Meet the British 'Doctor Who' Spinoff Stars Who Prove That Smart is Sexy

Donna Freydkin
Sophie Hopkins and Vivian Oparah (Photo: Getty Images)

For Sophie Hopkins, co-starring in the Doctor Who spinoff Class was surreal. After all, the long-running show is a national treasure in its native Britain, and Class delves into the goings-on at Coal Hill Academy, where kids battle their own demons, plus alien issues (show airs Saturdays on BBC America).

Hopkins fit right in, given that she’s a sci-fi nerd who digs the Guardians of the Galaxy and Star Wars franchises.

“I used to have regular light saber battles with my dad around the house,” she says.

Hopkins plays April MacLean, an ordinary student dealing with otherworldly issues. She studied musical theater and drama before landing her breakout role. Both she and April are very creative, says Hopkins, but their attire is vastly different.

“April’s style changes throughout the series as she transforms. She’s in her own bubble,” she says. “My style in my day-to-day life reflects the skate scene. I’m a lot more androgynous in real life.”

Hopkins wears lots of loose clothing, not because she has anything to hide but because she’s more comfortable that way.

“I’m happy with my body. It took a long time. I’ve always been a beanpole. After years of battling that – now I’ve gotten to a place where I love who I am. I like the way clothes fall on me,” says Hopkins.

For her, the most important aspect of Class is being a role model for young girls and women, and proving that science and smarts are sexy.

“They can see themselves represented. Yes she’s kind and puts others first, but it doesn’t diminish her strength. That’s her most wonderful quality. You can get ahead and you can lead a group without this need be a bitch,” she says.

Vivian Oparah plays her fellow student Tanya, a child prodigy with fearsome intelligence. Oparah landed the role after attending an open casting call. She studied acting at the National Youth Theatre in the U.K. and says that being a woman of color on a major BBC production isn’t something she takes for granted.

“I grew up going to white schools. I didn’t have people around me who looked like me. For me it’s a big deal,” she says. “Now more than ever, women and minorities are coming into their own. We don’t have to be subservient and quiet. You can embrace being intelligent and not be scared to speak up. Being smart is cool. Knowledge is so empowering. You can own your womanhood if you know your rights.”

Her style on the show is laid-back; Tanya has two older brothers and likes to wear their clothes. She’s sporty and trying to fit in. Oparah, meanwhile, loves being daring.

“My style is vast and eclectic. I love crazy looks. I like old music. The golden era of R&B glam and the girl bands. The Marc Jacobs 2017 collection, I want every piece from that,” she says.

Sophie Hopkins and Vivian Oparah (Photo: Getty Images)

She wasn’t always so sure of herself, especially in grammar school.

“I felt a bit alien. I was riddled with insecurities. My hair was annoying. I remember looking at my nose. You champion your flaws and they become the bits you love the most. I’m so confident with myself now,” says Oparah.

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