The star of Netflix hit drama Top Boy, which is now airing its fifth and final series, says he would have preferred the show to have been written by a Black writer, rather than a white industry veteran.
Ashley Walters told The Times of London of the script penned by 67-year-old Irish novelist Ronan Bennett: “It would have been ideal for black people’s stories to have been told by a black person. So I did scrutinize Ronan. But understanding the people he consulted for the script was key.”
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Walters added that he thinks, were the show to be made now in 2023, the focus on ‘lived experience’ would have made for a different outcome. “That may not be great for Ronan, but it’s huge for people like me,” he says. “I was one of the few Black actors allowed on TV before this wave of diversity, so seeing black writers being championed feels amazing. Yet it’s a fight. It’s always a fight.”
Top Boy, a series about the lives of competing drug dealers in East London – a show that has been called ‘the British Wire’ – was initially aired in 2011 by British broadcaster Channel 4, but canceled after two series. U.S. rapper Drake became a vocal champion of the series on social media, eventually signing on as exec producer some six years later and taking the show to Netflix, which commissioned it for another three seasons and enjoyed a worldwide hit.
Walters has played the lead character Dushane since the beginning. He told The Times why he signed on, despite wanting to escape typecasting after a troubled real-life past.“ Top Boy wowed me. Dushane was intelligent. Until then our crime shows depicted criminals as unorganized. But Top Boy gave insight into what was behind crime, rather than just the outcome.”
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