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Top Boy’s popularity soared through its relentless commitment to depicting reality – for Ashley Walters, the camera becomes another character in order to achieve this.
“And it’s not always about gritty drama, there’s so much hope in there – these people are happy because often, they don’t know any better,” he said. “Top Boy to me, means growth.”
Screen writer Ronan Bennet said his first priority was always authenticity. Hailing from Ireland, he’s had his own experiences with discrimination which have shaped his outlook: “I come from a demonised community, so I know the importance of showing that people are complex- they do bad things, good things and they have dreams.”
To do this faithfully, diversity and inclusion are key – which is why some of the actors were hired through street casting. Araloyin Oshunremi, plays Stefan and says he tries not to over-analyse scenes in an effort be as natural as possible.
“There’s obviously some scenes I could relate to, but the ones I couldn’t I just tried to act like myself,” said the 17-year old.
The casting of actors who haven’t been professionally trained like Oshunremi is rare, said Walters: “There’s so much talent that wouldn’t get to be in front of a casting director”.
Through the show’s mentee scheme, Kweku Panti- Amoa is working as a producer on Top Boy.
“It was amazing working somewhere where people looked like me and I felt comfortable as myself,” he said.
The next season of Top Boy will be on Netflix soon – with Bennet saying he hopes to play with audiences’ expectations.
Book tickets for the Stories Festival at stories.standard.co.uk