John Boyega: Hollywood is now ready to tell African stories

Lagos, Nigeria CNN  — 

British-Nigerian actor John Boyega has said the success of the “Black Panther” movie means Hollywood wants to produce more African stories.

“Because of the success of ‘Black Panther,’ now Hollywood wants African stories and I think Nigeria is at the forefront of that,” he said during a recent Lagos visit.

“They are ready to see all these epic stories that we have in Nigeria,” Boyega added.

“Black Panther” has been a global hit, making nearly $1.3 billion in the box office since opening in mid-February. Since its release, a series of high profile African film and TV shows have been announced.

Sony TV pictures recently announced a collaboration with Nigeria’s EbonyLifeTV. They will work together to produce three TV projects – including a series on a 19th century all-female African force, the “Dahomey Warriors.”

Lupita Nyong’o will also produce and star in the movie version of Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s bestseller “Americanah,” as well as the the Trevor Noah biopic “Born a Crime,” where she will play the mother of “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” host.

But not everyone in Hollywood is optimistic that the success of “Black Panther” will translate to more black stories being told.

Marvel star Samuel L. Jackson has said he doesn’t think it will change Hollywood’s thinking. “I’m not positive that Black Panther is going to change the dynamic of black stories being told in Hollywood and being accepted all over the world,” he said in an interview with Vogue Arabia.

Nonetheless, Boyega is positioning himself to be a bridge between Nigeria’s Nollywood film industry and Hollywood.

The 26-year-old actor said he founded his production company Upper Room Entertainment in 2015 to tell stories from the continent.

“My goal was to create original stories and I wanted to be a part of the development of stories,” he said.

The Star Wars star was recently on a whirlwind tour, visiting Lagos and the capital Abuja, and talking to key people in the entertainment industry on how to position the local industry for global success.

Boyega spoke at a Q&A session with Nigerian filmmaker Kemi Adetiba after the Accelerate TV screening of his new movie “Pacific Rim Uprising,” which he also co-produced.

He emphasized that training local Nigerian talent in all aspects of film making is part of his future ambitions to grow the industry to a world class standard.

“We will have Nigerian people, young people present on set, shadowing those professionals so that they’re constantly learning and knowing what skills they need to learn,” he said.

“And its not just acting, it’s cinematography, it’s all the basics of the crew that matter…those are the fundamental big plans.”