Between his starring roles in Barbie—which we’re ready to declare the Movie Of The Summer—the fourth season of Netflix‘s beloved Sex Education, and the beginning of his stint as the iconic Time Lord on Doctor Who this holiday season, 2023 is officially The Year Of Ncuti Gatwa.
Furthering cementing this is his gorgeous cover story for the Pride Month issue of British Vogue, featuring some stunning, eye-popping photos were Gatwa takes it all off.
The Pride feature is a big deal, and makes sense considering the actor first broke through on the global scene with his fan favorite gay role on Sex Education and will soon take over the mantle as the first gay Doctor in The BBC’s 60-year history. (Not to mention, the gays are already going gaga for Barbie.)
But, notably, Gatwa isn’t necessarily queer himself—or, at least, he’s been public about remaining private and deciding not to define his sexuality in the press.
Given this is Vogue‘s Pride Issue, the matter does come up, noting that fans may have made assumptions about Gatwa’s sexuality given his two most prominent screen roles identify as gay.
“It’s a safety and mental health thing,” Gatwa says, addressing why he’s never made any public declarations about queerness. “After Sex Education, we all became public property, to an extent. You have to fight for your right to privacy after that, but you also do feel like you owe people something. In setting my boundaries, I knew I wanted to separate the private and public, and that I never wanted my personal life to overshadow my work.”
“I also believe that everyone is on their own journey,” he continues, “and it’s important that no one feels an obligation to others in relation to what’s happening to them internally. And that’s what Sex Education is about – taking things at your own pace.”
Fair enough—we certainly respect everyone being on their own journey, especially in the wake of Gatwa’s fellow Netflix star Kit Connor feeling forced to come out amid allegations of queerbaiting from Heartstopper “fans.”
But Gatwa isn’t entirely a private person. Case in point: His very revealing Vogue spread, lensed by Tim Walker, in which he strips completely nude. Well, other than a sparkling diamond “outfit” from Tiffany & Co.
Even though he’s wearing nothing at all in the mag, Gatwa’s become known for his flashy wardrobe, which he’s also bringing to Doctor Who to give us our most fashionable Time Lord yet. In the piece, he describes his personal style as “elegant glamour with a hint of kink,” adding that he takes inspiration from everything from Beyoncé’s “Alien Superstar” to Tom Of Finland.
In fact, Gatwa says it’s through fashion that he’s able to express his pride, which he says shouldn’t be a “privilege” but “our God-given right.” He also takes pride in his freedom—whether that’s his freedom to not publicly discuss his sexuality, or in his work, like playing the out, gay high schooler Eric on Sex Education.
“He can only be himself, and that’s so fun to play,” Gatwa says of the role that changed his life. “He sits within all of these intersections – being gay, West African, religious, all these things that are not the norm at his school, which have given him so many different perspectives on and insights into the world – and that’s his power. Queer people are outsiders, and that’s why they’re all-powerful.”
And, yes, elsewhere in the piece, the actor does preview his part in Barbie as a blond, cowboy-hat-sporting Ken Doll—which only has us more excited about the movie. If that’s even possible.
He recalls director Greta Gerwig creating a fun vibe on set where anything felt possible, and where the whole cast was laughing at the end of each take. And while Gatwa didn’t reveal any further details about the nature of his role or how much “Ken-ergy” he’ll be bringing to the movie, he did offer up the following teaser:
“It’s hilarious, self-aware and really f*cking politically and socially accurate. And like, it’s already a cultural phenomenon and it’s not even out yet.”
We can barely wait ’til July 21, 2023. In the meantime, catch us celebrating The Year Of Ncuti Gatwa!