Hollyoaks' Kéllé Bryan added her own experiences to unconscious bias story

Hannah Lovejoy
·3-min read

Hollyoaks spoilers follow.

Hollyoaks star Kéllé Bryan has shared that she drew from her own experiences as a black woman while filming the soap's episode on unconscious bias.

The episode examined the differences between Kéllé's character Martine Deveraux and Grace Black's lives – both characters experienced a health scare and are waiting on the results. Grace's (Tamara Wall) preferential treatment, however, is the opposite of Martine's and demonstrates how unconscious bias takes place in everyday life for people of colour.

Speaking to The Mirror, Kéllé explained that she was grateful for how the Hollyoaks team dealt with the topic but admitted that it brought up feelings of frustration – she "went off-piste and added [her] own text" while reading through the episode plans.

Photo credit: Lime Pictures
Photo credit: Lime Pictures

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"I was infuriated. This was my everyday. I was connecting with the lines so much, it ignited in me the pain and the hatred for biases," Kéllé said.

"All the black cast members said we wouldn't do this unless it was absolutely real. We didn't want to pretty anything up."

The Hollyoaks episode demonstrated how stereotypes have very different impacts on Martine and Grace's days.

One experience that differed massively was their interviews for Businesswoman of the Year – Grace was offered a drink and had extra time to talk while Martine was hassled by the interviewer, who suggested that she had time-keeping problems and told her that she needed to make herself "stand out" from other "diverse candidates."

Photo credit: Lime Pictures
Photo credit: Lime Pictures

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Martine and Grace crossed paths at the hospital and had a disagreement about who Felix had feelings for. Elsewhere, Peri Lomax realised she double-booked their appointments for the same time, Peri broke up their dispute and said that only one of them would be able to see the doctor.

Grace started crying and without hesitation, Peri offered to let her go in to see the doctor, when Martine objected and asked about herself Peri told her to be more sympathetic.

Martine's response was: "What about sympathy for me? I have a lump too. I am terrified too."

Martine was told to stop being aggressive and to come back the next day for an appointment. When Martine got home, she began to answer questions on the written application form for Businesswoman of the Year. She answered a day-in-the-life question and explained how she had to put up with daily micro-aggressions and constantly has to prove herself to other people.

Photo credit: Lime Pictures
Photo credit: Lime Pictures

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She wrote: "The most tiring things about these micro-aggressions is that they are so subtle, so covert, it's hard to prove. When it comes to the impact unconscious bias is having on Black lives – Black women's lives – the facts speak for themselves.

"Being a Black woman means no matter how early you get up in the morning, you never really get a head start because the game is already rigged and it's not in your favour… That place where racism and sexism meet in the middle, that's where Black women live our lives."

Hollyoaks currently airs new episodes from Mondays to Fridays at 6.30pm on Channel 4, with first look screenings at 7pm on E4.

For more information on how you can support Black Lives Matter, please visit its official website or donate here. Readers can also donate to the UK anti-discrimination group Stand Up To Racism, and the Unite Families & Friends Campaign, which supports those affected by deaths in police, prison and psychiatric custody.

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