Special: From Peckham To HollyWood With Blood, Sweat, and Tears

“In the midst of the crowd, a star will always seems to shine no matter the struggle and turmoil, no matter the circumstance or sacrifices. The star will always shine.” – Unknown

As most know, the new Star-Wars movie ” The Force Awakens” was released on December 17th 2015. The movie was a great hit, making over $1 billion in the first week of the release date. In the movie all actors were phenomenal, however, there is one actor who has a life story as inspiring and influential as the success of the movie it self.

The story of the boy who went from Peckham to HollyWood:John Boyega is a young Nigerian actor from Peckham in South London, who is now living the dream of most. Not many can say they have a lead role in the Top Hollywood movie “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Through hard work and consistency, John has been able to prove the masses wrong. He has reached a point where many can only dream about. A point where many actors who are older than him are still strenuously trying to attain. His story contains lessons we can all learn from, not matter what field we are striving in. If you want it bad you can’t let nothing derail you at all. The good times and bad.

Beginnings:

John is now 23. He grew up in a council estate in Peckham across the road from where the murder of Damilola Taylor took place, in 2002. Peckham was not the ideal place for a child to grow up in. During that time, it was framed around gangs, guns, and knives

“To us that was normal; it was just how we grew up.”

With all the negativity surrounding him, John found refuge in the theatre. It kept him out of trouble. The theatre was his second home. It was the only place he was seen.

John knew he had to find a way to stay far from the concoctions, and events that were occurring frequently in his home town. The theatre and his love for acting became his safe haven; a vital place that would later lead him to success.

WOM Guides: It is important to always find something that puts your mind at rest, something that connects with you on  personal level. It could be a place, hobby, or person. Whatever the case, just make sure you find one. It will help you through the tough times, and the pleasant ones.

Becoming An Actor:

As stated before, Boyega’s safe heaven was the theatre. In Peckham, there was a performing arts centre on the corner of his estate, and it was there where his talent was recognized. This recognition provided him with an invite to join theatre school, a special programme for talented children aged nine to 14, and after securing financial assistance from a hardship fund, he enrolled.

Boyega took this acting opportunity with both hands, as he spent almost every day after school in the theatre. Intially, his parents weren’t too keen on his decision to pursue acting.

“His father was a preacher, and that’s what we wanted for him too”- 

Despite all the convincing his parents finally agreed and supported his decision. As long as he stayed out of trouble they were happy.

At 16, Boyega moved to South Thames College to study performing arts, and joined the Identity School of Acting in Hackney, which helps aspiring actors from multicultural backgrounds. He enrolled at Greenwich University but as his career took off, he left to concentrate on filming.

WOM Guides: John could have suppressed his dreams and goals just to “fit in”, but if you ever give up your dreams because of others opinions, you will end up hating your life. How can you live a happy life, when you are living someones else’s dream? Sometimes you to have to stand up. Stand up to your parents, peers, and yourself.

Sometimes you have to risk it all for a dream only you can see!

Major Setbacks:

Due to constrictions of society norms, Boyega was very secretive about his passion for acting.

As young boys  growing up, John’s friends expected a common passion like football or basketball, however John was an exception.

“John didn’t play football, he was more interested in acting, “

In addition, despite his attempts to stay away from trouble, it seemed like sorrow seemed to always surround him.

Damilola Taylor, who was around the same age as Boyega and a fellow Nigerian, was found bleeding to death in a Peckham estate just before his 11th birthday. As if that wasn’t enough, another of John’s peers, Samuel Ogunro, was shot in the back of his head in a car in Peckham 2010. He was the youthful age of just 17. His murder was seen as “arranged” by a south London gang member who was in prison at the time.

Damilola Taylor, and the estate he was stabbed in

How heartbreaking these events are…. most would have allowed these obstacles to stop them in their tracks, they would have been broken and disheartened. But not John. John channeled these sets backs into his acting, he used it as motivation making him more determined to break through, and change his situation. In the end it all paid off, and he prevailed.

WOM Guides: The road will never be easy no matter how much you wish. Prepare. Prepare for times where you will feel like giving up. Prepare for the times where you feel like there’s no progress. Remember.

“Every setback is just a setup for a major comeback”.

Achievements:

Before Star Wars John received a huge opportunity that helped his breakthrough today. After a lot of hard-work and appearances in shows and movies, John got a leading role in a British movie; Attack the Block in 2011. Boyega was just 16 at the time ! In the movie Boyega was the leader of a gang in the local area that tried to defend their neighbourhood from some malevolent extra-terrestrials. The movie was  received incredibly well by the British public and other countries in the world.

From the success of that movie, opportunities flooded in. These opportunities include roles in movies such as: Junkhearts in 2011, Half of a yellow Sun in 2013, and Imperial dreams in 2014,  and John he has a main role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens as a storm trooper.

Before getting the big role in Star Wars, all others films that Boyega starred in weren’t always the major roles, but with persistent hardwork he finally got his big break. However the success doesn’t only stop at Star Wars as John has another role in a film titled The Circle, which is expected to come out in 2016.

To top if all off, John was  recently placed on the Forbes List of “Top 3o Actors, Under 30”. All this from a boy who came for a council estate in Peckham. No dream too large to chase. Sometimes the only thing stopping us from progressing is our doubts and fears!

We would believe John is still memorized sometimes by how drastically his life has changed. From the vast number of interviews, to the incredibly fan base.

Sometimes I wake up, and still can’t believe it. I was living in a council flat a few years back. Look at my house now”

So, What Can We Take From John?

Using John as an example… don’t allow your environment to be a restriction to your goals, take every opportunity that comes your way with both hands and try to use opportunities gained to your advantage. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from individuals who have your best interest at heart and are able to help you become successful in whatever career path you choose to go into.

Never be scared to stand out. Infact, be scared of being “normal”. Don’t let opinions drive you away from your true dream.

Remember you are all stars and your time to shine will definitely come in regardless of whatever you are going through.

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