Ncuti Gatwa has captured the hearts of many as Eric, the unapologetically gay student in the Netflix series Sex Education. The groundbreaking role has made the actor, who also recently appeared in Barbie, more transparent about his sexuality and coming out as queer for the first time in his career.
In an interview with Elle magazine, the 30-year-old recalled meeting a Rwandan woman at Manchester Pride who reminded him of his aunt.
“I remember being at Manchester Pride, going through the streets with all my boys, shaking my cha-chas, living it up, when I saw this woman who looked exactly like my auntie,” he told the magazine.
Gatwa, who is from Kigali, Rwanda, knew the woman was from the same cultural group as him before they had a conversation. He confirmed the woman wasn’t related to him but shared words of encouragement with her after she couldn’t understand why she was there in the first place.
View this post on Instagram
“She wasn’t – but I knew she was Rwandan … We were holding hands, and she said to me, ‘I don’t really know why I’m here. I’m just here.’ I told her, ‘Honey, you don’t need to know. You absolutely. Do not. Need. To. Know. You’re here. Be proud of who you are,'” Gatwa recalled.
The actor then opened up about his sexuality, speaking about being queer for the first time publicly.
“I had never met another queer Rwandan person before. I thought I was the only one in the world,” Gatwa said.
Despite having influential roles in movies and television series, Gatwa said he’s been the latest victim of “box-ticking” during the casting process for these projects.
“First of all, you don’t know anything about me. Secondly, tick f**king boxes! People need to be f**king seen. What are you going to do, tell the same stories? Have the same people fronting things for all of eternity? Representation and inclusivity and branching out… it enriches us all,” he shared.
While he exudes confidence with others and through his craft, Gatwa said maintaining that state of being is something he works on daily.
“Inside it’s such a mess: I have so much impostor syndrome. I have so many insecurities. I like to make other people feel happy so there’s less focus on me. I become this loud figure that’s cracking jokes all the time. It comes across as confidence, but at the heart of it, it’s not. Real confidence is something I have to work on daily.”
Gatwa also revealed he will return as Eric for the fourth season of Sex Education, which premieres September 21. He reflected on his time playing the vibrant gay teen and being his authentic self, according to Pink News.
“Shout out to [screenwriter] Laurie Nunn for giving nuance to this gay, Black character and gifting him to the world,” Gatwa said.
The 30-year-old will become the first Black Time Lord in the hit BBC series Doctor Who. In this role, Gatwa said he hopes to inspire other “marginalized people” everywhere to be themselves.
“[Doctor Who] matters for people of colour, for marginalised people who really gravitate towards the show because it’s about friendship and adventure, about union and unity.”