So often, mainstream television gets the queer experience wrong. That’s why Rwanda-born, London-based actor Ncuti Gatwa’s role as the hilarious, horny, lovable Eric in Netflix’s Sex Education has been hailed as one of the most moving and on the money depictions of being a queer person of colour of our generation. The scene where Eric’s strict Ghanaian father reveals he’s learning from his son’s fearless decision to be his most glorious, gold-lipsticked self, captured the hearts of the show’s viewers, shooting Gatwa to prominence overnight.
Not only is Gatwa known for his work on screen, but in the theatre too – for which he’s been nominated for the prestigious Ian Charleson award. Beyond the accolades, what motivates him is remembering where he’s come from. “I’m most proud of my heritage; being able to shape people’s perception of Rwanda or Rwandans,” Gatwa says. “My mum and dad were born into nothing and came to this country with nothing. They’ve had to make so many sacrifices so I wouldn’t have to make any, and always supported me. In a small way, I’m driven by proving people wrong: because of the background I come from, I think a lot of people have doubted that I would get this far.”
They’re certainly eating their words. Next up, Gatwa will be getting back in the role of Eric. “I’m definitely looking forward to shooting Sex Ed series 2 – I love the show so much,” he says. Oh, and there’s the small task of building a house in Rwanda. “I can’t wait for that to be finished – I’m long overdue a visit back to the motherland.”