Jo Malone London Apologizes to John Boyega After Reshooting, Recasting Short He Directed

EE British Academy Film Awards 2020 - Red Carpet Arrivals
John Boyega attends the EE British Academy Film Awards ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall.
WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Actor and producer John Boyega has emerged in recent months as a voice speaking truth to power. Earlier in the summer, Boyega delivered an impassioned speech in support of Black Lives Matter. More recently, he critiqued Disney’s handling of race and representation in the latest Star Wars trilogy. Boyega has established himself as a talented actor with an ambitious artistic vision — which makes the behavior of fragrance company Jo Malone London all the more frustrating.

According to a new report in The Hollywood Reporter, Jo Malone London hired Boyega to direct and star in a video promoting the company. Titled A London Gent, it featured Boyega along with friends and family, and featured a number of scenes shot in Peckham, the London neighborhood in which Boyega grew up. So far, it makes sense: a London-based company hired an actor from London to turn his vision of the city into sounds and images.

Then the commercial was reshot for the Chinese market, featuring actor Liu Haoran in the lead and removing all scenes of Black people from the video. Boyega was unaware of this decision until Jo Malone London posted the new ad on Twitter.

That this caused some controversy is a bit of an understatement. The fragrance company has since apologized to Boyega and pulled the ad. “John is a tremendous artist with great personal vision and direction,” the company said in a statement provided to The Hollywood Reporter. “The concept for the film was based on John’s personal experiences and should not have been replicated.”

In the same statement, the company also promised to “do better moving forward.” What that translates into, in practical terms, remains to be seen.

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