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Sex Education 2’s Ncuti Gatwa talks patriarchal society and the joys of the barbershop

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Colin Crummy
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Ncuti Gatwa plays Eric effiong in Netflix's sex education

Five Minute Philosopher is a weekly series in which Stylist gets profound with people we love.What will the Sex Education actor make of our existential questions?

What is the meaning of life? 

To live it and enjoy it in a way that’s going to make you the happiest.

What is the difference between right and wrong? 

An opinion. Right and wrong is subjective, isn’t it?

Where is your happy place? 

The barbershop. Hair in the black community is such a big thing culturally. The barbershop is a place for black men to socialise, catch up and bond. It’s the same for black women in the salon. Going there is my favourite thing to do in the week. You catch up with people, someone comes around with food, someone else is selling something. I connect with my culture, with my brothers and come out with a fresh trim, looking sexy.

Nature or nurture?

Nurture. The world has been set up in such a way that we don’t even realise how ingrained certain things are, like how much we live in a patriarchal society or how institutional racism is ingrained in how we see the world. We don’t realise how many things are being set in stone, in our heads.

Is it more important to be liked or respected? 

Respected. What if someone horrible likes you? Do you want that? Respect is more important, definitely.

If you could be remembered for one thing what would it be?

That I am a Rwandan Scotsman who is good.

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Who or what is your greatest love?

What: plantain. Who: my mum. She’s the love of my life. She’s the best thing in the world.

When did you last lie?

To Santa, about being nice.

Does the supernatural exist?

No. You mean like vampires and stuff? No, I don’t believe in that.

Are you fatalistic?

No. You make your own destiny.

What is your greatest fear? 

Being forgotten or left behind.

Animals or babies? 

The world’s over-populated at the moment, so animals.

What talent do you yearn for? 

To dance. I used to be a really great dancer. I used to do it quite a lot and then I stopped. Now my body has forgotten all that training.

Do you like to be complimented?

 Most definitely. That’s a Libra trait. Being a Libra also means it’s very difficult for me to make decisions. So these questions are hard for me.

Do you have a high pain threshold?

 I do actually. How do I prove that? I guess I’m just quite tough. Needles don’t scare me.

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Cover of Why I'm No longer Talking to white People about race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
Ncuti Gatwa is inspired by Reni Eddo-Lodge's book and having difficult but necessary conversations.

What book do you recommend most to others? 

Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge. It’s a great book and it really opened my eyes to understanding systemic racism. It’s not racial slurs in the street, it’s institutional. The title is provocative but it’s a conversation that is necessary and which for a lot of people, who are well intended, it is tricky but important to hear. It’s quite like Sex Education in a way; it’s important to have uncomfortable conversations.

Which lesson has been the hardest to learn? 

That you don’t have to please everyone. I learned that lesson by exhausting myself. I felt really drained because I was doing things for other people. I wasn’t taking any time for myself, to recoup. It’s OK to say no.

What food sums up happiness? 

Plantain.

What have you never understood? 

The solar system.

What is the one thing you want to know before you die?

I want to know what happens after I die.

Are you scared of dying or what happens when you die? 

I’m not really scared of death, just a painful one. I’m scared of that.

Quinoa or Quavers? 

Quinoa. It’s healthier. That’s a bit boring but I am super into my greens and my grains. I’m very into my health food.

Sex Education series 2 is available on Netflix now

Images: Bloomsbury Circus, Press Association 

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