British perfume brand Jo Malone has apologized to Black actor John Boyega of Star Wars fame after cutting him out of the Chinese version of a cologne commercial he helped create, the AP reports. Jo Malone London said in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter that the ad designed for Chinese audiences was a misstep and has been removed. The recreated ad replaced Boyega with Chinese star Liu Haoran. "The concept for the film was based on John's personal experiences and should not have been replicated," it said. "We deeply apologize for what, on our end, was a mistake in the local execution of the John Boyega campaign." Jo Malone and its parent company, Estée Lauder, didn't respond to emailed requests for comment Sunday, and Boyega couldn't be reached for comment.
The original ad starring Boyega aired last year and was called "The London Gent." It features the London-born actor walking around the neighborhood where he grew up and riding a horse in a park, and it makes reference to his Nigerian heritage in a scene featuring West African attire. It's not the first time Boyega has been deleted from a China-based ad. He played a leading role as Finn in 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but he and other nonwhite characters were removed or diminished from a Chinese poster for the movie. Boyega has spoken out about Hollywood racism, recently telling GQ that Black characters have been "pushed to the side" in Disney's Star Wars franchise. (After Boyega spoke up about George Floyd, "racists flocked.")