John Boyega Not 'Bitter' About Racist 'Star Wars' Fans, Happy to Be 'That Guy' to Inspire Change

The actor praised Disney's defense of 'Obi-Wan's Moses Ingram after calling out the racism he faced while staring in the sequel series.

John Boyega may not be returning to the world of Star Wars but he still appreciates seeing the franchise take a step toward changing for the better. During an appearance on SiriusXM’s Tell Me Everything With John Fugelsang, Boyega praised studios Disney and Lucasfilm for their timely response to the fan harassment of Obi-Wan Kenobi star Moses Ingram.

Speaking with Fugelsang, the Breaking actor said he didn't feel any bitterness comparing the difference in how the studios' responded to the racism he faced while staring in the sequel series.

"That's how it goes, man," he said, acknowledging how his experience made Disney and Lucasfilm reevaluate how they handle fan harassment. 

"I felt Moses Ingram being protected makes me feel protected. It makes me feel like, OK, cool. I am not the elephant in the room because when I started it, wasn't really a conversation you could bring up," he added. "You know how [others] went through it. It was kind of like, let's just be silent. It wasn't a conversation you could bring up. But now to see how blatant it is, to see Ewan McGregor come and support is... for me [it] fulfills my time where I didn't get the support."

Back in May, Ingram took to her Instagram Story to share the hateful messages she'd been receiving since joining the franchise as the ambitious new Inquisitor Reva Sevander on the long-awaited Disney+ series. The Yale Drama School alum shared screenshots of the messages, which included "You suck loser. You're a diversity hire and you won't be loved or remembered for this acting role" and "You're [sic] days are numbered."

In a video to her followers, Ingram revealed that these messages were a small example of the negativity she's received online.

"Long story short, there are hundreds of those, hundreds. And I also see those of you out there who put on a cape for me and that really does mean the world to me, because there's nothing anybody can do about this," Ingram said. "Thank you to the people who show up for me in the comments, in the places that I'm not gonna put myself. To the rest of y'all, y'all weird."

Soon after, Star Wars spoke out in support of Ingram across its social accounts. "We are proud to welcome Moses Ingram to the Star Wars family and excited for Reva's story to unfold. If anyone intends to make her feel in any way unwelcome, we have only one thing to say: we resist," the statement said. "There are more than 20 million sentient species in the Star Wars galaxy, don't choose to be a racist."

Franchise veterans Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen also lent their support for their co-star publicly, with the former taking to social media to slam the “horrendous” messages sent to Ingram. “As the leading actor in the series, as executive producer on the series, [know] that we stand with Moses. We love Moses. And if you’re sending her bullying messages, you’re no Star Wars fan in my mind,” he said. “There’s no place for racism in this world.”

Boyega told Fugelsang that rather than feeling bitter, he saw his experience as his time to be "that guy."  

"My dad taught me that. Sometimes you're not the guy to get the blessing," the 30-year-old explained. "Sometimes you are Moses, you know, you lead the people to the mountain, but you [just] see the destination. You don't get to go in, you get others to go in. And that's where you get your happiness from."

He added, "And for me to see other people accepted, and then at the same time to see that the studios now are like, OK, cool. This is not an elephant-in-the-room conversation. We need to support our Black client. It's fantastic."

Boyega spoke about the racism he experienced while playing Finn following the release of The Rise of Skywalker, the final installment in the trilogy back in the fall of 2020. 

"I’m the only cast member who had their own unique experience of that franchise based on their race. Let’s just leave it like that," he explained in a candid interview with British GQ. "It makes you angry with a process like that. It makes you much more militant; it changes you. Because you realize, 'I got given this opportunity but I’m in an industry that wasn’t even ready for me.'"

"Nobody else in the cast had people saying they were going to boycott the movie because [they were in it]. Nobody else had the uproar and death threats sent to their Instagram DMs and social media, saying, 'Black this and Black that and you shouldn’t be a Stormtrooper,'" he added. "Nobody else had that experience. But yet people are surprised that I’m this way. That’s my frustration."

The divide between Boyega -- and his BIPOC co-stars like Oscar Isaac, Kelly Marie Tran and Naomi Ackie -- and the franchise's white leads became even more stark during The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker, where his Stormtrooper turned Rebel fighter, Finn, was relegated to more of a supporting role after initial hints that the Force-sensitive character might be a more important chess piece in the franchise's epic conclusion.

"It’s so difficult to maneuver," the actor went on. "You get yourself involved in projects and you’re not necessarily going to like everything. [But] what 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."

In conversation with Fugelsang, the actor reiterated that point, saying that studios shouldn't tease Black fans with nuanced representation if they don't plan on following through. 

"Even if you wanna remove race out of it, just from a business perspective... Don't tease no Black Panther, market a Black actor and [bait and switch]," he warned. "You don't do it with white actors. So don't think you can have this skill set where you're gonna put everybody on plasters, you got white people and Black people excited, and then we come in and they're in it for five minutes. They die at the beginning, or they're [simply] the best friend."

The actor questioned why Black actors and actors of color often suffer in terms of story even when given the opportunity to star in large projects such as Star Wars. "You still got a rich story coming through. Why can't it be spread out?" he asked.

"But what the conversation does is, for me, so positive because it gives other actors the ability to be able to say, 'I'm not comfortable with this, or this is what's happened. This is the kind of support I need,'" Boyega concluded. "And that for me is what I wanted out of everything."

When it comes to Star Wars, Boyega confirmed that he has no plans to reprise the role of Finn in the franchise. The actor said he's "good off it," saying that fans can still enjoy the character "in other things" like Disney+ animation, games and comic books. 

"I think to be fair, what allies that I've found within Joel Taylor and Jamie Foxx, Teyonah Parris, Viola Davis, all these people I've been working with, versatility is my path," he said. "I feel like, yeah, seven to nine was good for me."