Congratulations to Ncuti Gatwa!
Ncuti plays Eric Effiong in Netflix’s teen drama series Sex Education. Effiong is a gay Ghanian-Nigerian teen who attends a school in a fictional British countryside town. There, he enjoys his days with best friend, and main character, Otis Milburn (Asa Butterfield). But Effiong isn’t just compelled to sit on the sidelines of Netflix’s series, he is given his own storyline in season two which includes a popular, and controversial, love triangle. And now, the actor has been recognized for his performance on the show.
As Capital FM reports, Ncuti Gatwa has been nominated for the Male Performance in a Comedy Programme award for this year’s BAFTAs. He’s been nominated alongside Jamie Demetriou (Stath Lets Flats), Youssef Kerkour (Home), and Guz Khan (Man Like Mobeen). For Gatwa, who was born in Rwanda and raised in Scotland, this nomination is a triumphant underdog story. For you see, Gatwa was homeless before he landed the role in Netflix’s show.
As he told Big Issue Magazine earlier this year, “I am from Scotland and moved down to London when I was 21. I was working constantly – and at some good places – I spent a year at the Globe Theatre, I did a lot of work at Kneehigh, who are a physical theatre company. But you have to feed yourself, you have to get to work, with rent, bills, travel, days off from temping to go to an audition. I couldn’t seem to handle it all financially.”
“I was supposed to move into a new place and it fell through. So for five months before Sex Education, I was couch-surfing among all my friends. I didn’t have a home. I was homeless,” he continued. “The only thing stopping me from being on the streets was the fact I had friends. But you can use up that goodwill. Or you feel scared to ask people for help. Your pride kicks in.”
But as much as the role has changed his own life, Ncuti Gatwa also recognizes how much it has changed the lives of viewers. As the actor told Gay Times, “We need to see all types of love on our screen represented and I think [Eric’s relationship with his religious father] was a really beautiful representation of a young LGBT boy of colour and his journey through life, and his journey through his own acceptance, his culture, coming from a West African background.”
He added, “I was at UK Black Pride and the amount of people who were coming up to me specifically about the relationship between Eric and his dad was constant. And I think it really touched people to see this portrayal of this black man, this strong big black man loving his gay son.”
“It was quite beautiful, and it’s something that we don’t see often and I think that’s why it impacted people,” he reasoned. “It was an interesting portrayal of masculinity as well.”
We’re happy to see that both Ncuti Gatwa’s performance, and the writing that supported it, are being celebrated by a longstanding institution like the BAFTA awards. We look forward to seeing if he’ll win!