Jo Malone London apologises to John Boyega after replacing him in Chinese advert

Ben Arnold
·Contributor
·3-min read
John Boyega poses for photographers upon arrival at the Bafta Film Awards, in central London, Sunday, Feb. 2 2020. (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)
John Boyega (Credit: Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)

British fragrance maker Jo Malone London has apologised to John Boyega for re-shooting an ad that he wrote, directed and starred in, which was then released for the Chinese market.

The ad was recast with the Chinese actor Liu Haoran, and featured many of the original elements of Boyega's work, including a scene in which Boyega is riding a horse in a park.

Where Boyega's film, called A London Gent, featured a multi-cultural cast and was shot around his home neighbourhood of Peckham, south-east London, the Chinese reshoot contained no black faces at all.

In a statement to THR, the company said: “We deeply apologise for what, on our end, was a mistake in the local execution of the John Boyega campaign.

Read more: John Boyega slams Disney over sidelining his character

“John is a tremendous artist with great personal vision and direction. The concept for the film was based on John’s personal experiences and should not have been replicated.

“While we immediately took action and removed the local version of the campaign, we recognise that this was painful and that offence was caused. We respect John, and support our partners and fans globally. We are taking this misstep very seriously and we are working together as a brand to do better moving forward.”

It said that it had also apologised to Haoran for the incident.

The original film, released last year after Boyega was named a global ambassador for the brand, featured the actor with real-life family and friends.

The company celebrated its nomination for an industry media award just a few weeks ago.

Boyega as become one of the most outspoken Black British actors on the subject of inequality, going viral with his impassioned speech during the Black Lives Matter protests in London.

The Star Wars star also excoriated Disney in an interview with GQ recently, accusing the studio of using him to market the movies, and then all but abandoning his character's story.

Read more: John Boyega has ‘moved on’ from Star Wars

“Like, you guys knew what to do with Daisy Ridley, you knew what to do with Adam Driver. You knew what to do with these other people, but when it came to Kelly Marie Tran, when it came to John Boyega, you know f*** all,” he said.

“So what do you want me to say? What they want you to say is, ‘I enjoyed being a part of it. It was a great experience...’ Nah, nah, nah. I’ll take that deal when it’s a great experience. They gave all the nuance to Adam Driver, all the nuance to Daisy Ridley. Let’s be honest. Daisy knows this. Adam knows this. Everybody knows. I’m not exposing anything.”

Disney also hit headlines in 2015, after Boyega’s image was significantly reduced in size in adverts for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Watch: John Boyega calls out Disney for sidelining diverse ‘Star Wars’ characters