Sex Education’s Ncuti Gatwa: ‘Black, gay experience isn’t often told’

Ncuti Gatwa

Ncuti Gatwa, who stars in Netflix’s hit show Sex Education, has said that it’s important to represent the experiences of the black, gay community because TV only offers a “narrow representation” of gay people.

The 26-year-old star, who plays Eric, an openly gay black teen, told PinkNews that the acting world needs to have more diversity.

Sex Education follows Otis (Asa Butterfield), whose best pal is Eric, and his friend Maeve (Emma Mackey), as they set up a sex clinic at their school, based somewhere in the UK, in order to give their peers relationship therapy sessions.

Ncuti Gatwa: It’s important to represent the experience of black, gay teenagers

“It’s very important to see a black gay teen represented,” Gatwa told PinkNews of his character.

“I think there’s quite a narrow representation of gay people on TV and I think that we need to push that.

“Being a minority within a minority is an extremely difficult thing.”

—Ncuti Gatwa

“And I think that we need to allow for a lot more stories to be told.”

He added: “The black gay experience isn’t one that is often told. And that community is struggling to find its feet because being a minority within a minority is an extremely difficult thing.”

Sex Education has been praised for its inclusion of LGBT+ characters and relationships. 

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As well as Gatwa’s character, it features a lesbian couple and two lesbian mums.

Gatwa also weighed in on the debate over whether gay acting roles should be reserved for gay actors.

Ncuti Gatwa: We need more LGBT+ actors

In December, American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace actor Darren Criss said he would stop playing gay parts so that gay actors could play them instead.

And in August, Jack Whitehall, who is straight, came under fire in when he was cast as Disney’s first openly gay character in upcoming film Jungle Cruise.

“There’s quite a narrow representation of gay people on TV and I think that we need to push that.”

—Ncuti Gatwa

Asked whether gay actors should be cast in gay roles, Gatwa responded: “I’ve not yet reached a decision, however, I do agree that there needs to be more diversity in terms of LGBTQIA+ actors.”

The star added: “I think it’s quite hard in terms of having people believe that you can play more than just what your sexuality as an actor is.

“However, at the same time, I do believe that all actors should be able to play roles out with personal lived experience because that’s what we do as actors.”

Gatwa highlighted how he has previously played parts as wizards and “scallywags,” despite not having personal experience of those roles himself.

“I’ve played many different roles… and I’m neither of them,” he said.

Gatwa continued: “Actors should be able to play whatever they’re asked to. But at the same time it would be nice if room was made for everyone to be able do so.”

Sex Education is streaming now on Netflix globally.

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