Sex Education star Ncuti Gatwa has spoken about how he became homeless and developed depression before appearing on the hit Netflix show.
Writing in The Big Issue, the actor explained that when he was 25 years old, having “no money or job” significantly impacted his “sense of self-worth”.
“Rejection became unbearable,” the now 27-year-old said. “Auditions weren’t just acting jobs, they were lifelines.”
The Scottish actor recalled the day he realised he was homeless, when a friend who had previously offered him help suddenly decided against it.
“One friend gave me money towards paying off the prior month’s rent and offered to let me move into their spare room rent free for a while,” Gatwa stated.
“Great, I thought. An opportunity to get back on my feet and start paying people back.”
However, on the day Gatwa was due to move in, his friend “changed his mind”.
“As I was standing on the street with my suitcases, one thought came into my head: ‘I’m homeless’,” he wrote.
The actor explained that “to the outside world everything seemed fine”, despite his financial instability.
He was working temporarily at Harrods at the time, and staying with a friend.
“I’d wake up from the double bed I shared with my best friend, leave the house without a hair out of place in a slick-looking trench coat and polished brogues,” Gatwa said.
“I would get compliments for looking so presentable. When I lost weight due to eating only one meal a day, people told me how lean and healthy I looked.”
Despite developing depression, the actor “never let people know how down I was feeling”.
“That would have been another burden for my friends to take on,” he recalled. “My mind became my biggest enemy.”
Gatwa currently stars as Eric Effiong in Netflix’s Sex Education.
The actor admitted that had it not been for his role in the show, he would have been “screwed” during lockdown.
“My lockdown, for the most part, has been quite pleasant. This is something I can say from a place of privilege,” he said.
“But I keep discussing with my flatmate how I would have managed to survive during Covid-19 if Sex Education hadn’t come into my life. I would have been screwed.”
Gatwa continued, explaining that “as an actor you have good spells and bad spells”.