Two of Hollywood’s fastest-rising young Black stars, Zendaya (“Spider-Man: Homecoming”) and John Boyega (“Detroit”), spoke candidly about American racism and entertainment industry representation in their new cover stories for Variety’s Power of Young Hollywood issue, which debuted online yesterday (August 8).
Zendaya and Boyega are two of three actors, the other being Chloë Grace Moretz (“Kick-Ass”), featured on the covers of the annual issue. Both took the opportunity to address how racism impacts their careers, spanning from the micro (character development choices) to the macro (professional priorities). Before you read their stories in full at Variety.com, start with these revealing excerpts from their stories.
Even as she rose to prominence on her first Disney Channel series, “Shake It Up!,” from 2010 to 2013, she stayed grounded. She only agreed to do “K.C. Undercover,” which launched in 2015, if Disney made her a producer.
“When I left Disney, there weren’t any families of color on the channel,” she says. “I thought that was a big reason why I wanted to come back. I think I’ve successfully made a show that not only allows for representation but sees girls in a powerful and strong position.”
“When I was exposed to the world in ‘Star Wars,’ I also was exposed to the reality of ignorance that still exists around the world,” he says. “When I was in ‘Star Wars’ there was a semi, kind of racial discussion that was quite negative when it first came out.”
On red carpets and interviews he realized that he was being treated differently from co-stars such as Daisy Ridley and Oscar Isaac.
“I was the only person to always talk about the color of my skin,” he says. “In every interview my skin color comes up. If Daisy does an interview, her skin color is not going to come up. … It doesn’t matter what position you’re in—once you’re Black, you’re Black, and these idiots always have something to say about it.”
Check out the Power of Young Hollywood Issue on newsstands now.