John Boyega

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John Boyega
Boyega at the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con
Born
John Adedayo Bamidele Adegboyega

(1992-03-17) 17 March 1992 (age 31)
London, England
Occupations
  • Actor
  • producer
Years active2011–present

John Adedayo Bamidele Adegboyega (born 17 March 1992), known professionally as John Boyega, is a British actor and producer. He first rose to prominence in Britain for his role as a teenage gang leader in the comedy horror film Attack the Block (2011), and had his international breakthrough playing Finn in the Star Wars sequel trilogy films The Force Awakens (2015), The Last Jedi (2017), and The Rise of Skywalker (2019). He received the BAFTA Rising Star Award in 2016, and the Trophée Chopard at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.

Boyega portrayed Leroy Logan in Red, White and Blue, as part of Steve McQueen's anthology series Small Axe (2020), for which he won a Golden Globe Award.[1] He has since starred in the historical action film The Woman King (2022) and the mystery film They Cloned Tyrone (2023).

Early life

Boyega was born in the Camberwell district of London and grew up in Peckham. His parents, Abigail (a carer) and Samson Adegboyega (a Pentecostal minister) are both of Yoruba descent.[2] He has two older sisters.[3]

His first acting role was playing a leopard in a play at Oliver Goldsmith Primary School.[4][5] While in another play there at age nine, he was noticed by Teresa Early, the artistic director of Theatre Peckham, a learning theatre for young people who live in south London. He spent his time there outside school hours from ages nine to fourteen. There was a rumour that his father wanted Boyega to become a minister, but John denied this in an interview with Sam Sanders on Fresh Air. He said that his father supported his theatrical interests.[6][7][8][9] John and his sister Grace were some of the last people to see Damilola Taylor alive: they were friends of his and the Boyegas helped look after him.[10]

In 2003, Boyega began his secondary education at Westminster City School, where he was in various school productions.[11] From 2008 to 2010, he attended South Thames College at the college's Wandsworth campus to study for a National Diploma in Performing Arts.[12] His activities there included playing the title role in the college's production of Othello.[13] He enrolled at the University of Greenwich to study for a BA in film studies and media writing,[14] but dropped out to focus on his acting career.[7] He trained with the Identity School of Acting in London, and became a patron of its Los Angeles branch when it opened in 2018.[15]

Career

Sundance Film Festival, 2014: John Boyega (2nd from the left) with Josh Wiggins, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Sharon Swart (from left to right)

Boyega trained at the Identity School of Acting in Hackney,[16] and appeared in Six Parties at the National Theatre and Category B at the Tricycle Theatre prior to being offered a role in the 2011 film Attack the Block.[17][18] In September 2011, HBO announced that Boyega had been cast in the boxing drama pilot Da Brick, loosely based on Mike Tyson's life. Boyega was expected to play Donnie, who is released from a juvenile detention centre on his 18th birthday and begins to examine what it means to be a man. The pilot, written by John Ridley,[19] was not picked up by HBO.[20] Also in 2011, Boyega acted in the film Junkhearts as Jamal, a drug dealer who finds some guns and tries to sell them.

Boyega was chosen by Fionnuala Halligan of Screen International as one of the "UK Stars of Tomorrow 2011" and appeared with two other actors on the cover of the magazine's July 2011 edition.[21] In March 2012, he was cast in the film adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's book Half of a Yellow Sun.[22] On 29 April 2014, it was confirmed that Boyega was cast as a major character in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.[23] It was later revealed that he would play Finn, a stormtrooper for the First Order, who, after witnessing their cruelty, leaves the military power and joins the fight against them. The film was released on 18 December 2015. The film and Boyega's performance was acclaimed from critics and audiences.[24][25]

In 2017, Boyega starred in Detroit, Kathryn Bigelow's film about the 1967 Detroit riots,[26] and reprised his role as Finn in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.[27]

In January 2016, Boyega formed his own production company, UpperRoom Entertainment Limited. His company co-produced (with Legendary Entertainment[28]) 2018's Pacific Rim: Uprising, the sequel to the 2013 movie Pacific Rim, in which he played the lead role of Jake Pentecost.[29] In 2019 he teased his new collaboration with Writer/Director Sebastian Thiel,[30] with whom he is developing a series based on their childhood experiences, with Boyega producing.[31] In November 2018 it was announced that he would star with Letitia Wright in a novel adaption of Hold Back the Stars.[32] He has also been cast in Steve McQueen's miniseries Small Axe.[33]

Boyega once again reprised his role as Finn in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019). In an interview on Good Morning America, he revealed that he had inadvertently left his script in a hotel room during filming. When it surfaced on eBay, it was bought by a Lucasfilm employee to prevent it from being leaked.[34] In response to a tweet suggesting he should play the DC Comics character Static in a live-action role, Boyega said he would be too old for the role, and that he would be interested in seeing a newcomer receive it. He did, however, express interest in playing the DC character Red Hood.[35]

In the 2020 and 2021 editions of the Powerlist, Boyega was listed in the Top 100 of the most influential people in the UK of African/African-Caribbean descent.[36][37] He was cited as one of the Top 100 most influential Africans by New African magazine in 2020.[38] More recently, his production company UpperRoom made a first-look deal with VIS Kids.[39] While filming the Netflix film Rebel Ridge, he unexpectedly walked out mid-production due to family issues.[40] In 2022, Boyega was the lead in Abi Damaris Corbin's second feature film, Breaking, which premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival under its original title, 892,[41] as well as Gina Prince-Bythewood's historical epic The Woman King alongside Viola Davis, Thuso Mbedu, and Lashana Lynch.[42] Boyega next starred in Netflix's science-fiction comedy They Cloned Tyrone, playing the titular character and multiple other characters.[43]

In May 2021, it was announced that he would reteam with Joe Cornish in a sequel for Attack the Block.[44]

Activism and advocacy

A wax figure of Boyega at Madame Tussauds, London

Boyega showed solidarity[clarification needed] with George Floyd, Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, and Stephen Lawrence during a speech at a Black Lives Matter rally in Hyde Park, London. His gesture was supported by a number of celebrities, and Lucasfilm also reiterated their support for Boyega and the Black Lives Matter movement.[45][46][47]

In a 2020 interview with British GQ, Boyega openly criticised Disney for sidelining his character Finn in the Star Wars sequel trilogy: "[W]hat I would say to Disney is do not bring out a black character, market them to be much more important in the franchise than they are and then have them pushed to the side. It's not good. I'll say it straight up."[3][48][49]

Personal life

Boyega is a teetotaller.[3]

Filmography

Film

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2011 Attack the Block Moses
Junkhearts Jamal
2013 Half of a Yellow Sun Ugwu
2014 Imperial Dreams Bambi
2015 Star Wars: The Force Awakens FN-2187 / Finn
2017 The Circle Ty
Detroit Melvin Dismukes
Star Wars: The Last Jedi Finn
2018 Pacific Rim Uprising Jake Pentecost Also producer
2019 Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Finn
2021 Naked Singularity Casi [50][51]
2022 Breaking Brian Brown-Easley Also producer
The Woman King King Ghezo
2023 They Cloned Tyrone Fontaine

Television

Year Title Role Notes
2011 Da Brick Donnie Pilot
Becoming Human Danny Curtis 4 episodes
Law & Order: UK Jamal Clarkson Episode: "Survivor's Guilt"
2012 My Murder Shakilus Townsend Television film
2013 The Whale William Bond
2014 24: Live Another Day Chris Tanner 4 episodes
2015 Major Lazer Blkmrkt Voice role; 10 episodes
Saturday Night Live Himself Segment: "Star Wars Auditions"
2016 Tinkershrimp & Dutch Dutch Voice role; 5 episodes[52]
2017–18 Star Wars Forces of Destiny Finn Voice role; 2 episodes[53]
2018 Watership Down Bigwig Voice role; 4 episodes
2019 Serengeti Narrator Voice role; 5 episodes[54]
2020 Small Axe Leroy Logan Episode: "Red, White and Blue"
2023 World War II: From the Frontlines Narrator Voice Role; 6 episodes[55]

Stage

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2009 Six Parties Ben National Theatre, London [56]
Category B Reece Kiln Theatre, London [57]
Seize the Day Sam [58]
2009 Detaining Justice Guard / Passer-by [59]
2017 Woyzeck Woyzeck The Old Vic, London [citation needed]

Podcasts

Year Title Role Notes
2021 Tomorrow's Monsters Jack Locke Also producer

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
2015 Disney Infinity 3.0 Finn Voice
2016 Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens
2017 Star Wars Battlefront II

Theme park attractions

Year Title Role Notes
2015 Star Tours – The Adventures Continue Finn Scene added for seasonal Season of the Force promotion
2019 Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance Disney's Hollywood Studios
2020 Disneyland

Awards and recognition

Year Award Category Project Result Ref
2011 Black Reel Award Best Actor Attack the Block Won
Best Breakthrough Performance Nominated
Best Ensemble Nominated
British Independent Film Awards Most Promising Newcomer Nominated
Empire Award Best Male Newcomer Nominated
Evening Standard British Film Awards Most Promising Newcomer Nominated
London Film Critics' Circle Young British Performer of the Year Nominated
2015 British Academy Film Award Rising Star Award Himself Won [60]
2015 Empire Award Best Male Newcomer Star Wars: The Force Awakens Won [61]
Georgia Film Critics Association Best Ensemble Nominated [62]
MTV Movie Awards Best Breakthrough Performance Nominated
Best Action Performance Nominated
Best Ensemble Nominated
Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Movie Actor Nominated [63]
Saturn Award Best Actor Nominated [64][65]
2017 Empire Award Best Actor Star Wars: The Last Jedi Nominated
Teen Choice Award Best Movie Actor – Sci-Fi/Fantasy Nominated
2020 Critics' Choice Television Award Best Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie Small Axe Won
Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actor – Television Won
London Film Critics' Circle British/Irish Actor of the Year Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Actor in a Miniseries or TV Film Nominated

References

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  2. ^ Okoroafor, Cynthia (17 December 2015). "Star Wars opens today, and star Nigerian John Boyega is stealing the spotlight". VENTURES AFRICA. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Famurewa, Jimi (2 September 2020). "John Boyega: 'I'm the only cast member whose experience of Star Wars was based on their race'". British GQ. Archived from the original on 22 October 2020. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
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  15. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (20 September 2018). "John Boyega, Letitia Wright & Damson Idris Among Patrons Of New LA Drama School". Deadline. Retrieved 16 December 2019.
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  26. ^ "Twitter / ?". twitter.com. Archived from the original on 22 September 2016. Retrieved 2 February 2022.
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  28. ^ @JohnBoyega (6 June 2016). "So happy! My company UpperRoom Productions founded by myself & @MrFemiOguns, will co-produce #PacificRim2 alongside @Legendary" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  29. ^ Fleming, Mike (6 June 2016). "'Star Wars' Star John Boyega Takes Lead In 'Pacific Rim' Sequel". Deadline. Retrieved 21 December 2016.
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  33. ^ Clarke, Stewart (26 June 2019). "Letitia Wright, John Boyega to Star in Steve McQueen's Series 'Small Axe' (exclusive)". Variety. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  34. ^ McCarthy, Kelly (27 November 2019). "Actor John Boyega admits 'Star Wars' script on eBay was his". Good Morning America. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  35. ^ Alexander, Susannah (30 August 2020). "Star Wars' John Boyega reveals which DC character he wants to play". Digital Spy. Retrieved 7 October 2020.
  36. ^ Mills, Kelly-Ann (25 October 2019). "Raheem Sterling joins Meghan and Stormzy in top 100 most influential black Brits". mirror. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  37. ^ Lavender, Jane (17 November 2020). "Lewis Hamilton ends incredible year top of influential Black Powerlist 2021". mirror. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  38. ^ "Kenyan Diaspora Madowo named among top 100 most influential Africans". Diaspora Messenger News Media. 7 December 2020. Retrieved 5 January 2021.
  39. ^ Ramachandran, Naman (23 February 2021). "John Boyega's UpperRoom Sets First Look Deal With ViacomCBS International's VIS Kids – Global Bulletin". Variety. Retrieved 24 February 2021.
  40. ^ Barton, Rebekah (5 June 2021). "'Star Wars' Actor Walks Out of Netflix Series Mid-Production". Inside The Magic. Elite Cafemedia Lifestyle. Retrieved 8 June 2021. Now, Boyega has moved on from Star Wars and has been filming the upcoming Netflix series, Rebel Ridge. However, a wrench has been thrown into the production — Boyega recently walked out mid-production, reportedly due to "family reasons".
  41. ^ Kit, Borys (8 July 2021). "John Boyega to Star in Indie Drama '892' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2 August 2022.
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  50. ^ Olivia Cooke Joins John Boyega In Scott Free's 'Naked Singularity'
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  61. ^ John Nugent (11 March 2016). "Jameson Empire Awards 2016: Star Wars and Mad Max lead the nominations". Empire Awards. Retrieved 18 February 2016.
  62. ^ Georgia Film Critics Association Editors (4 January 2016). "Georgia Film Critics Association 2015 Awards". Georgia Film Critics Association. Retrieved 4 January 2016. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  63. ^ Lovett, Jamie (18 February 2016). "Kids' Choice Awards: Adele, Justin Bieber, 'Star Wars' Among Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
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  65. ^ "Saturn Award nominations on YouTube". Saturn Awards. 24 February 2016. Archived from the original on 18 November 2021.

External links