’Star Wars’ actor John Boyega took offense to episode 5 of the second season of Spike Lee’s “She’s Gotta Have It” on Netflix.
In the episode titled, “SuperCaliFragiSexy,” Nola Darling (DeWanda Wise) and her new lust interest Olumide “Olu” Owoye (Michael Luwoye) discussed Black British actors’ impact on Hollywood versus the likes of Black American actors.
“Black British actors are better suited than black American actors because they don’t carry the burden of … fucked up black American history. Lynching, slavery, Jim Crow, all of that,” Olu remarked in the scene.
To which Nola responded, “You’re not unburdened, Olu! British ships were the dominant force in the Atlantic Slave Trade. Almost two million kidnapped Africans died in the Middle Passage. You and your Black British blokes didn’t come out unscathed. You just developed Stockholm syndrome, and fell in love with your captors.”
Nola continued, “(Black British actors) need to fall back and fall away from taking all of our roles, like we have dope, talented, trained, qualified black actors right here in the States. But at the end of the day, black brits just come cheaper”. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
The controversial comments were capped off with a shady reference to Boyega (Nola calls him “Bodega”), and the dig didn’t go unnoticed by Twitter users and the “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” actor as he responded via Twitter calling the scene and its dialogue “Trash.”
— John Boyega (@JohnBoyega) May 27, 2019
In a response letter obtained by IndieWire, ”She’s Gotta Have It” writer and supervising producer Barry Michael Cooper decided to directly address Boyega’s comments as well as the larger diaspora’s concerns with the episode’s scene.
Cooper made sure to clarify that he wrote the episode (not show creator Spike Lee) and offered to hold himself responsible for any controversy attributed to the scene.
Cooper wrote: “In all fairness, Mr. Boyega, you have every right to be incensed by the intentional mispronunciation of you and Mr. [Chiwetel] Ejiofor’s names. My apologies to you both. I wrote Nola’s politicized screed not only to be provocative, but to also bracket her riposte with a historical reference.”
Cooper also reference the 2017 Hot 97 “Ebro in the Morning interview” where Samuel L. Jackson expresses a distaste for Jordan Peele’s casting choice of Black Brit Daniel Kaluuya In “Get Out.”
“One of the many discussions we had about the relationship between Nola and Olu in that episode was the issue of African American actors losing roles to Afro-Brit actors, which was prompted by Samuel L. Jackson’s 6 March 2017 interview with Ebro Darden on the New York radio station Hot 97.” Cooper continued.
Cooper admitted that he wanted to “get folks talking” with the scene, but the moment seemed like it was only meant to rehash already settled feelings expressed back in 2017 when most agreed that black actors were black actors no matter what side of the Atlantic they came from.
Boyega did not respond further to Cooper or his comments.