John Boyega is in a galaxy of his own making.
The Star Wars star, 30, has been working nonstop since his role in the global franchise catapulted him to superstardom. In a new interview with Men’s healththe British-born son of Nigerian immigrants opened up about how that work ethic eventually took a toll on his mental health.
Boyega grew up in Peckham, a working-class community in London, and said his ambition was the “battery power” that led him to become “a millionaire by probably 22 or 23”, after his role as Finn in the sequel trilogy films Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)The Last Jedi (2017) and The Rise of Skywalker (2019).
However, the pressure to maintain the upward momentum turned toxic. “[I] having to say yes to everything,” he said of the pressure he put on himself. “It’s tiring and it’s stressful, and then dealing with the fact that you have to perform at the end,” adding, “There are many different ways careers can wear out. you, but the artistic way is unique.”
His work schedule left him feeling “exhausted, panicked and paranoid,” he said. “You are tired of your own dream, the thing you love.”
Being able to talk openly about stress is important, which is why he says he surrounds himself with trusted friends and family who will listen without judgment.
“You choose your circle where you can accept how you express yourself. Once you feel that acceptance, they can help you, help motivate you,” he said. “It’s your safe place as a celebrity. So you can actually complain [about the downsides of fame].”
“I still want to say that shit,” he continued. “Like, this is petty, but I’ll tell my sisters, ‘Oh, this is just how I feel.’ And they’re going to say, ‘This is petty, but yeah, I hear you.’ Whereas on earth it’s going to be like, “You’re a mean millionaire, you idiot. Do you know what I had to do this morning and you’re complaining about it?” Let me just chill and complain to the people who understand that I’m not trying to be mean. It’s just today, I’m sad. I experience [this phase of my career] as a more balanced person who is willing to improve. I know it’s a weird, random thing to say, but I’m willing to say sorry.”
Nevertheless, it Breaking star knows how lucky he is – and the responsibility he has to be a role model. Harnessing that has helped him find the gratitude he needs to push through the tough days.
“You have two options as an artist,” he said. “Fix your tiredness or acknowledge that you’ve come and express your extreme gratitude. When I was broke and no casting director wanted to see me, if someone said, ‘We’re going to fly you out tomorrow, take care of your hotel , shoot one Men’s health tire, then fly back,’ I would cry with joy. Yeah, I just got off a plane, but that’s what rappers sing about. I live it.”
Using his platform to speak about important issues — like in 2020, when his speech at a Black Lives Matter protest went viral — has welcomed its fair share of “backlash,” he says, but for the proud Nigerian actor, it’s par for the course. .
“Our empowerment is not your demise,” he said of Black empowerment. “This is who I am. I will speak about what I believe in and make sure that what I do is aimed at supporting the people.”
Boyega is no stranger to speaking out about the mistreatment of black actors in film. Last year, he made headlines after complaining about how actors and characters of color have been portrayed lately Star Wars films, tells British GQ that he felt marginalized throughout the filming process.
“What I would say to Disney is don’t bring in a black character, market them to be much more important in the franchise than they are, and then have them pushed to the side,” he said at the time. “It’s not good. I’ll say it straight.”
Reflecting on his earlier comments, Boyega acknowledged that Men’s health that he hopes his position can create accountability for leaders in the field.
“I’m the one who brought this to the fore,” he explained. “At least those who enter it now, after my time, [they’re] cool,” and points out that now Lucasfilm will “make sure you’re well supported and at least you [now] go through this franchise knowing that everyone is going to have it [your] back. I’m glad I spoke out at the time.”
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