British-Nigerian actor John Boyega, best known for his work on Star Wars, has cut ties with Jo Malone after being replaced in a Chinese version of a commercial for the perfumier.
Last year Boyega was named the first male global ambassador for Jo Malone and went on to direct and star in an award-winning promotional short film called London Gent, based on his personal experiences. In the commercial, his close friends and family are featured as a part of the advert.
The actor recently found out through Twitter, that Jo Malone had released a Chinese version of ‘London Gent,’ using Chinese actor Liu Haoran as the lead instead. Jo Malone had not consulted Boyega, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Both videos follow the same concept which are based on Boyega’s memories, “including time at a playground, walking around his South London neighborhood, riding a white horse, and enjoying time with friends and family” as described by Jing Daily.
Boyega left, Liu right. Screengrab via Daily Mail
After receiving criticism, Jo Malone immediately pulled the Chinese version and released the following statement:
“We deeply apologize for what, on our end, was a mistake in the local execution of the John Boyega campaign. 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.”
Although the company was sold to Estee Lauder in 1999, Jo Malone responded to the recent news of her former business adding, “I am so horrified and disgusted about what has been done to John... they never spoke to him. That for me is utterly despicable and is disgusting.”
On YouTube, many were quick to point out that the Chinese version seemed to have “no meaning at all, a guy was riding horse and some how ended up at a party” and that “it had no soul, story and value like... Boyega’s.”
Boyega has been vocal about minorities and Black actors being pushed aside in Hollywood. In a recent interview with GQ, he firmly stated, “What I would say to Disney is do not bring out a black character, market them to be much more important in the franchise than they are and then have them pushed to the side. It’s not good. I’ll say it straight up.”
He was the only character in the recent Star Wars reboot that received threats of boycotting due to his race. When the Chinese Stars Wars poster was first released in 2015, many were quick to point out that Boyega’ character “was shrunken to a half-eaten dumpling” when compared to the UK version.
READ MORE: Is the Chinese Star Wars Poster Racist?
[Screengrabs via Jo Malone videos]