Ncuti Gatwa, age 29, is a well-known Rwandan-Scottish actor for his role as Eric Effiong in the Netflix series Sex Education. The BBC has announced that Gatwa will be the next Doctor Who, the most iconic role in British television. He will be the first Black actor to play the lead role on the popular science fiction show, where he will play the 14th Time Lord.
Gatwa would have likely followed in his father’s footsteps in the field of theology if his acting skills had not caught the attention of his drama teacher when he was 17 years old. In 2013, he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Acting from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, where he honed his acting skills.
He moved from Scotland to London in search of additional acting opportunities. His breakthrough came in 2018 when he was cast as Effiong, a young gay British-Nigerian who is best friends with the show’s main character, Otis, in Sex Education. According to Mail Online, Gatwa’s character has become one of Sex Education’s most beloved actors. His selection as the next Doctor Who demonstrates his acting ability.
However, Gatwa’s path to success has been arduous. He was born in Rwanda, but his family fled to Scotland during the 1994 genocide when he was only two years old. His family resided in university housing in Scotland while his father pursued a doctorate in philosophy and theology. According to the Guardian, his father was forced to leave the family after completing his Ph.D. because he could not find work as an academic in the UK.
Gatwa was subjected to racial abuse while attending school in Scotland, and when he first arrived in London to pursue an acting career, he was homeless and struggling financially. Even borrowing $10 from friends was not enough for him to afford the tube fare to auditions.
“Being a 25-year-old man without money or a job diminished my sense of self-worth,” he was quoted as saying by the Guardian. “Rejection grew intolerable. Auditions were not merely opportunities to act; they were lifelines.”
“I was unable to handle everything financially. I was supposed to move to a new residence, but the move fell through. Before Sex Education, I, therefore, spent five months couch-surfing with all of my friends. I had no place to live. I had been homeless. Friends were the only thing preventing me from living on the streets,” Gatwa explained.
He told BBC that becoming the new Doctor Who feels incredible. “It is truly an honor. This role is an institution and so iconic,” he explained. In 2023, Gatwa will make his debut as the Time Lord. Sunday’s Bafta Television Awards nominated him for Sex Education. The actor has already received a Scottish Bafta and a Rose d’Or Award for his performance in Sex Education.