There’s many reasons why Sex Education has become one of the most watched shows in streaming history. There’s the frank and refreshing approach to sex and relationships, sex scenes that feel as honest as they are hilarious, the idyllic rural locale, the loveable characters, Gillian Anderson! The list goes on and on and on.
In 2019, Chinenye was one of the legions of fans binge-watching the show on Netflix. An actor from East London who’d just landed her first TV role in Harlan Coben’s The Stranger, Chinenye decided to take her fate into her own hands; she needed a role on the show.
Fast forward a year and her plan worked out; Chinenye joined season two as Viv; an impressively intelligent, severely rule-abiding new student at Moodale High. Her endearing relationship with head boy Jackson did wonders for her confidence, while her impact made him embrace his true passions. Their friendship started to have some real will-they-won’t-they qualities by the end of last season. With the show returning to our TV’s today; will they become more than just friends? We sat down with Chinenye on the search for season three secrets..
What’s your favourite moment in season three?
We were filming these bus scenes and creating a kind of trippy atmosphere, and it was so fun because all of the cast were there and we were having a lot of banter. Everyone in Sex Education is so funny, but Jim Howick who plays Mr. Hendricks made me laugh so much. He was doing every scene differently and you guys will see how hilarious he is on that bus scene.
How did you land a part in Sex Education?
I watched all of the first season and I just loved it. I love that it brings up really awkward conversations in a funny way. I think it allows people to have an open dialogue about relationships and sex. It's such a good gateway to talking about those things. And it's really funny.
I didn't have an agent at that point, but I knew they were casting for the second season, so I was like, OK, how do I get onto that show? I approached this agent at Curtis Brown (who now is my agent!), and I was like, ‘Hey, they're casting for Sex Ed. Can I be seen for it?’ I was being very bold, but luckily it paid off. He said yes and he got me the audition the next day! There’s a video of him coming to my house to tell me I’d got the part.
What did you love about the character?
Viv is just so headstrong and she's very direct. She wants to achieve so much and I think I really resonated with her. She's also really awkward in some situations. I think as teenagers, we all go through that awkward stage; I really identified with her.
What happens with her this season?
I feel like Viv has to really question her morals and whose side she is on, and I think she really triumphs with that. Her and Jackson's relationship really develops the season and there might be more push and pull with their relationship... that's all I’m saying, I hate spoilers!
Jemima Kirke joins the cast this season as Moordales new headmistress, what’s she like?
I loved working with Jemima! She's become a great friend. She's so funny. She has so many stories to tell. Jemima is so genuinely talented and I can't wait to see people's reactions to her character, because I think she brings a lot of layers. She does something in the season that is hilarious to watch, like it's so good.
What’s the best thing about the cast of Sex Education?
It's like a family! The atmosphere is always amazing, you’re with your friends and you’re just chilling. COVID made it hard this season, because there were a lot of restrictions. We had to stay two meters apart, Netflix did a great job like teaching us about how to stay safe. But what we'd normally be doing is hanging out in the green room just talking about life stuff or playing cards in between takes. Connor [Swindells] taught me how to play poker. Sometimes we'll all be doing push ups and stuff, which is really weird; we're really weird, but we always have fun.
What else have you been up to since filming Sex Education?
I've been writing scripts. I've been working on a TV script called ‘Books, Braids and Boys’, it’s about this girl who's going through a transitional period after finishing school. It's set in the 2000s so I've been going really deep into research about the music, the culture and everything that was happening during that time.
You’re also starring in The School for Good and Evil alongside Charlize Theron and Kerry Washington…
I didn't really get to work with Charlize, but from what i saw of her she’s just brilliant. I did work with Kerry, she has such an amazing work ethic. I didn't know the first time she came on set, until I saw her sitting by the monitors. I went over to introduce myself, she wasn't filming, she’d just come down to watch and I was just like, “you're great!” - she's really kind and really generous. She's always so prepared and professional. She makes notes about her character and I think that work ethic rubbed off on me. She’s really generous to the people around her, she shows up on time and knows all of her lines. Kerry Washington has been in this industry for a long time and it really shows.
There’s a great video on your Instagram of you playing Supermarket Sweep at a Stella McCartney store, how did that come about?
I had a fitting with them for a campaign and I got on with the team so well. My agent and I were trying to think of ideas we could do with them, and somehow we came up with Supermarket Sweep filmed in the shop! I went around grabbing all of this stuff from the rack and running out of the store; I don’t think the security people knew what was going on so they thought I was stealing, it was crazy, but it was really, really fun.
Photographer – David Reiss
Stylist – Michael Miller
Hair and Makeup – Kevin Fortune
Season three of Sex Education launches on Netflix today