THE Scottish-Rwandan actor who stars as Eric Effiong in the hit Netflix show Sex Education has spoken out about his experience with homelessness.

Ncuti Gatwa plays the gay best friend of the series’ protagonist, high school student Otis (Asa Butterfield). Gatwa’s performance has been praised across the board with the Guardian saying his performance “pushes back against the trope of the gay best friend”, and Dazed saying he “steals the show”.

The 27-year-old was born in Rwanda but raised in Scotland, primarily in Edinburgh and Dunfermline. He graduated from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland with a BA in Acting in 2013.

However, Gatwa said that when he moved from Scotland to London, he was unable to cope with the financial burden and ended up without a home.

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Speaking to The Big Issue magazine, Gatwa said: “I am from Scotland and moved down to London when I was 21. I was working constantly – and at some good places – I spent a year at the Globe Theatre, I did a lot of work at Kneehigh, who are a physical theatre company. But you have to feed yourself, you have to get to work, with rent, bills, travel, days off from temping to go to an audition. I couldn’t seem to handle it all financially.

“I was supposed to move into a new place and it fell through. So for five months before Sex Education, I was ‘couch surfing’ among all my friends. I didn’t have a home. I was homeless.

“The only thing stopping me from being on the streets was the fact I had friends. But you can use up that goodwill. Or you feel scared to ask people for help. Your pride kicks in.

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“So my life before Sex Education was so different. To go to my audition, I had to get my friend to transfer me 10 quid so I could top up my Oyster card.”

Gatwa, now an ambassador for youth homelessness charity Centrepoint, was working as a perfume salesperson at Harrods at the time. “I was thinking it was so mad, because if someone was to see me on the street – on my way to Harrods in my trenchcoat and brogues – because you have to be so well-polished – they would never believe I was about to spend two hours trying to find where I could sleep that night ...

“I couldn’t believe I was homeless and working in Harrods. How many people must be going through this in London?”

The second series of Sex Education launches on Netflix on January 17.