If you didn’t know already (I sure didn’t!), in the US, February has been designated Black History Month. Our good friend Dell over at Dell on Movies has in previous years written some blog posts on the matter, but this year he’s invited us all to join him in his latest project, The Acting Black Blogathon.
The rules are simple enough, but as he puts them so eloquently, I’ll not do him a misjustice and simply copy and paste them from his original post here:
1a. Create a new post about a great movie performance by a Black actor or actress. Tell us why you love it. Or…
1b. Create a new post about a Black actor or actress. Discuss that person’s body of cinematic work to demonstrate why they’re great.
2. Within your post, link back to this one.
3. Either use one of the snazzy banners I’ve created or one you’ve made on your own. If your make your own just include the pertinent information (my blog title, the name of the blogathon and the dates).
4. Publish your post from February 15 through February 17, 2016 and submit a link to it in one of the three ways listed above.
To eliminate the risk of duplicate posts, Dell asked us to submit our topics of choice in advance. I was perhaps a little unoriginal in my choice, but I am so in love with John Boyega recently that I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to dedicate an entire blog post to him and his talent.
At just 23 years old, John Boyega doesn’t have a massive filmography right now, although I’m sure that’s bound to change over the next few years. That works out fine for me though, as I really want to talk about his 2 biggest roles so far, Finn in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Moses in Attack the Block.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens was the first performance I saw of John Boyega, and although it’s a running tradition with the Star Wars movies, I was surprised to learn that John is a bit of a newcomer! I thought he did an amazing job of playing Finn, the First Order Stormtrooper who threw in the towel and escaped. He brings so much enthusiasm and energy to the role, and I found myself smiling in nearly every scene he was in. He has a natural charm and is so instantly likeable!
His chemistry with co-star Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron) was one of the highlights, and well, if you’ve ever been on Tumblr you’ve probably seen everyone’s new favourite OTP, #StormPilot. Ahem…
I really can’t wait to see more of Finn in Episode VIII, (The Force Awakens spoiler ahead) but I’m just hoping he’s recovered from Kylo Ren’s brutal attack! Update: If you follow John on Twitter, there's no doubt Finn is ready!
So, when I finally watched Attack the Block, I was expecting a very similar character in Moses, leader of the gang of youths trying to save their neighbourhood from an alien attack. Boy, I couldn’t have been more wrong! Gone is the happy face and upbeat attitude. This isn’t the John Boyega I thought I knew at all.
Moses is tough, much tougher than Finn, and he leads his gang without the need of barking orders or putting anyone in their place. They know it already. His moral compass is broken, mugging a lone woman on her way home, and when he does finally apologise for the act, his apology only comes from the fact he didn’t realise she lived in ‘the block’. In fact, if she lived two streets down he wouldn’t have been sorry at all.
That’s the moment when I realised. This man can act! Watching those two performances almost back to back was quite incredible, actually. I think the real John Boyega, from what I’ve seen of him in interviews anyway, is much closer to Finn. The guy is an absolute sweetheart actually, and he’s the most well-spoken man I’ve ever heard! Just check him out in this interview here:
I also wanted to use this opportunity to throw in my ‘two cents’ on the #OscarsSoWhite issue, although I realise it’s old news now. There is definitely an issue here, and it does need addressing, but I don’t think throwing that hashtag around and blaming the Academy is really the right thing to do. There was a quote I read a few weeks ago, and I can’t for the life of me remember who it was now, but the quote went something like this…
“Roles win Oscars, not actors”
That struck a chord with me. And I think the point I want to make is that better roles need to be written and given to people of colour. It’s no good to just throw in nominations for actors, actresses and directors of colour just for the sake of diversity.
Anyway, with that little rant over, I just want to thank Dell for hosting this amazing blogathon, and I’m really looking forward to reading everyone else’s contributions!