Ncuti Gatwa’s irrepressible rise to new Time Lord. Doctor who?
Unusually, the announcement that 29-year-old Scottish actor Nkuti Gatwa would be the new Time Lord seemed to inflame non-Doctor Who fans as much, if not more, than avid followers.
After the beloved “Sex Education” star was named the 14th Doctor on Sunday, compliments poured in from both sides of the Atlantic.
Sex Education co-star Gillian Anderson called it “natural on camera”.
Casimira Kontio, founder of the London-based PR agency, wrote: “I don’t even care about Doctor Who, but I will 100% watch anything related to Nkuti Gatwa.”
Meanwhile, American writer Meacham Whitson Meriwether tweeted, “I was googling ‘what Doctor Who’ was about after I heard they were going to be played by Nkuti Gatwa.”
But until recently, he was relatively unknown. He was born in Nyarugenga, Rwanda, and grew up in Scotland, where his family moved when he was two years old during the 1994 genocide. believed in my charisma.”
The family lived in a university dormitory while Gatwa’s father studied for a doctorate in philosophy and theology. But his father was forced to leave his family and move to Cameroon because he couldn’t find an academic job in the UK, which Gatwa called “an amazing sacrifice”.
Gatwa went to church and studied the Bible as a child, when his father was a minister. He still has faith, he says, but is “not the biggest fan of organized religion.”
The idea that he could become an actor first came up when he was 17 and his drama teacher praised his talent. After studying at the Royal Conservatory of Scotland, he moved to London, where he barely made ends meet.
Before landing his breakout role on the 2018 Netflix show Sex Education, he spent time homeless burning through his savings.
“Being a 25-year-old man with no money or a job affected my self-esteem,” he wrote in The Big Issue. “Rejection has become unbearable. Auditions weren’t just an acting job, they were a lifeline.”
Working as a temp at Harrods and sharing a bed with a friend, he lost weight because he couldn’t afford to eat. He also suffered from depression but did not tell his friends because he did not want to be a “burden”.
“I get compliments for looking so presentable. When I lost weight because I only ate once a day, people told me how thin and healthy I looked,” he wrote.
He began his screen career as an extra on the 2014 BBC sitcom Bob the Servant. Two years later, he played Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream on Emma Rice’s first show at The Globe.
Perhaps an indication of his meteoric rise to fame after the release of the first season of Sex Education is that he had less than 1,000 followers on Instagram at the beginning of 2019.
Since his breakthrough as Eric Effiong, a gay teen from a British Nigerian family, he has amassed 2.6 million followers on the show, and that number is sure to rise with the announcement of Doctor Who.
The following year he was named Best Actor at the Scottish Bafta Awards and at the Sunday Bafta Television Awards he was nominated for Best Actor in a Comedy Program. He talked about people questioning his identity because of his Scottish accent.
“People really can’t understand that a black boy in a tracksuit in London is from Scotland,” he told The Independent. “People think I’m picky. I’m like, “Stop taking my Scottishness away from me. You don’t define me.”
His parents are his role models, who he says inspired him with a work ethic and sense of responsibility.
“I haven’t finished the video yet, but do something on purpose, and it’s not just about you… you’re doing it for other people who respect you and your future kids,” he told Teen Vogue.
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