British perfume brand Jo Malone London has issued an apology to John Boyega for dropping an ad he made for them and replacing him with a Chinese actor.
Boyega was last year named as the company’s first male global ambassador.
The firm re-shot the personal video the Star Wars actor made, in his home town of London, for the Chinese market.
“We deeply apologise for what, on our end, was a mistake in the local execution of the John Boyega campaign,” they said in statement.
Boyega’s sister Grace posted the Chinese version of the advert in a Twitter response.
Jo Malone London, owned by Estee Lauder, said the ad re-shoot was a “misstep”, “painful” and one that caused “offence”.
While the script for the aftershave commercial – which was originally conceived and directed by the British star – remained largely the same, it saw him replaced by another actor, Liu Haoran.
The original version, entitled London Gent, showed Boyega hanging out with friends and family in Peckham, where he grew up, but they were also removed for Chinese audiences.
‘Taking this misstep very seriously’
In a statement obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Jo Malone London said: “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,” it added.
“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.”
Both John Boyega and Jo Malone London have been contacted by the BBC for comment.
Jo Malone sold her business to Estee Lauder in 1995 and stayed on as creative director until she left in 2006. She is now the owner of Jo Loves.
It’s not the first time Boyega has fallen foul of editing for the Chinese market.
There was controversy back in 2016 when Disney unveiled a re-versioned movie poster for Star Wars: The Force Awakens in China.
Boyega’s new lead character Finn was shrunken in size, compared to the original poster.
Earlier this month, the star called for an end to black actors being “pushed to the side” by film companies.
Writers, actors and directors; including JK Rowling and Jordan Peele, also praised the 28-year-old for his emotional speech at a Black Lives Matter protest in the summer.
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