Actress Daisy Ridley has a lot going for her. She’s young, an A-list celebrity, and the star of one of Hollywood’s biggest franchises: Star Wars.
But don’t, under any circumstances, call her privileged.
During a recent interview with The Guardian, Daisy became defensive when she was asked if her privileged upbringing helped her navigate the world of fame compared to her peers.
“The privilege I have – how? No, genuinely, how?”
The interviewer Nosheen Iqbal elaborated that growing up in an upper-middle-class family may have worked in Daisy’s favor. She wasn’t trying to criticize her or imply that Daisy didn’t work hard to get to where she is now. But, Ridley still didn’t get it. She even went as far as to compare her experience to her co-star John Boyega.
Yes, a white affluent woman compared herself to her black male co-star.
“Well, no, because, no. John grew up on a council estate in Peckham and I think me and him are similar enough that…no.”
Daisy was born Westminister and raised in the wealthy town of Maida Vale. She even attended the private boarding school Tring Park School for the Performing Arts, which boasts alumni like Julie Andrews, Jane Seymour, and Lily James.
But according to her publicist, Daisy’s mother and father (a banker and photographer, respectively) didn’t pay for Daisy’s boarding school education, she received a scholarship. Because apparently, scholarships somehow negate privilege.
Iqbal then asked Daisy if her education gave her a better sense of confidence, to which Daisy said,
“No. No. I think, also, it has taken me a little while to be OK with it. I was always fairly confident, and I think that comes from being part of a big family who are all quite chatty.”
Honestly, is it surprising that Daisy doesn’t think that her privilege gave her a leg up? No. Most people who benefit from privilege never seem to think that their privilege helped them in any way.
But for her to believe that she and John, someone who faced disadvantages due to race and economic status, somehow had the same experiences when it came to getting noticed by Hollywood, is not only tone-deaf, it’s offensive.
Daisy was born to an already established family. She grew up benefiting from generational wealth and having family members in the industry.
Her paternal grandfather was a knight and was head of the Engineering Secretariat for the B.B.C from 1950 to 1965. His brother Arthur Ridley was a playwright and starred in the popular British sitcom, Dad’s Army. Her mother comes from a long line of land gentry, social class in England that owned large amounts of land and made all their income by leasing it out to others.
Boyega’s life was the total opposite of Daisy’s.
Boyega, who plays Finn in the franchise, was raised on a housing estate in Peckham, South London to Nigerian immigrant parents. His mother was a caretaker for the disabled and his father was a Pentecostal minister.
He didn’t have the ability to attend a prestigious performing arts school on a scholarship. Instead, he went to Theatre Peckham, an after-school learning theater specifically for adolescents living in South London.
Not only that, but once he got the role of Finn and became a bonafide Hollywood star, the news of his casting sparked racist attacks online, something that many actors of color deal with when they enter a predominately white film franchise. In 2015, #BoycottStarWarsVII began to trend, all because fanboys couldn’t stand to see Boyega in a stormtrooper uniform. Ironic seeing as James Earl Jones and Billy Dee Williams were in the original trilogy.
Posters for the film in China even made Boyega’s picture smaller, completely minimizing Boyega’s role in the movie.
John didn’t let the racist attacks phase him though. Speaking to the New York Times in 2015, he said,
“They are merely victims of a disease in their mind. To get into a serious dialogue with people who judge a person based on the melanin in their skin? They’re stupid, and I’m not going to lose sleep over people.”
After thinking about what Iqbal said, Daisy tried to redeem herself.
“I’m not saying what you’re saying is wrong. I’ve just never been asked that before, so I’m like, oh. I don’t think so.”
It’s clear that Daisy isn’t coming from a place of malice when it comes to her privilege, but she is coming from a place of ignorance. For the first time, she was forced to examine her privilege and clearly she was caught off guard. Maybe she can take this time to learn and understand the leaps and bounds that John and countless performers of color have to go through just to get a seat at the table.
READ THIS NEXT
Feature photo: Star Wars / Facebook