It hasn’t been long since Sex Education came out on Netflix, and with all the raves it’s been getting from everyone, it’s not really a surprise to hear that Otis, Maeve, Eric, and the rest of the cast will be coming back for a second season!
Sex Education follows a socially-awkward teenager named Otis Milburn (Asa Butterfield) – whose mom is a sex therapist – who ends up working with his schoolmate Maeve (Emma Mackey) to start a sex therapy clinic where he gives advice to all their fellow students’ issues. While he analyzes his schoolmates’ problems, he realizes that he himself might also be needing a therapy of his own.
Aside from Otis and Maeve, one of the many characters that the audience were quick to fall in love with in the series is Eric Effiong. Played by Ncuti Gatwa, Eric is Otis’ best friend who he tells everything to.
Following the announcement of the show’s season renewal, we got to chat with Ncuti Gatwa via email interview where we talked about his character, his favorite learnings from the show, and more!
Check it out here:
Can you tell us more about your character?
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Ncuti Gatwa: Eric is Otis’s best friend. He is gay, he’s black, he’s of Nigerian and Ghanaian descent . Eric is out of the closet, his parents and everyone at school knows and accepts that he is gay. He gets bullied a lot because he once got an erection on stage whilst playing the bench horn, he’s very loveable though and has a lot of love to give.
How are you the same and different from Eric?
Ncuti Gatwa: I grew up in an African household. My parents are Rwandan and they are also religious like Eric’s so I was able to relate to him. I differ from Eric as I was quite good at sports at school and I don’t think I’m as vulnerable. I don’t think I’d allow people to physically shove me around as much as Eric does. We are, however, both very loud and excitable people.
How did you prepare for the role and for some of the more challenging scenes in the show?
Ncuti Gatwa: I read the script as many times as possible, around four or five times before I started my character analysis of him. I went to drama school and received classical training and so I used those tools when approaching the script. I also made a playlist on my Apple Music with songs that I felt encapsulated the feelings and emotions he’s going through in his harder moments and would listen to them over and over before starting a scene. I had a relatively good idea of who he was already before shooting as we both come from similar backgrounds.
What was your favorite scene from the show so far? What was the hardest to film?
Ncuti Gatwa: My favorite scene to film was probably the church scene in episode 7 just before Eric goes to prom. Arriving on set that day and seeing the rest of the actors and extras in beautiful West African clothes and headdresses and being in church ( I grew up in church) was very special for me. It was such a powerful moment for me to see so many black people representing our culture for a big Netflix show. I love with working with Doreen Blackstock and Deobia Oparei who play Eric’s mum and dad as well so spending a whole day with them cracking jokes and having “banter” that was very specific to our culture was so much fun.
The hardest to film is a difficult question because literally, every day was so much fun on set, but it was probably the scene after Eric gets attacked and is walking towards the group of girls that offer him a phone to call Jean. It was very cold that night and I wasn’t in many clothes, the storyline hit home for me as I have also been a victim of hate crime.
What lessons does the series teach that you wish you knew about in your teens?
Ncuti Gatwa: I think that masculinity and strength can be multi-dimensional. It’s okay for boys to cry, be vulnerable and seek affection. Strength doesn’t always have to be bottling up your feelings or how many beers you can swig or kilos you bench in the gym. You can be vulnerable and still be strong, compassionate and open (minded and hearted). The fact that you’re gay doesn’t make you any less of a man and the fact you admit to your weaknesses doesn’t make you weak. This world is so ready to place people into boxes and I wish when I was a teenager, I knew that it is okay to step out of that box and stand in your own truth.
What do you want for viewers, teens especially, to take away from the show?
Ncuti Gatwa: Face (your) front!!! What I mean by that is don’t worry about what everyone else is doing around you, don’t get distracted by following other people’s journeys or what other people are doing. Stay true to you, focus on your journey and your path and growth. Of course, admiring people and having inspirations is good but try not to make direct comparisons with other people. I think it’s RuPaul that says “what other people think of you is none of your business”.
Sex Education is now streaming on Netflix.