John Boyega is in a galaxy of his own making.
The Star Wars The star, 30, has been working non-stop 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 spoke of how that work ethic eventually affected his mental health.
Raised in Peckham, a working-class community in London, Boyega said his ambition was the “battery power” that led him to become “a millionaire probably at 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 Rose of Skywalker (2019).
However, the pressure to maintain this upward momentum became toxic. “[I] he had to say yes to everything,” he said of the pressure he put on himself. “It’s tiring and it’s stressful, and then you have to deal with the fact that you eventually have to perform,” adding, “There’s a lot of different ways a career can be exhausting. you, but the artistic way is unique.”
His work schedule left him feeling “exhausted, frantic and paranoid,” he said. “You are tired of your own dream, the one you love.”
Being able to talk openly about stress is vital, so he says he surrounds himself with trusted friends and family who will listen without judgment.
“You choose your circle in which you can accept the way you express yourself. Once you feel that acceptance, they can help you, help motivate you,” she said. “That’s your safe place as a celebrity. So you can actually complain [about the downsides of fame].”
“I still want to say this s***,” he continued. “Well, this is trivial, but I want to tell my sisters, ‘Oh, that’s exactly how I feel.’ And they’ll be like, ‘That’s trivial, but yeah, I hear you.’ Whereas the world will be like, ‘You’re a millionaire. , you idiot. You know what I had to do this morning, and you’re complaining about it?” Let me relax and complain to people who understand that I’m not trying to be mean. It’s just that today, I’m sad. I’m experiencing [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 apologize.”
Still, the Breaking The star knows how lucky he is — and the responsibility he has to be a role model. Tapping into that helped him find the gratitude he needs to get through the tough days.
“You have two choices as an artist,” he said. “Define your tiredness or acknowledge that you came and express your extreme gratitude. When I was desperate and no casting director wanted to see me, if someone said, ‘We’re going to cast you tomorrow, take care of the hotel, I’m shooting a Men’s Health cover, then fly back,” I would cry with joy. Yeah, I just got off a flight, but that’s what rappers sing about. I live it.”
Using his platform to speak out for important causes — like in 2020, when his speech at a Black Lives Matter protest went viral — has welcomed his share of “backlash,” he says, but for the proud Nigerian actor, it’s tantamount to course .
“Our empowerment is not your undoing,” he said of Black empowerment. “That’s who I am. I’m going to speak up for what I believe and make sure that everything I do is aimed at supporting 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 were portrayed in the latest Star Wars films, narrative British GQ that he felt marginalized throughout the filming process.
“What I would say to Disney is don’t bring up a black character, promote them to be much more important to the franchise than they are, and then push them to the side,” he said at the time. “It’s not good. I’ll say it directly.”
When reflecting on his earlier comments, Boyega acknowledged this Men’s Health that he hopes his stance can create accountability for a leader in the field.
“I’m the one who brought it to the horrendous front,” he explained. “At least the people who are dealing with it now, after my time, [they’re] cool,” noting that now, Lucasfilm “will make sure you’re well supported and at least you [now] go through this franchise knowing that everyone will have [your] back. I’m glad I talked about everything at the time.”
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