Ncuti Gatwa Says Playing Eric on ‘Sex Education’ Was ‘Healing’ for Him: ‘It Undid a Lot of the Internalized Hate I Had’

Ncuti Gatwa is reflecting on the impact of “Sex Education” on his life, particularly how playing Eric Effiong “undid a lot of the internalized hate I had.”

“I’ve experienced racism my whole life, and while I always believed in myself, always knew [racists] were stupid and uneducated, I guess it did misinform my view of how the world works,” Gatwa said in an interview with Elle before the SAG-AFTRA strike. “It makes you think everyone has that opinion and you’ll constantly have to fight through life – then you learn that you don’t: you can find a tribe, you can find your people.”

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“Sex Education” is ending after four seasons on Netflix, with the final season premiering on the streamer Sept. 21. Along with Gatwa, the British teen sex comedy series stars Asa Butterfield, Emma Mackey, Gillian Anderson, Connor Swindells, Kedar Williams-Stirling, Aimee Lou Wood and more.

In the interview, Gatwa also acknowledged creator Laurie Nunn for “giving nuance to this gay, Black character and gifting him to the world.”

“He’s so fierce and unashamed,” Gatwa continued. “It was healing for me, and great for people to see themselves represented. It taught me the importance of representation: it’s so powerful and necessary.”

Gatwa recently played one of the Kens in Greta Gerwig’s hot-pink comedy “Barbie,” featuring an ensemble cast including Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, America Ferrera, Issa Rae, Simu Liu and Gatwa’s “Sex Education” co-stars Mackey and Swindells.

Gatwa revealed to Elle how anxious he initially was on the “Barbie” set, saying, “I was so nervous I hardly spoke for the first month. There was a time when I was talking to Greta and I turned around and Ryan Gosling was looking at me, and his eyes were so blue that I just… fell over. I just drowned in his eyes.”

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