John Boyega Steps Down as Jo Malone Brand Ambassador

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Actor John Boyega stepped down from his role as a global ambassador for perfume brand Jo Malone on Monday after the company chose to hire a Chinese actor to replace him in an ad he created. It was even award-winning, clutching best media campaign at the Fragrance Foundation Virtual Awards 2020.

The premise of the original campaign was a homage to London, Boyega's hometown, and a personal story that featured the actor's friends and family hanging out in his home district of Peckham.

Writing on Twitter, the British star said while he accepted that companies would use different representatives around the world, "dismissively trading out one's culture this way is not something I can condone".

The company also shot an ad tailored for the Chinese market, keeping most themes and elements from the original concept, but replacing Boyega with popular actor Liu Haoran.

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The company says it has removed the local version of the campaign and also apologised to Haoran who wasn't involved in the conception of the ad. They added, "John is a tremendous artist with great personal vision and direction".

They stated, "We deeply apologize for what, on our end, was a mistake in the local execution of the John Boyega campaign". We respect John, and support our partners and fans globally.

Some were quick to allege that racism was in play and brought up the Chinese promotional poster for the 2015 film Star Wars: The Force Awakens, where Boyega's character was featured far less prominently than in the USA version.

However, Boyega has said Jo Malone was "wrong" to have used another actor "without my consent or prior notice".

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He ended with, "I don't have time for nonsense".

In a series of tweets, Boyega said: "I have made a decision to step down as Jo Malone's global ambassador".

John is yet to publicly comment on the controversy, but has retweeted strong criticism of the revised ad, including one that read, "This is the ad John Boyega came up with and directed".

This is not the first time Boyega has faced apparent racism in China. After the killing of George Floyd, the actor was filmed speaking at a June protest in London's Hyde Park, shouting to the crowd, "I need you to understand how painful it is to be reminded every day that your race means nothing". More recently, Boyega described his experiences on the "Star Wars" films in an extensive interview with GQ, in which he detailed the lack of nuance afforded to his character. It's not good. I'll say it straight up.

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