John Boyega is one of Hollywood’s fastest rising stars. In 2015 he emerged on the U.S. acting scene as Finn in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Now, with a leading role in Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit, he’s showing audiences why they should pay attention to the young Brit from Peckham, London.
In the movie, out August 4, Boyega plays Melvin Dismukes, a security guard hired to protect a store in the midst of the uprising in Detroit. For the 25-year-old actor, his involvement in the film became a crash course in American history.
“I found out about Black Wall Street and I found out about Detroit 67 but I didn’t know about the Algiers Motel situation. I didn’t know about that particular event,” Boyega told ESSENCE. “And that crash course was shocking to me.”
In addition to learning about the events that sparked Bigelow to produce the crime drama, Boyega credits the film with forcing him to think about what part he’ll play in ensuring the catalyst for the unrest doesn’t persist.
“Even stateside and around the world people still think systemic racism is a mystery and it’s not. And there is a Black experience and Detroit explores that. And for me there is a part that we all play and it takes a while to kind of figure out and I’m figuring it out now, and I don’t know. But the experience on Detroit has helped kind of ignite that inside of me to know what my position is in all of this. Because it’s a necessary fight and it’s one that we all are apart of.”