John Boyega is a proud supporter of women, both in front of and behind the camera. And though many men in Hollywood have remained quiet on the issues plaguing their female colleagues, the 25-year-old star has no problem acknowledging the biased nature of his industry or showing the utmost respect for the women who fight for equality.
While discussing his newest film, Pacific Rim Uprising, Boyega shared his thoughts on the current state of Black women in Hollywood, saying the success of box office smash Black Panther is largely due to audiences craving heroes who reflect themselves. Still, it isn’t lost on the Londoner that the real power comes from asserting ourselves off-screen.
“It’s just been a slow come up to this point. Black Panther is huge, and while we celebrate, I think it’s very important to emphasize that we also need more powerful positions behind the scenes,” Boyega shares.
“We need more executives, showrunners, writers, directors, getting our Black women in there, specifically,” the Star Wars actor emphasizes. “When I say Black women, I mean our brown-skinned Black women, because colorism has become an issue as well, and we need to tackle all of these things. I just think it’s very important for us to represent the world how we see it.”
When it comes to the women who have most inspired his own career, the actor names Dame Judi Dench and women of color who continue to persevere in a world that often overlooks their contributions to the craft.
The young Brit also praises one newcomer who’s caught his eye, and the Oscar-winner who seems to have everyone falling in love.
“I would say Angela Bassett. I would say Viola Davis. Newly, I’d say Letitia Wright. She’s inspired me in ways I couldn’t bloody imagine! And of course, Lupita Nyong’o. I mean, she knows she inspires me every day. She’s been an inspiration since before we met.”
Boyega even acknowledges the resilience of women who continue to thrive in unaccommodating spaces, saying, “I just find it amazing, because let’s be honest, this industry does not cater to women, and for women of color it’s even more complicated. So, seeing them in positions of power and success makes you say to yourself, ‘you know what? I have no excuse.’”
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Born and raised in Compton, California, Jessica Bennett began her career as an intern at The Oakland Post, and later, The Source Magazine. She went on to write for respected hip hop publications such as DJ Booth and Hip Hop DX before becoming the Urban Editor of pop culture website, Wetpaint.com. She joined Ebony as the Entertainment Editor August 2017. Bennett has interviewed such names as Vanessa Williams, Spike Lee, Tyra Banks, Forest Whitaker, Magic & Cookie Johnson and several others.