Boyega: From Peckham to Hollywood - Star Wars


This story is about as unlikely as you are likely to read; only it’s true.

Last night John Boyega, born and bred in Peckham, South London, took centre stage with Hollywood's 'glitterati' including Harrison Ford, Mark Hamil and Carrie Fisher. They along with Boyega graced the Hollywood’s red carpet for the eagerly awaited Star Wars film -The Force Awakens.

So how did this working class Peckham boy end up hanging out with Hollywood’s elite? Simple. From a very early age someone looked at him and saw beyond the Black inner city stereotype and spotted his talent. At primary school a theater Director, Teresa Earls, invited him to join the theatre school for talented. This however, could only be realised by gaining financial assistance from a 'hardship fund'.

His Nigerian parents were not sure about their son's path. John's father who is a preacher hoped his son would follow in footsteps.

Boyega focused hard on his craft and ended up playing challenging, but diverse roles in an adaption of Othello, and the teen movie 'Attack the Block’.

When the Stars War Director JJ Abrams saw Boyega's work he knew he'd got the right man to play a big part in his latest film.

It is in so many ways a fascinating story, not least because of Peckham's recent history that witnessed a potentially talented life cut short. Damilola Taylor, also from Nigerian parents and just a few years older that Boyega had his potential snuffed out even before he had a chance when he was murdered by bully gangs preying on the weak.

What we learn from John 's Boyega's remarkable story shows above all that talent, genius and brilliance reside in every corner of our society and that the only reason we don’t have more Boyega’s is due to access to opportunity, doubly so if you are working class and Black. Boyega shows that when talent can flourish everyone benefits.

Finally, I’m not a great Star Wars fan, but I might just go to cheer on the Peckham boy.

Simon Woolley