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John Boyega

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John Boyega
John Boyega by Gage Skidmore.jpg
John Boyega at the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con International
Born (1992-03-17) 17 March 1992 (age 23)
Peckham, London, England, United Kingdom
Alma mater University of Greenwich
Occupation Actor
Years active 2011–present

John Boyega (born 17 March 1992) is a British actor best known for playing Finn in the 2015 film Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Boyega rose to prominence in his native United Kingdom for his role of Moses in the 2011 sci-fi comedy film Attack the Block, before attaining international recognition for his work as Finn in the seventh film of the Star Wars series.

Other credits include historical fiction drama film Half of a Yellow Sun (2013), four episodes of the television series 24: Live Another Day and the drama Imperial Dreams (2014).

Early life

Boyega was born in Peckham, south London,[1] to Nigerian parents, Abigail and Samson.[2][3] His first role was a leopard in a play at his primary school.[4] At the age of eight, Boyega and his sister were with 10-year-old schoolboy Damilola Taylor immediately prior to his notorious killing in Peckham.[5]

Boyega was a pupil at Oliver Goldsmith Primary School. While acting in a play there at the age of nine, he was noticed by Teresa Early, the artistic director of Theatre Peckham, a learning theatre for young people who live in south London. After obtaining financial assistance from a hardship fund, he joined the theatre, spending his time there outside school hours between the ages of nine and 14. Boyega's father, a preacher, had wanted Boyega to become a preacher too, but was supportive of his son's theatrical interests.[6][7][8][9]

In 2003, Boyega started his secondary education at Westminster City School, where he took part in various school productions.[10] Between 2008 and 2010, he attended South Thames College at the college's Wandsworth campus to study for a National Diploma in Performing Arts.[11] His activities at the college included playing the title role in the college's production of Othello.[12] He then enrolled at the University of Greenwich to study BA Film Studies & Media Writing,[13] though he later dropped out of the course to focus on his acting career.[7]


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

Boyega trained at the Identity School of Acting in Hackney,[14] 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.[15][16] 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 was written by John Ridley,[17] but was not picked up by HBO.[18] Also in 2011, he acted in the film Junkhearts in which he portrayed 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 alongside two other actors on the front cover of that magazine in its July 2011 edition.[19]

In March 2012, Boyega was cast in the film adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's book Half of a Yellow Sun.[20]

On 29 April 2014, it was confirmed that Boyega had been cast as a lead character in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.[21] It was later revealed Boyega would play Finn, a stormtrooper for the First Order, who leaves the fascist military power after witnessing their cruelty in his first combat mission before joining the fight against them. The film was released on 18 December 2015. Both the film and Boyega's performance received acclaim from both audiences and critics.[22][23]

Boyega has stated in an interview that he is a fan of Marvel Comics, and that he had hoped to play the Marvel character Black Panther.[24]



Year Title Role Notes
2011 Attack the Block Moses Black Reel Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Black Reel Award for Best Breakthrough Performance
Nominated – Black Reel Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated – British Independent Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer
Nominated – Empire Award for Best Male Newcomer
Nominated – Evening Standard British Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer
Nominated – London Film Critics' Circle Award for Young British Performer of the Year
2011 Junkhearts Jamal
2013 Half of a Yellow Sun Ugwu
2015 Star Wars: The Force Awakens FN-2187 / Finn Pending – BAFTA Rising Star Award[25]
Pending – Georgia Film Critics Association for Best Ensemble[26]
Pending – Online Film & Television Association Award for Best Breakthrough Performance Male
Pending – Online Film & Television Association Award for Best Ensemble
2016 Imperial Dreams Bambi Completed
2016 The Circle Ty Post-production
2017 Star Wars Episode VIII Finn Pre-production


Year Title Role Notes
2011 Da Brick Donnie Pilot
2011 Becoming Human Danny Curtis 4 episodes
2011 Law & Order: UK Jamal Clarkson Episode: "Survivor's Guilt"
2012 My Murder Shakilus Townsend Television film
2013 The Whale William Bond Television film
2014 24: Live Another Day Chris Tanner 4 episodes
2015 Major Lazer Blkmrkt (voice) Supporting role
2015 Saturday Night Live Himself Segment: "Star Wars: The Force Awakens Screen Tests"
2016 Tinkershrimp & Dutch[27] Dutch (voice) Main role


Year Title Role Notes
2010 Othello Othello South Thames College

Video games

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

Theme park attractions

Year Title Role Notes
2015 Star Tours–The Adventures Continue Finn Scene added for seasonal Season of the Force promotion


  1. ^ McCorkell, Andrew (1 May 2011). "'War of the Worlds' meets 'Skins' on London movie set". The Independent (London: INM). ISSN 0951-9467. OCLC 185201487. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  2. ^ Itzkoff, Dave (22 July 2011). "John Boyega in Joe Cornish's 'Attack the Block'". The New York Times (New York City: NYTC). ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  3. ^ Okoroafor, Cynthia (17 December 2015). "Star Wars opens today, and star Nigerian John Boyega is stealing the spotlight". VENTURES AFRICA. Retrieved 31 January 2016. 
  4. ^ "The Attack of John Boyega". Interview. 2011. Retrieved 24 June 2012. 
  5. ^ "Star Wars' John Boyega was one of last people to see Damilola Taylor alive, says father". The Guardian. 23 December 2015. Retrieved 31 January 2016. 
  6. ^ Palmer, Jim (8 December 2015). "Everything you need to know about John Boyega – from Peckham to Wandsworth to Greenwich to Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens". News Shopper. Retrieved 31 January 2016. 
  7. ^ a b Turner, Camilla (24 April 2015). "Star Wars: John Boyega, the boy from Peckham who stormed Hollywood". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 October 2015. 
  8. ^ Turner, Camilla (25 April 2015). "Star Wars: Five things you didn't know about John Boyega". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 October 2015. 
  9. ^ "Theatre Peckham". Theatre Peckham. Retrieved 31 January 2016. 
  10. ^ "Memorable OWCs". Old Westminster Citizens' Association. Retrieved 31 January 2016. 
  11. ^ "From South Thames to Star Wars: college star lands role in a Galaxy Far Far Away". South Thames College. 2 May 2014. Retrieved 31 January 2016. 
  12. ^ "Back to college for Star Wars actor". South Thames College. 16 November 2015. Retrieved 31 January 2016. 
  13. ^ "The Force is strong with Greenwich". University of Greenwich. 17 December 2015. Retrieved 31 January 2016. 
  14. ^ "Hall of Fame". 2012. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  15. ^ "Attack the Block feature item". 2012. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  16. ^ Yamato, Jen (1 August 2011). "Attack the Block's John Boyega on Going 'From Hoodie to Hero,' and Taking Hollywood by Storm". Movieline. Retrieved 24 June 2012. 
  17. ^ Wightman, Catriona (1 September 2011). "John Boyega to star in Mike Tyson, Spike Lee HBO pilot 'Da Brick' – US TV News". Digital Spy. Retrieved 24 June 2012. 
  18. ^ Jeffery, Morgan (14 March 2012). "'Da Brick': HBO passes on Mike Tyson boxing drama – US TV News". Digital Spy. Retrieved 24 June 2012. 
  19. ^ "Stars of Tomorrow 2011". Screen Daily. 30 June 2011. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  20. ^ Pearson, Ben (29 March 2012). "Attack the Block star John Boyega joins Half of a Yellow Sun". Filmonic. Retrieved 24 June 2012. 
  21. ^ "Star Wars: Episode VII Cast Announced". 29 April 2014. Retrieved 29 April 2014. 
  22. ^ Bradshaw, Peter. "Star Wars: The Force Awakens review – 'a spectacular homecoming'". The Guardian. Guardian News & Media Limited. Retrieved 18 January 2016. 
  23. ^ McWeeny, Drew (December 16, 2015). "Review: JJ Abrams breathes new life into 'Star Wars' with 'The Force Awakens'". HitFix. Retrieved December 19, 2015. 
  24. ^ "Get to know 'Star Wars' star John Boyega". CNN. Breeanna Hare, CNN. 28 November 2014. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  25. ^ BAFTA Editors (January 5, 2016). "EE Rising Star Award in 2016". British Academy Film Awards. Retrieved January 5, 2016. 
  26. ^ Georgia Film Critics Association Editors (January 4, 2016). "Georgia Film Critics Association 2015 Awards". Georgia Film Critics Association. Retrieved January 4, 2016. 
  27. ^ Sarah Deen (5 January 2016). "John Boyega joins Nickelodeon's Tinkershrimp & Dutch". 

External links