John Boyega suffered through a lot of racist hate when he starred in the Star Wars prequels, but at least it led to a change in Disney policy.
When the Star Wars sequel trilogy was running in theaters, John Boyega (Finn) got a lot of well-publicized backlash. To make a long story short, many fans were unhappy that he was Black, and Boyega was happy to talk about it. Kelly Marie Tran also received a lot of racist and sexist abuse when she debuted as Rose Tico in The Last Jedi. It was a pretty grim moment for fandom.
These days, Disney is more proactive preparing actors of color for the very real possibility that they’re going to receive racist hatred online; for instance, actor Moses Ingram remembers that the producers on Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi put “the proper systems in place” to protect her from potential abuse. But Boyega didn’t have that kind of support when the sequel trilogy was coming out. “I’m the one that brought this to the freaking forefront,” he told Men’s Health in a new interview.
At least the people going into it now, after my time, [they’re] cool. [Now, Lucasfilm is] going to make sure you’re well supported and at least you [now] go through this franchise knowing that everybody is going to have [your] back. I’m glad I talked out everything at that time.
I feel like online fandom has gone through a bit of a reckoning over the past few years, with huge releases like the Star Wars sequel trilogy shining a light on parts of it better left unseen. Star Wars fans definitely don’t have a monopoly on toxicity, as folks like Simon Pegg have suggested, but they were the poster children for a minute.
Now that people are more aware of the rules of the game, hopefully things will be a little more civil going forward. As for Boyega, you can see him in the drama Breaking when it comes out in theaters later this month.