Ncuti Gatwa was ‘incensed’ after being told ‘white people wouldn’t understand’ Sex Education character

Ncuti Gatwa in a black and white shirt and black and yellow neck tie.

As Ncuti Gatwa graduates from the halls of Moordale School to the hills of Hollywood, he is getting candid about his time behind-the-scenes on Netflix’s Sex Education.

The 30-year-old actor became a breakout sensation in 2019, playing the extroverted and unfiltered gay student Eric Effiong in the teen comedy drama. 

Before his time on the show, which will end this year with its fourth season, Gatwa was known only for his roles on the theatre stage.

Yet despite Sex Education propelling him to the upper echelons of stardom – so much so that he has secured roles in Greta Gerwig’s monster hit Barbie and become the fifteenth Doctor in Doctor Who – he’s more than ready for it to end.

Chatting to Rolling Stone UK, Gatwa revealed that the show wasn’t always the rip-roaring good time that the final product makes it out to be. Plus, as an actor new to the small screen, Gatwa explained that he learnt very quickly about the questionable opinions of those working behind the scenes.

A picture of Ncuti Gatwa in Sex Education, which Netflix was praised for before Before greenlighting Q-Force. (Sam Taylor/Netflix)
Ncuti Gatwa plays Eric Effiong in Sex Education. (Sam Taylor/Netflix)

“Being on [Sex Education] fast-tracked me into the downsides of this industry,” he shared.

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“I remember being told by an executive producer that white people wouldn’t understand my character, Eric, which incensed me. There’s an entire show there for white people to understand.”

It’s an issue he’s touched on before: speaking to British Vogue back in June, he revealed that he had to bat away producers who were unsure of the way he was improvising certain lines.

“There were producers coming up to me like, ‘This ad-lib, I don’t feel like white people will understand it… And I was like, ‘It’s not for white people to understand. There are many white people in this show for white people to understand, but I want this other group of people to understand Eric’.”

According to Gatwa, the producers eventually got it, and understood that the viewpoint he was bringing to the script was invaluable. Yet still, he struggled with the show’s direction. 

While Sex Education is often lauded as one of the most unvarnished depictions of youth, from the queerness through to the confusion, Gatwa admitted to Rolling Stone that the process of making it “wasn’t always joyous”.

“It was very hard; it was such a big show,” he shared. “When you’re telling stories that haven’t been seen before, there’s always a battle as to how to tell them. It wasn’t always joyous. I feel like we’ve outgrown it and we’ve given everything we can to it.”

Despite Gatwa’s mixed feelings about the show reaching its conclusion, he has promised that Eric “gets the ending I wanted for him” – whether that includes finally reuniting with Adam Groff (Connor Swindellss) is yet to be seen.

As for the fans, they remain extremely excited about the upcoming fourth season, which premieres on Netflix on 21 September. 

In the recently-released trailer, the cast appear in a new school named Cavendish College, following the collapse of Moordale Secondary School at the end of the third season. Otis Milburn (Asa Butterfield) prepares to give his new schoolmates the down low on his history as a school sex therapist. 

Maeve Wiley (Emma Mackey) appears to be starting a difficult time at a new school in the US, while the remaining cast members are having sex – so, so much sex.

Doctor Who
A new look at Ncuti Gatwa’s Doctor Who has sent fans into a tailspin (@bbcdoctorwho/ Twitter)

Nctui Gatwa stans need not worry about his diary though; it’s pretty full.

In addition to becoming Just Ken alongside Ryan Gosling in Barbie later this month, he’s got his tenure as the Doctor in Doctor Who to look forward to. He’ll be joined by LGBTQ+ stars including Jinkx Monsoon, Yasmin Finney and Pete MacHale, in what will unquestionably be the BBC show’s queerest series yet.

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