Breaking star John Boyega is not picking a side in the ongoing debate about the prominence of British actors landing big roles over their American peers. In his interview with “The Breakfast Club” on Friday (Sept. 16), Boyega said pitting the two groups of actors against one another was futile and that instead of talking about each other to the mainstream media, there needs to be more discourse between them.
“I think number one, the first approach is to listen to each other because there might be a perspective that we are missing, right?” he started around the 28-minute mark of the conversation. “Coming into the game, and we are not coming into the game to steal anything. In fact, it’s impossible to steal a role, by the way. Roles are only offered. So, we come in just to work, but sometimes you don’t know whose toes you’re stepping on if you don’t actually listen to the people and the folks that are on the ground to tell you,” said the 30-year-old actor.
Discissions regarding the casting of Black Brits became a hot topic in 2017, when Samuel L. Jackson publicly shared that he wondered what the role of Chris Washington in Get Out would have looked like if Daniel Kaluuya, who is British, had not landed the gig. In short, Jackson said, “What would a brother from America have made of that role? Some things are universal, but not everything” during the March 2017 interview.
Boyega said that while he is British, he does not feel the debate personally resonates with him. He noted that his experience in the U.S. has been one where African Americans have shown him an abundance of support both professionally and in his private life.
“I think on set we collaborate a lot, even with roles as a Black Brit that people feel like I wouldn’t understand the role. Sometimes my African American brother don’t understand the role too, and we help each other ‘cause we weren’t there. At the end of the day, we are actors, we have to portray something that we can’t see,” he said.
The Woman King male lead said that the dialogue is necessary, but the framing of it needs to be shifted so that Black Brits and their U.S. peers are not rivals. “We should stay listening, stay collaborating because the civil war stuff s**t looks weak, it looks petty and weak, especially when it comes to the mainstream game. It looks a bit dead, but if we can talk and have a conversation about it, no one feels like it should be an attack thing. You know, let’s keep it cordial so we can actually have the conversation and perhaps we’ll learn a few things,” he concluded.
Watch the full interview below.