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Sex Education’s Ncuti Gatwa on representing “a minority within a minority”

Sex Education is a Netflix favorite among young adult and adult viewers. When it premiered on the streaming platform back in the summer of 2019, it was an instant smash hit. But as with great shows, the cast didn’t anticipate Sex Education’s profound success — including Ncuti Gatwa who plays the flamboyant Eric Effiong on the series.

While bona fide actors like Gillian Anderson (Jean Millburn) and the show’s star Asa Butterfield (Otis Millburn) already had big names before signing on to the show, Sex Education introduced actors who were launched into fame overnight. Gatwa along with Emma Mackey (Maeve Wiley), Connor Swindells (Adam Groff) and Aimee Lou Wood (Aimee Gibs) was one of them.

Gatwa’s character is one of the show’s fan favorites. In a recent interview with the Guardian, Gatwa explained why Eric’s story resonated with viewers and the importance of representing two marginalized groups in one character.

He describes Eric as “a minority within a minority, so that’s doubly hard.” In the show, Gatwa plays a black gay man.

“I felt, perhaps, if you are from that culture and that background, and are having a situation where you’ve got somebody gay or LGBTQIA+ in your family, and you’re struggling with it, you can watch the show and be like: ‘It’s fine to love and embrace my child.’”

In the show’s first season, Eric’s father is evidently concerned about his son’s safety. But he sets a good example as it is later revealed that he has fully accepted his son. “He’s just scared for the world his son is going to inhabit, and that is very human.”