Netflix’s Sex Education is getting its first nonbinary character in season 3. And the best bit? They’re being played by an actual enby person.
According to Deadline, we’ll meet three new characters in the new season of Netflix’s hit teen comedy-drama. There’s Hope (Jemima Kirke), the new headmistress and Moordale alum who wants to restore the school’s excellence after Principal Groff’s forced resignation. Then, after splitting with Ms. Groff, Adam’s father and the former Principal will find himself couchsurfing at his more successful and apparently less modest older brother, Peter Groff’s place, portrayed by Jason Isaacs, A.K.A. Lucius Malfoy.
But, it’s Cal, a new student who clashes with Headmistress Hope and is the show’s first nonbinary representation that we’re really excited for. The recurring character will be played by poet, singer and actress Dua Saleh, who identifies as nonbinary and prefers they/them pronouns—and just radiates cool energy. So you’re telling me that a nonbinary character will actually be played by a nonbinary person? Shit yeahhhh, *laughs in Eric Effiong*.
In a statement via them, Saleh said, “I’m excited to make my acting debut on such a groundbreaking show and elated for Sex Education to include me as an actual enby to portray a nonbinary student. Trans representation is so important now and moving forward.”
Created by Laurie Nunn, Sex Education has been universally applauded for its queer representation, namely in the character of Eric Effiong (played by Ncuti Gatwa), a Black, confident, charismatic, nonconforming queer teen whose story isn’t about him coming out of the closet. Refreshingly, his story is treated like every other teen romance, as in season two we find him torn between the affections of a French transfer student named Rahim (Sami Outalbali) and his closeted bicurious former bully named Adam (Connor Swindells).
Then, near the tail end of season two, we witness the budding romance between Otis’s ex, Ola (Patricia Allison) and the offbeat and pansexual alt-girl Lily (Tanya Reynolds). Another openly queer and Southeast Asian character finds himself struggling not with his sexual orientation, but his anxieties related to anal sex and whether he even enjoys it—fun fact, queer men who don’t enjoy anal sex are called Sides.
In this sense, Saleh’s addition to the series as Black and nonbinary is a perfect fit. Speaking with PinkNews, the artist spoke out about their experience as Black and nonbinary and how while you “operate from a place of survival due to oppression,” you can “still manage to find joy and self-love.”
“It means knowing that I share a community with people that hold a wealth of experience and creativity,” the musician continued. “It means that I carry a legacy and power that can not be bridled by the social imaginary. Having all of these multilayered identities means that I have socio-political responsibility to share my truth with the world even in the face of adversity.”
Earlier this year, the Sudanese-American performer released Rosetta, an EP with high voltage and hypnotic vocals about their journey growing up queer in a strict Muslim household. The third season of Netflix’s Sex Education officially began filming on the 10th of September, and despite the fact the second season released in January, we kinda need the next part ASAP.