On Sept. 14, British actor John Boyega announced via Twitter that he had quit his role as a Jo Malone ambassador after being cut from an advert he starred in and directed for the fragrance brand.
The original video, entitled A London Gent, was shot in Boyega's hometown in the area he grew up, Peckham, and celebrated his "personal story." It saw the actor hanging around with his real-life friends and family, walking through the South London neighbourhood, and riding a horse through a local park.
However, Boyega, who was Jo Malone's first male ambassador, was later replaced with a Chinese actor when the advertisement was recreated for the Chinese market.
Following the brand's decision, the actor announced that he would be stepping down from the global ambassador role on Twitter. He said Jo Malone's decision to re-shoot the film "without consent or prior notice" was "wrong."
In a series of tweets, he shared: "'Their decision to replace my campaign in China by using my concepts and substituting a local brand ambassador for me, without either my consent or prior notice, was wrong.
"The film celebrated my personal story – showcasing my hometown, including my friends and featuring my family."
In the Chinese version of the short film, the scenes are close to identical to the original but actor Liu Haoran takes Boyega's place. Unlike the original, which was filmed in multicultural, diverse Peckham, the Chinese ad features no Black talent.
While Boyega acknowledges that brands use a "use a variety of global and local ambassadors" he noted on Twitter that "dismissively trading out one's culture this way is not something I can condone."
He ended: "It’s back to back but I assure you this will be dealt with swiftly. I don’t have time for nonsense. We press on and strong. Stay blessed people."
Jo Malone has apologised for their "misstep" and released a statement to the Hollywood Reporter.
"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," the brand admitted. "While we immediately took action and removed the local version of the campaign, we recognise that this was painful and that offence was caused," they 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."
As noted by BBC News, this is not the first time the Chinese advertising world has come under fire for its treatment of Boyega. During the 2016 press run for Star Wars: The Force Awakens fans noticed Boyega's lead character Finn had been shrunken in size on the film posters.
Boyega's has become a prominent voice during the Black Lives Matter movement and the actor is no stranger to speaking out against racial bias. For example, the actor has previously called out Disney for "sidelining" its actors of colour. “It’s so difficult to maneuver,” Boyega said told GQ. “You get yourself involved in projects and you’re not necessarily going to like everything, [but] 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.”