Perfume brand Jo Malone apologises to John Boyega for replacing actor in Chinese version of advert

John Boyega helped to create the advert but Liu Haoran replaced him for the ad in China. Credit: AP

British perfume brand Jo Malone has apologised to John Boyega after cutting him out of the Chinese version of a cologne commercial he helped to create.

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 had replaced black actor Boyega, who shot to fame with his role in Star Wars, with Chinese star Liu Haoran.

“The concept for the film was based on John's personal experiences and should not have been replicated,” the perfume company said.

Jo Malone and its parent company, Estee Lauder, didn't respond to emailed requests for comment. Boyega and his representatives also could not be reached.


Liu Haoran, the Chinese star who replaced John Boyega in the Chinese version of the advert

The original ad, starring Boyega, aired last year and was called ‘The London Gent’.

It features the London-born actor walking around the neighbourhood 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 non-white 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.