John Boyega has cut ties with perfume company Jo Malone after it replaced him in a commercial for the Chinese market.
The film project London Gent, which he wrote and directed, was released in 2019 as part of his role as the brand’s first male global ambassador. The video featured Boyega frolicking in his Peckham neighborhood in London with his actual family and friends. The group laughs, dances, rides horses and bicycles in the original film, which earned the honor for Best Media Campaign at the 2020 Fragrance Foundation Virtual Awards.
But the company chose famous Chinese actor Liu Haoran to “play” Boyega in an alternative version of the short film meant to air in the China.
Boyega wasn’t the only person recast in the new version of the advertorial. His friends and family he had tapped to appear in the production were also replaced with ultimately no Black people in the final product.
The company issued an apology to the Star Wars actor Tuesday for reshooting the clip for their China market.
“We deeply apologize for what, on our end, was a mistake in the local execution of the John Boyega campaign,” the statement read, according to the Hollywood Reporter. “John is a tremendous artist with great personal vision and direction. The concept for the film was based on John’s personal experiences and should not have been replicated.”
“While we immediately took action and removed the local version of the campaign, we recognize that this was painful and that offense was caused,” it added. “We respect John and support our partners and fans globally. We are taking this misstep very seriously and we are working together as a brand to do better moving forward.”
Boyega immediately stepped down as an ambassador for the company, sharing his sentiments Tuesday on Twitter.
“Their decision to replace my campaign in China by using my concepts and substituting a local brand ambassador for me, without either my consent or prior notice, was wrong. The film celebrated my personal story—showcasing my hometown, including my friends and featuring my family,” he wrote. “While many brands understandably use a variety of global and local ambassadors, dismissively trading out one’s culture this way is not something I can condone.”
“It’s back to back but I assure you this will be dealt with swiftly. I don’t have time for nonsense. We press on and strong. Stay blessed people,” Boyega concluded.
Jo Malone, based in London, responded to the actor’s decision by releasing another statement on Twitter.
“John Boyega is an incredible talent, artist and person and we were proud to have him as part of our Jo Malone London family. We respect John’s decision and we wish him all the best,” it read.