John Adedayo Adegboyega, better known as John Boyega, is a British actor and producer who came to prominence for playing Moses in the comedy film, ‘Attack the Block’, in 2011. He is best known for his role as Finn in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’, which was the seventh film of the series. His first major theatre debut was his title role in ‘Othello’ in 2010. He established his own production company and acted in many films and TV shows to make a name for himself. He is a self-made man who came from a humble background in South London. His Nigerian parents wanted him to be a preacher, like his father, but supported his ambition of becoming an actor and gained financial assistance for his formal education in acting. He joined Theatre Peckham and learnt acting in his free time after attending school. He later went on to get a diploma in Performing Arts and left half way through BA in Film Studies & Media Writing to concentrate on his professional career.
Childhood & Early Life
Boyega was born on March 17, 1992 in Peckham, South London, to Nigerian immigrant parents, Abigall and Samson. His father was a Pentecost preacher who wanted him to follow his footsteps and his mother worked with disabled.
He was brought up in a public housing project and studied in Oliver Goldsmith Primary School. He recognised his flair for acting at the tender age of five and directed all his efforts towards nurturing this talent.
When he was acting in a school play at the age of nine he was spotted by Teresa Early, the director of Theatre Peckham. With a little financial assistance from a hardship fund and the support of his parents, he joined Theatre Peckham and learnt acting after school hours along with other children of South London between the age of nine and 14.
In 2003, he got admission in Westminster City School. While in school he participated in various plays. He went on to join South Thames College at the Wandsworth campus to study for a course in National Diploma in Performing Arts. He made his mark in college playing the title role in the college’s production of ‘Othello’.
Later, he went to University of Greenwich to take up BA Film Studies & Media Writing but dropped out to start his own acting career.
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He trained at the Identity School of Acting, Hackney, and had six appearances at the National Theatre and Tricycle Theatre before he was offered a role in the sci-fi comedy film ‘Attack the Block’ in 2011. He plays the role of Moses, a tough urban teen, who fights an alien invasion with his friends. This was the launch pad to his acting career.
The same year he acted in the film ‘Junkhearts’, as a drug dealer in the criminal world of gun running. He was cast in the boxing drama ‘Da Brick’ based on the life of Mike Tyson, written by John Ridley. However, he suffered a setback as the film was dropped by HBO.
He did not lose heart and his career progressed with a role in the film ‘My Murder’ in 2012. This was followed by an adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s historical fiction book about the Nigerian civil war, ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ in 2013 and ‘Imperial Dreams’ in 2014.
His real breakthrough came with a lead role in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’, where he plays Finn, a storm trooper, who leaves the force after witnessing brutalities committed by them on his first combat mission and then fights back for justice. The movie was a huge box office hit and his performance brought in favourable reviews.
He formed his own production company in 2016 and called it Upperroom Entertainment Limited. He co-produced, alongside Legendary Entertainment, and starred in the lead role in a sequel to the 2013 movie, “Pacific Rim’, called ‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’. He also starred in Kathryn Bigelow’s movie about the 1967 Detroit riots.
He will soon appear in the upcoming thriller, ‘The Circle’, co-starring Emma Watson and Tom Hanks.
His first lead stage performance was his title role in ‘Othello’ in 2010, while he was in South Thames College.
His major roles in films include Moses in ‘Attack the Block’ (2011), Jamal in ‘Junkhearts’ (2011), Ugwu in ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ (2013), Finn in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ (2015) and Jake Pentecost in ‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’ (2017).
He has appeared on the TV shows ‘Becoming Human’, ‘Law & Order: UK’ and ‘The Whale’. He also lent his voice for ‘Major Lazer’, ‘Watership Down’ and the ‘Tinkershrimp & Dutch’, where he has voiced for the main character, Dutch.
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He also voiced the video games ‘Disney Infinity 3.0’ and ‘Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens’.
He featured in the 2015 Disneyland Theme Park, ‘Star Tours – The Adventure Continues’ as Finn in a scene added for seasonal promotion.
Awards & Achievements
In 2011, Boyega appeared on the cover of ‘Screen International’ magazine, as ‘UK Stars of Tomorrow’, chosen by Fionnuala Halligan.
He has been nominated for various awards for his work and won the 2011 Black Reel Award for Best Actor for his role in ‘Attack the Block’. He also won the BAFTA Rising Star Award and Empire Award for Best Male Newcomer for his performance in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’.
Boyega keeps his personal life very private. Though he has a string of fans, his present status is single.
His relationship with his co-stars has been purely on a professional platform and personal friendship. Media has tried to link him up with his ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ co-star, Daisy Ridley, but he has refuted their claim.
His first acting experience was at the age of 5 when he acted as a leopard in elementary school.
In an interview he stated that he was a great fan of Marvel Comics and hoped to play the character Black Panther.
He has a pet cat named Oluwalogan or just Logan.
His character ‘Finn’ is featured in the Star Wars postage stamp issued by the Royal Mail Postal Service.
As of 2017, his net worth is estimated to be around $2 million.