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Interview: Calvin Demba

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Brand new series Youngers hits our screens later this month on E4. The show follows two best friends trying to make it in the music industry.  We caught up with Calvin Demba who plays Jay to have chat about it.

So what’s the show about?

It centres on Jay and Yemi, delving into their life from when they open up their GCSE results. Jay completely flunks and Yemi passes and goes to a private school. His family and culture are very much education first; music is just a form of procrastination. Jay’s family is more relaxed and his dad is like, you have to work with me now fixing boilers. It looks at real issues that are part of everyday teenage life like the love triangle between the three characters and of course it follows our journey into the music industry. 

Tell me a bit about your character, Jay.

Jay aka MC Linksta is very instinctive so he reacts on his first impulses - whatever he thinks, he just does. Sometimes he gets himself into a bit of a pickle because he doesn’t think too deeply about the consequences but he’s a good lad.

Would you say you are quite similar to him?

I definitely see characteristics that are similar to myself in him; some of Jay’s mannerisms I gave to him. The character can be quite up for a laugh and banter. However we speak differently, I’m more of a cockney and he’s more of a London street kid if that makes sense! He’s 16 and I’m 19 so I’ve matured more than Jay.

What was the audition process and how did you get the role?

Originally there were open castings and then afterwards when it got to the later rounds they asked agents if they had any clients they could recommend for the role. I got an audition through my agent and had about five auditions.

What’s your acting experience?

Well I’m most known for playing Scott on Hollyoaks for over a year. I’ve done other bits and bobs with little TV Movies such as Fast Freddie, the Widow and Me which was on ITV.

During filming was there much room for improvisation or did you have to strictly stick to the script?

One of the writers, Levi was often on set so there was room for ad-libbing as long as it was completely relevant for the scene and the character. At first we were strict on the script but as we started to develop our characters more and we all got a feel for it, there was room for ideas to be presented. Levi and the director were open to suggestions as long as they were useful. 

What was it like working with the cast particularly the stars of YouTube series Mandem On the Wall?

It was a fantastic experience, I have no complaints! Ade (who plays Yemi) is a great young actor, Shivani (Davina) was brilliant and the Mandem were really funny. If you look at Yunger Baker (played by Dee Kartier) he does some funny lip acting which I could never do. I’m trying to work on my own lip acting, if I can conquer that then I can retire a happy man!

How important do you think a show like this that portrays young urban Britain is?

I’m hoping shows like this will open up the doors for more young black actors and this will be good for that reason alone. It conveys young people in a positive way and as goal-orientated which is not always done. There are no drug references, no sex and not even any swearing. I feel like we’re going in the right direction with this because it shows we’re not all drug-taking people without hope. There are diamonds in the rough.

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