British-Nigerian actor John Boyega has stepped down from his role as a global ambassador for Jo Malone after accusing the perfume brand of replicating a short film he created for a campaign without his consent.
The replicated short film in question was created for their Chinese market and the characters in the original setup – which had Boyega as the lead – were replaced with Chinese actors, including local star Liu Haoran.
Titled “London Gent”, the original short film features scenes of Boyega walking through his childhood neighborhood of Peckham in London and then hanging out with his family. He also rides a white horse in the company of cyclists and he is later seen having fun at a party.
In a series of tweets on Monday, Boyega, 28, called the company out for “dismissively trading out” his culture.
“When I joined the brand as their first male global ambassador last year, I created the short film we used to launch the campaign. It won the Fragrance Foundation Virtual awards 2020 for Best Media Campaign,” he revealed.
At the time the original commercial was released in 2019, Jo Malone – an Estee Lauder subsidiary – said the Pacific Rim Uprising star hand-picked everyone featured in the film. “Scent triggers powerful memories. And for John, the most potent memories always bring him home,” the perfume brand initially said.
“Their decision to replace my campaign in China by using my concepts and substituting a local brand ambassador for me, without either my consent or prior notice, was wrong. The film celebrated my personal story– showcasing my hometown, including my friends and featuring my family,” Boyega shared.
He continued: “While many brands understandably use a variety of global and local ambassadors, dismissively trading out one’s culture this way is not something I can condone.
“It’s back to back but I assure you this will be dealt with swiftly. I don’t have time for nonsense. We press on and strong.”
Boyega publicly calling out the perfume brand preceded a statement they sent to The Hollywood Reporter on Saturday apologizing for what they called a “mistake” in production.
“We deeply apologize for what, on our end, was a mistake in the local execution of the John Boyega campaign,” the company said. “John is a tremendous artist with great personal vision and direction. The concept for the film was based on John’s personal experiences and should not have been replicated.”
They also said they’ve since taken down the Chinese ad. In a follow-up tweet on Monday, the company added: “John Boyega is an incredible talent, artist and person and we were proud to have him as part of our Jo Malone London family. We respect John’s decision and we wish him all the best.”
This recent incident isn’t the first time Boyega has been “sidelined” in campaigns/ads targeted at the Chinese market, according to Al Jazeera. In 2015, Disney shrunk his Star Wars character, Finn, in a poster promoting the 7th episode of the movie series in the Asian country.