John Boyega Says Studios Must Protect Their POC Actors From Online Abuse

John Boyega doesn't want what happened to him to happen to other actors of color. The Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker star has been vocal about his unhappiness with the way Disney handled the torrential online abuse that Boyega suffered when he was part of the Star Wars universe, nor the way his character was sidelined in the films. But Boyega is hoping that other studios will learn a lesson and not let their POC stars "get Boyega-ed."

In an interview with Variety, Boyega urged studios to better protect their non-white male actors who find themselves targeted by hateful online abuse and harassment by toxic "fans":

"When one of your actors, especially an actor that's so prominent in the story, is announced as part of your franchise and then it has a big racial backlash and receives abuse online and that starts to form a shadow on what is supposed to be an amazing gift, it is important for the studios to definitely lend their voice, lend their support to that and to have a sense of solidarity not just in the public eye, but on the ground on set."

Boyega is naturally referring to his own history in the new Star Wars trilogy, in which his character, Finn, was positioned as the new lead in The Force Awakens — dominating trailers, marketing, and the first act of the film, before it was revealed to be a red herring to hide the real lead, Daisy Ridley's Rey. While it was a clever bit of misleading marketing, Disney probably should have anticipated the backlash that Boyega received at the hands of irate Star Wars fans who detested the idea of a non-white lead in the franchise.

The studio's lack of intervention on Boyega's part is still a sore spot for both the actor and his fans — and Disney would continue their upsetting policy of inaction when Boyega's Star Wars: The Last Jedi star Kelly-Marie Tran received so much online abuse that she was driven off social media — but Boyega is looking on the bright side: at least studios can (and should) learn from this.

"Next time you cast someone in that position, you bring them through the process," Boyega said. "They need that support. They can't get Boyega-ed."

Disney in particular still has some catching up to do in this regard — subjecting Tran to the online hate after Last Jedi, only to sideline her and Boyega in The Rise of Skywalker, in a move that seemed to vindicate the hatred they received. And under Marvel Studios, Captain Marvel star Brie Larson is receiving just as much online abuse, and getting little in the way of protection from Disney. Though it's great to know that in the meanwhile, all the Marvel stars will band together to protect Chris Pratt from an evil Twitter meme.