‘Doctor Who’ star Ncuti Gatwa criticizes praise of white mediocrity while Black people must be ‘flawless to get half’ that

Gatwa, 31, is the first Black man to be cast as the Doctor in the sci-fi series, whose new season will stream on Disney+ in May. 

Actor Ncuti Gatwa recently opened up about the unequal pressures that Black people are subjected to across Hollywood and in other industries when compared to their white counterparts.

Actor Ncuti Gatwa, shown in 2022, said that after the backlash he received for being cast in “Doctor Who,” he’s learning about self-acceptance. (Photo: Kate Green/Getty Images)

“There’s so much white mediocrity that gets celebrated,” Gatwa said in an interview with Attitude magazine. “And Black people, we have to be absolutely flawless to get half of [that] anyway.”

The “Sex Education” actor shared how he is training himself to unlearn the belief that he must adhere to the standard of Black excellence to be loved. Instead, he said, he is teaching himself about self-acceptance and that he “deserves love just for existing.”

“So, yeah, I think I’m just learning now like, ‘Oh, you are allowed to be loved,'” Gatwa continued. “You don’t have to be excellent or aspire to that term, ‘Black excellence.’ What the hell?”

Gatwa, who also appeared in the “Barbie” movie, is the first Black man to be cast in “Doctor Who” as the Doctor, the show’s 15th. (British actress Jo Martin preceded him, portraying the Fugitive Doctor, the first Black woman cast.) He told Attitude about the backlash he received in 2022 after announcing his pending role, noting people were “so angry over something so inconsequential.”

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Gatwa said that he saw “a shift happening in casting, in positions of power and in the status quo.”

“I mean, not a fast shift, things could tip over the other way a little bit quicker, but you see people kind of malfunctioning because things are changing,” he added.

Last year, Gatwa talked with the Hollywood Reporter about his preparation for the hateful criticisms and increased media attention since the cast reveal. He said then that his goal for “Doctor Who”was to “focus on the job and stay true to what the Doctor is: a mad scientist alien who has adventures and cares about everyone.”

The new season of “Doctor Who” premieres on Friday, May 10 and can be streamed on Disney+.