John Boyega, Jo Malone and the Racism Debate

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British-Nigerian actor John Boyega announced his resignation from his ambassadorship position with British perfume brand Jo Malone ambassador role with an expressive tweet hours ago.


The Star Wars actor had been the inspiration behind an ad for the company and the concept for the shoot had been mostly from his input as he was the director. The said ad was re-shot for the Chinese market and Boyega was replaced in the Chinese version with a Chinese actor. Outraged about the turn of events on an ad that he says “celebrated my personal story”, Boyega insists that Jo Malone was “wrong” to have used another actor “without my consent or prior notice”.

The company apologised for what it described as a “misstep” that caused “offence”. Taking to Twitter to vent, Boyega said while he accepted that companies could choose different representatives from around the world, “dismissively trading out one’s culture this way is not something I can condone”. “The film celebrated my personal story – showcasing my hometown, including my friends and featuring my family,” he continued”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. Stay blessed people.”

The Chinese version of the advert largely followed the same story but featured Chinese star Liu Haoran instead of Boyega. The original iteration, titled London Gent, showed Boyega hanging out with friends and family in Peckham, where he grew up. These bits were also omitted for the Chinese audience for a more Chinese-based script.

Jo Malone, owned by popular cosmetics company Estee Lauder, has since withdrawn the advert from circulation in China. “We deeply apologize for what, on our end, was a mistake in the local execution of the John Boyega campaign,” they said in a statement on Monday.

Boyega’s sister Grace posted the Chinese version of the advert in a Twitter response.’ Taking this misstep very seriously’. In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Jo Malone London 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.

“While we immediately took action and removed the local version of the campaign, we recognize that this was painful and that offense was caused,” it added.”We respect John and support our partners and fans globally. We are taking this misstep very seriously and we are working together as a brand to do better moving forward.”

It’s not the first time that John Boyega has been on the receiving end of misappropriation of content, especially as it relates to racism; there was an uproar in 2016 when Disney unveiled a redone movie poster for Star Wars: The Force Awakens in China. Boyega’s new lead character Finn was visibly reduced in size, compared with the original poster. Earlier this month, the Boyega had called for an end to black actors being “pushed to the side” by film companies. His reaction to this development is an expected one considering his stance against anything even remotely disrespectful to his race.

28- year old Boyega has since garnered support on Twitter, with a long thread of supporting tweets denouncing racism and lack of consideration towards Black people.

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