, they almost always fail.
    GOT was written with real European history in mind. Last time I checked black people have nothing to do with medieval history

  • VanityInsecurity

    The problem is you think creatively everything better is diverse & its not. Characters from literature to screen that have a huge fan base like GOT, & other stories that are based on medieval history, need to be authentic, especially when you have an enormous fan base that is predominately one sided.
    When you stray too much from a beloved character from ie; comics, or literature, they almost always fail.
    GOT was written with real European history in mind. Last time I checked black people have nothing to do with medieval history

  • Sansa Squad

    so? neither did dragons… you can make adjustments to the characters’ appearances with out changing the plot or messaging of the story at all. “historical accuracy” is not a valid excuse to not be inclusive, especially in a FANTASY show. if you’re smart enough to understand the symbolism of the story you should be able to look past creative liberties when it comes to certain things, like how the characters look. (merlin, for example, was a fantasy show based on medieval british lore, yet featured a black woman as guinevere – the female lead. it didn’t detract anything from the story and probably made a lot of people happy to see themselves reflected in a character that played a major, pivotal role. where is the harm in that?)

    I guess I just don’t understand people’s lack of imagination when it comes to the fantasy genre. you can tell the same nuanced, layered story with people of color in the roles, even if it’s just for representation’s sake. we’re so used to seeing black people playing characters whose storylines are ABOUT being black, it’d be nice to just see them playing characters – any characters, without race being addressed. and fantasy is arguably the only genre where you can really do that naturally! why DIVERSITY is so offensive to people I will never comprehend, but even more egregious to me is how predictable and boring this show has become in its choices and frankly I enjoy seeing it rightfully called out for that.

  • Sansa Squad

    wasn’t it based in a fictional place though? (I’ve never read or seen LOTR tbh so I could be wrong, but when it comes to fantasy in general I don’t think “historical accuracy” is ever a valid excuse to not be inclusive in modern screen adaptations.) and point taken about how they shouldn’t have to take “white” roles instead of having more authentic roles written for them, but adjustments can always be made to make a character feel more real. I just think there’s room for everybody in mainstream media, and creating art for the masses that actually REFLECTS the masses should be more important than keeping a character white so some white person can relate to it (instead of just like, learning basic human empathy).

  • Sansa Squad

    moreso than your argument about starting a black production company where all the black people can work so they stop bothering white people? (because “separate but equal” has been so successful historically, I guess?) you’ll be happy to know that oprah already HAS her own production company where she employs people from all walks of life, and champions diverse, inclusive stories – not because she’s bored or because she wants to piss off racists but because the entertainment industry NEEDS it. in all seriousness, you’ve clearly misunderstood his argument but I’m not about to explain it to someone who obviously doesn’t even know any black people, let alone care about them. peace and blessings.

  • Sansa Squad

    this article is literally ABOUT someone “calling for” it but okay.

  • TaraTeller

    I don’t know any black people? My brother in law is black. Perhaps less movies about slavery and oppression…Hidden Figures was a great movie and a hit because it was about accomplished black women and a great story.

  • TaraTeller

    you are such a blowhard. if I were black, i’d HATE to get a job because some producer thought they HAD to hire me because they needed “diversity.”

  • TaraTeller

    apparently, it’s your feathers that are all ruffled. you want a quota system in movies. that’s BS

  • Cooper

    There’s room for everybody but I also wouldn’t use works from the past to necessarily reflect that especially when the writer and director were keeping European culture in mind. At the end of the day orcs, elves, etc. were created by the Europeans I wouldn’t expect to see an Asian in the movie unless they were traveling to the far east in the movie/book. At least nothing like The Beguiled happened where they took out minority characters (that’s freakin awful). I also don’t think race swapping always works either. My friend was in a Hairspray community theater play and her brother played Link and a white guy played Seaweed. It completely took me out of it because of the context of the play. I would much rather see original shows now anyways and I think modern works really don’t have an excuse. I do appreciate shows like American Gods that take folklore from all cultures and do a mashup because that’s what really helps a story include all races and makes it feel like more natural storytelling. I also think there are tons of characters where race doesn’t matter. Like Spiderman for example, this may not be a popular opinion but I think Tom Holland is so basic and boring. Also, why did they find it necessary to make Zendaya’s character name Michelle? Everyone knows she is meant to be Mary Jane and she was good in the role just call her Mary Jane.

  • VanityInsecurity

    The fact that black actors are forever trying to interject themselves into white characters should tell you alot in itself. Create your own stories your own mythologies & perhaps you can have your diversity.

    Why in gods name would minority people want to play characters that are considered white? that is so unauthentic to me & to most people. do you not get it? the fact that you dont is why this will always be an issue.

    Take black panther from Marvel.. can we make him white or asian or a martian without it being a problem? No we can’t.

  • Sansa Squad

    totally get that (especially when it comes to colorblind casting for works like hairspray where race is intrinsic to the plot and changes the whole meaning if you don’t stick strictly to the text) – and you bring up a good point about original work and adaptations of existing IP. unfortunately with the way the industry is going, pretty much the only projects that get made are sequels, reboots, or adaptions, so racebending characters (assuming their race doesn’t define them on a story-level) is the most logical and effective way to promote diversity/inclusion in the existing system. I think if there was a real push for original stories, a lot of these problems would just fix themselves but sadly that’s just not where we are. :/

  • Sansa Squad

    did I say that? you’re the one who keeps jumping to these extreme conclusions… I’m just trying to explain WHY people feel this way so you don’t have to be so upset about it

  • Sansa Squad

    you can’t know that though, because the person you are and your values have been shaped by your experiences as a white person – talk to any person of color who works specifically in the entertainment industry (which is hard enough to break into anyway WITHOUT the added biases that pervade on every level) and they WILL tell you they’ll take their opportunities where they can get them, diversity “quotas” or not. (and fyi, there are no official “quotas” in place at any of the major studios – ESPECIALLY when it comes to hiring on-screen talent. the only people holding studios accountable are working creatives like john boyega and paying audience members like me, and it’s because there’s obviously a cultural need to see ourselves – ALL of us – reflected on-screen, not because we want to piss off white people who are offended by the idea of a black legolas or whatever.)

  • Cooper

    I totally agree. I have am actually in the process of writing 4 screenplays and I love writing for biracial characters because I am biracial. And when I do it I then think about the fact that the talent behind the camera lacks diversity as well. Hollywood is very unoriginal which is one of their problems.