John Boyega: From Hidden Talent To Breakout Star

John Boyega

John Boyega/Photo: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images for Disney

Best known for his lead role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens,  actor/producer John Boyega has certainly come a long way from his crime ridden South London upbringing.

Born John Adedayo Adegboyega, he grew up on a council estate in Peckham littered with guns, knives, gangs and death. After discovering his love for theater at age 9, the actor kept his passion under wraps.

 “Not a lot of people knew” about his acting, a source once told the Telegraph. “Everyone else does football when they’re young,” he explained. “John didn’t play football, he was more interested in acting, so he didn’t want to make a big fuss about it.”

It was his secret hobby of acting, friends say, that kept Boyega out of trouble. “You would never see John on the street or hanging around gangs though,” Daniel Ross, a childhood neighbor told The Telegraph. “I only saw him in church or in acting school.”

“A lot of boys in his year are now in prison or dead,” Ross continued. “Everyone was going down one route towards the end of school – taking drugs, selling drugs, gangs, that sort of thing – but John went down another. I am so thankful he got out of it.”

Of course, having a good head on his shoulders could be attributed to a healthy support system at home. His father, a Nigerian, was a preacher and wanted his son to follow in his footsteps. “I had a chat with John’s father when he was about 12 or 13. As long as John stayed out of trouble they were quite happy. And as John made his way, his father began to think there was some wisdom in it,” Boyega’s drama teacher told The Telegraph.