In July 2018, actor Ahmed Best, best known for his role as Jar Jar Binks, the controversial and much-maligned character from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, tweeted about the backlash he faced and his thoughts of suicide following that reaction.
Now, in a new video for SoulPancake (via io9), Best opens up even more about his career, from his experience filming Phantom Menace to his hope for the role. He details his shock from the “hate, venom and anger” directed towards him about the character and the impact that had on him, especially the criticism that came from, as he says, “a racially motivated point of view.”
And he opens up about that tweet, how he came to take the photo, and the outpouring of support he received and the powerful responses he got from fans and readers who had experienced a similar moment.
It’s a powerful, layered story that goes far deeper than anyone could have realized at the time, hitting on racist tropes in entertainment, depression, and the way artists are intertwined with their creations and how resonant those connections are.
If you want to talk to someone or are experiencing suicidal thoughts, text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Here is a list of international resources.