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13 “Sex Education” Actors In Their First Role, On The Show, And IRL


Asa Butterfield as Bruno in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2008):

Disney / Via

One of Asa’s first roles was as the lead in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. After the success of the film, Asa continued to act throughout his childhood in productions like Nanny McPhee Returns and Hugo.

Asa as Otis Milburn in Sex Education:


Asa has said he loves his role in Sex Education because it’s different from what he has done in the past. “A lot of the roles I had as a kid were dramas or adventure, so to do a heartfelt, raunchy comedy — I don’t think people necessarily expected it from me, which is one of the reasons I wanted to do it.”


Ncuti Gatwa as the lead in the theater production 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips (2015):

Ncuti as Eric Effiong in Sex Education:


Three years after his success in the theater, Ncuti got a lead role in Sex Education, even though he thought he blew his audition. In a previous interview he said, “It’s really nice to have a gay character, a Black character, be at the forefront of this story on a show like this. The show has helped a lot of people find strength within themselves, ’cause a lot of the characters have a struggle they’re going through that a lot of people can identify with.”


Connor Swindells as Donald in The Vanishing (2018):

Lionsgate / Via

In addition to his role in The Vanishing opposite Gerard Butler, Connor played the lead in the film VS.

Connor as Adam Groff in Sex Education:


Connor, who plays the school bully finding his identity, said his character is relatable to those watching Sex Education. “Adam is a young man wrestling with his masculinity. As the show goes on, we start to peel away those layers and see what a scared little boy is sitting inside of him, which I think will resonate with a lot of men.”


Kedar Williams-Stirling as Junior in Shank (2010):

Revolver Entertainment / Via

Before he was Jackson on Sex Education, Kedar appeared in major roles in several TV shows and movies like WolfbloodShank, and Montana

Kedar as Jackson Marchetti in Sex Education:


In addition to playing the misunderstood school jock in Sex Education, Kedar was recently in the film short Lockdown Love Vol. 1 and the limited TV series Small Axe.

Kedar IRL:

David M. Benett / Dave Benett / Getty Images for VA

Aside from Sex Education, Kedar appeared alongside Macaulay Culkin and Seth Green in the indie drama Changeland.


Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully in The X-Files:

20th Television / Via

When Gillian moved to LA in her early 20s to pursue acting, she promised herself she would never act in TV shows. But after struggling to land a movie role, Gillian landed a guest appearance in Class of ’96, which got her the script for The X-Files. For her strong performance as the female lead in the sci-fi show, she won an Emmy, a Golden Globe, two SAG awards, and a Saturn Award.

Gillian as Jean Milburn in Sex Education:


In an interview, Gillian said she loved Jean’s complicated personality, but that the potential impact and message of Sex Education are what convinced her to join the cast. “The fact that kids who are questioning their sexuality, or have other questions they’re curious about, can watch it, often with their parents, is beautiful.”


Aimee Lou Wood in a production of Mary Stewart (2016–17):

Aimee Wood as Aimee Gibbs in Sex Education:


Wood initially auditioned to play Lily but was offered the role of Aimee, Maeve’s best friend. Throughout the seasons, the character goes through many complicated experiences, the largest being becoming a victim of sexual assault. “It was a great acting challenge because I really want to express the importance and magnitude of this issue, but I also want to maintain that lovely Aimee-ness as well,” she said in an interview.


Patricia Allison as Susan in the theater production of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2017–18):

Patricia as Ola Nyman in Sex Education:


Patricia plays Ola, who makes new discoveries about her sexuality over the course of the show, and eventually determines that she is pansexual. “A lot of young people are trying to figure out what sort of box they go in. Pansexuality is also something that’s never really been discussed properly before,” she said in an interview.


Mimi Keene as Cindy Williams in EastEnders (2013–15):

BBC One / Via

Mimi started her acting career as a child in the Royal Court Theatre and went on to play guest roles in various TV shows. Her biggest onscreen role was as a series regular in the popular British soap opera EastEnders.

Mimi as Ruby in Sex Education:


Mimi, who plays the mean girl in Sex Education, said she’s excited about Ruby’s character development in the latest season. “You find out a lot more of who she is behind the bravado of, ‘I’m perfect. Everything in my life is brilliant. I’m better than you.”


Tanya Reynolds as Teresa in Delicious (2016–19)

Sky 1 / Via

Before she joined the cast of Sex Education, Tanya scored major roles in shows like Delicious and Outlander, as well as in films such as Rellik and Fanny Lye Deliver’d.

Tanya as Lily Iglehart in Sex Education:


When Tanya first read the script for Lily, she was excited to get the chance to embody such a unique character. “I not only thought she was one of the funniest characters that I’d ever read, but just so brilliantly unusual,” she said in an interview. She added that she’s glad the show spotlights characters like Lily, as well as topics like female pleasure and self-confidence. 


Simone Ashley as Girl Ben Lyk in Kill Ben Lyk (2018):

ZORG Studios / Via

Simone attended theater school growing up and landed several small appearances in TV shows, but her first leading role wasn’t until her performance in the movie Kill Ben Lyk. After, she acted in Pokémon: Detective Pikachu and in TV movie A Working Mom’s Nightmare.

Simone as Olivia Hanan in Sex Education:


Simone plays popular teen Olivia, who hides her love life from her parents and seeks sex advice from Otis.


Alistair Petrie as George Forsyte in The Forsyte Saga (2002–3):

WGBH / Courtesy of Everett Collection

Prior to his role in Sex Education, Alistair appeared in The Forsyte Saga series as well as several theater productions. He also played major roles in movies like The Bank Job, Cloud Atlas, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Alistair as Mr. Groff in Sex Education:


Soon before Alistair started playing Mr. Groff, Adam’s strict dad and the school principal in Sex Education, he played major characters in two TV shows, Deep State and Year of the Rabbit.


Mikael Persbrandt as Ola Simonsson in Rederiet (1992–94):

SVT / Via

Throughout his career, Mikael appeared in dozens of Swedish- and English-language movies and shows, including the long-running soap opera Rederiet

Mikael as Jakob Nyman in Sex Education:


Just before his role as Jean’s boyfriend and Ola’s father in Sex Education, Mikael acted in the political drama Invisible Heroes, which is about the 1973 Chilean coup d’état.


Sami Outalbali as Ilyes in Les Grands (2016–19):

Sami as Rahim in Sex Education:


In an interview, Sami said he had a lot of creative freedom to build Rahim’s character, who starts off tough and opens over time. The actor explained that this show and his character are important voices in today’s world. “We don’t talk about sex, which is a problem for me. So I was really happy to be a part of that, and make the dialogue freer and easier.”

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