Real Talk

‘Doctor Who’ star Ncuti Gatwa gets real about Black acceptance in Hollywood

Gatwa has enjoyed newfound success. After his scene-stealing role as Eric Effiong in Sex Education, he went on to play one of several Kens (alongside Sex Education alum Emma Mackey) in Barbie. Now, he’s starring in Apple TV+’s Masters of the Air and will take on the fifteenth incarnation of Doctor Who in the new season.

While on the surface, many may see an overnight success, but Gatwa honed his craft for years. Yet, he called out a common experience many Black people face, whether in school, “Corporate America,” or in Hollywood. And he did not mince his words.

In an interview for Attitude Magazine, Gatwa discussed how Sex Education helped him to get work on his internalized homophobia, filming a very queer season of Doctor Who (along with Jinkx Monsoon and Jonathan Groff), and the importance of on-screen representation. But he also discussed feeling like he needed to be exceptional in order to be loved.

“We’re trained to be like, ‘If I’m not exceptional, I won’t be loved,’” Gatwa said. “Certainly, I think that was my thing. So, yeah, I think I’m just learning now like, ‘Oh, you are allowed to be loved.’”

While Gatwa couldn’t pin whether these feeling came from his upbringing or societal expectations, he did call out the disparities many Black people experience in society.

“You don’t have to be excellent or aspire to that term, ‘Black excellence,'” Gatwa said. “What the hell? There’s so much white mediocrity that gets celebrated, and Black people, we have to be absolutely flawless to get half of [that] anyway.”

Whether it’s in entertainment or nonprofit, systemic boundaries continue to plague marginalized communities. While Gatwa has reached a new pinnacle of success, in spite of these challenges, he was quick identify that his experiences weren’t typical of most Black queer people.

“So, I’m slowly training myself out of that and being like, ‘No sh*t. You deserve love just for existing,’” Gatwa said. “And that has taught me to be a lot more loving as well, in a weird way.”

Doctor Who premieres on May 10.

Don't forget to share:

Read More in Entertainment
The Latest on INTO