John Boyega‘s vocal support for the Black Lives Matter movement took a more concrete form on Wednesday when he led protesters on a march in London, with the actor voicing concern over his own future.
“Look, I don’t know if I’m going to have a career after this but f**k that!,” the 28-year-old Star Wars and Detroit actor told a crowd, largely young multi-ethnic crowd.
The protest was part of others in the English capital that coalesced around the issue of police brutality against black people and other racial minorities. Some of the signs also conveyed messages about the problem of institutional racism in the UK and the United States.
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Boyega vented: “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 [killed in the UK in 1993].”
The actor, who is of Nigerian descent, described to the irate protesters what it has meant for him to be black.
“I need you to understand how painful this sh*t is. I need you to understand how painful it is to be reminded every day that your race means nothing and that isn’t the case anymore, that was never the case anymore,” said Boyega.
But when Boyega’s comments on his future went viral on Twitter, there was immediate support from many entertainers, white and others, who vowed they would always strive to work with him.
The list of defenders included JJ Abrams, with whom Boyega worked on the recent installation of the Star Wars films. Mark Hamill, Edgar Wright, Olivia Wilde and Charlie Brooke also tweeted their support for Boyega.
Even Lucasfilm, owners of the Star Wars franchise, tweeted: “Lucasfilm stands with John Boyega and his message that now is the time. Black lives have always mattered,” it read. “Black lives have always been important. Black lives have always meant something. 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.”
Boyega’s own part in recent protests against anti-black racism started last week when he inadvertently courted backlash after tweeting his reaction to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last Monday.
“I f–cking hate racists,” Boyega wrote on Tuesday afternoon. The tweet has so far garnered over 400 thousand retweets, as well as more than 10 thousand replies.