Chinenye Ezeudu looks straight on to the camera in a white t-shirt that reads sex, and layered denim and checkered flannels. Her hair is long and her makeup is glittery and striking.

Chinenye Ezeudu

Netflix stars answer Queue’s questions about creativity and craft.

Portrait by Joseph Sinclair
17 September 20218 min read

The actor who plays Viv Odesanya, in Sex Education takes her turn answering Queue’s Q’s. 

What’s it like to join an award-winning show in its second season? Chinenye Ezeudu found out when she was cast as Sex Education’s Viv Odesanya, the college-minded quiz-kid and tutor to head boy Jackson Marchetti (Kedar Williams-Stirling). The many rounds of auditions for the role paid off: Odesanya feels at home with her Moordale Secondary School classmates, saying “they really give you space to be who you want to be — to be who you are.” Queue sat down with Ezeudu to learn more about the actress who portrays Viv and the hilarious and irreverent moments we can expect in Season 3.

Queue: What was your first role or your first big break?
Chinenye Ezeudu: My first role on TV was this BBC sketch and I played a Jamaican woman. It was based on a sketch of The Real McCoys. So that was my first TV thing. But my other first TV thing was The Stranger, where I played a teacher. I think I had a couple of lines. Sex Education was my big breakout role. It was my start.

Was there a film or a TV show that made you fall in love with acting in the very beginning?
CE: I think I fell in love with acting when I was in primary school and we did this play called The Hoxton Golem, where we had to shout, “Hoxton Golem,” a lot of times. And I was just like, “You know what, I want to do this for the rest of my career, entertain people and just act.” So that was how that happened, where my interest first started.

What was your first movie experience, as in the first thing you remember going to see or seeing at home?
CE: I think I watched All Dogs Go to Heaven, and it was really tragic. I just remember watching, and I was like, “Oh, don’t die. You’re a doggie. You can’t die.” It was definitely that film. Pretty sad. But he didn’t end up dying, so it’s fine. Or no, I need to watch that again, because I’m pretty sure he did die, didn’t he?

As you were growing up, what movies inspired you to become an actor?
CE: Yeah, there are so many movies. I watched City of God, and that’s a movie that really stuck with me for a long time. I was just like, How can I get to that level of acting? I was just so moved by everyone’s performances. They were so raw, and I was just like, “I want to be in this industry.”

Viv (Chinenye Ezedu) sits in a navy ensemble with wolves decorating her windbreaker. To her left is a succulent plant.

What do you remember about the first time that you saw yourself onscreen? What was that experience like?
CE: I felt self-conscious. I was just like, “Oh, my God, I’m actually on the screen.” Everyone hates watching themselves back, and it’s a bit of a thing with actors. But I think more and more, I get comfortable with it. I’m more willing to watch myself onscreen and actually be happy with what I’ve done. But yeah, I think it’s really hard watching yourself back.

So what was the last thing that you've binged on Netflix?
CE: BoJack Horseman.

And what is your favorite comfort watch on Netflix?
CE: F is for Family.

Can you walk me through a little bit of how you came to be on Sex Education and what the process was like?
CE: They had been looking for someone to play Viv for a while, and I think I came on the last casting day. I went in there listening to Chance the Rapper. I was just gearing myself up for this audition, and I was like, You know what, if it’s meant to be, it will be. And I went into this audition, and I kind of tried to command the room. I was like, “Can this be this? Can I do this?” and I remember them being like, “Actually, no.”

It worked out. I think I did four or five rounds of auditioning. And by the fifth round, I was absolutely exhausted. I was just like, “What more do they want from me? What more can I give?” But I ended up getting the role. I did a chemistry read with Kedar, who plays Jackson Marchetti. And I remember after the audition we went to the train station, and I was like, “Hey, man, let me get your number and let’s just text.” And then he gave me his number, which I tried to text the next day, and it was a fake number. Rude. I don’t even know where that story went. But yeah, Kedar, don’t give people fake numbers. It’s rude. You might end up with them on set.

Jackson Marchetti (Kedar Williams-Stirling), Cal (Dua Saleh), and Viv Odesanya (Chinenye Edeuzu) stand in the school courtyard in their grey uniforms.

Jackson Marchetti (Kedar Williams-Stirling), Cal (Dua Saleh), and Viv Odesanya (Chinenye Edeuzu)

That's so funny.
CE: He was probably protecting himself.

Yeah, but that came back to bite him, didn’t it?
CE: It came back. When I was on set, I was like, “Hi, Kedar. How are you?”

What was it like working with the cast of Sex Education and joining the Sex Education family?
CE: I think it’s hard coming into a new cast with already formed relationships and friendships. But I think what is so special about this cast is that they’re so generous and loving and so patient. And they really give you space to be who you want to be, to be who you are. And for a lot of them, it was their first job, so they understand how it is to step into such big boots.

I felt really safe with them. Everyone’s just so kind, and we’re all like best friends. So it’s such a good environment on set. We're always laughing. We’d go into each other’s trailers sometimes, I mean pre-COVID. But yeah, there’s such good vibes on set.

Is there anything you listen to on set to get you in the zone?
CE: No, I don't listen to anything. I just read my sides before I go on set, and I just practice them. There’s nothing specific I listen to. Yeah, just the voices in my head that are like, You can do this.

When you were preparing to play Viv were there any specific inspirations that you turned to? Any inspirations for the Ted Talk moment?
CE: For my Ted Talk, for sure, I watched Michaela Coel’s Ted Talk and Michelle Obama’s. I kind of brought them into it, and I was just like, How would they move, and how would Viv move? Let’s combine this and make something. Yeah. I definitely tried to be as firm as Michelle, but also showing a bit of vulnerability. I learned from those guys. Ted Talks are amazing to watch.

There’s all sorts of stuff with the body language of it all, isn’t there?
CE: Yeah, how you should walk once you enter the space – it’s really interesting to watch how they do it.

Viv Odesanya (Chinenye Edeuzu) and Jackson Marchetti (Kedar Williams-Stirling) walk together along a hedged path. She wears a green t-shirt and he wears a red sweater. They both wear navy jackets.

Viv Odesanya (Chinenye Edeuzu) and Jackson Marchetti (Kedar Williams-Stirling)

Was there one scene from Season 3 that was particularly challenging or memorable for you? 
CE: Yeah, the TED Talk and the video — the one that Kedar directed. That was an experience. We were all in penis costumes and it was very phallic. It was really fun on set. We were playing really good music — James Brown was in the background and we were just having a good time dancing and just being. And everyone was there. I remember Mimi and Connor having to share this costume, and obviously there’s a bit of a height difference so it was really fun to watch. I was laughing a lot when I looked at them. What a pair!

What one word would you use to describe Sex Education?
CE: Fearless.

One word to describe your character?
CE: Viv’s going through changes. I think ambitious.

What is one thing that you would always bring on set?
CE: A water bottle, recyclable.

Did you take a keepsake from set?
CE: It’s so annoying. There were so many things I wanted to take and what I ended up taking was socks. It was regular old socks, and even that was a mistake. I just ended up walking out when we were leaving, and I was just like, I could've taken so much stuff, but I didn't.

Are the socks anything to write home about?
CE: The thing is, they weren’t even anything like what she normally wears. It was just a black pair of socks that you could get from anywhere. So I was very disappointed with myself. If I was going to take something else, I’d probably take the pencil case because I think it’s really cool. I dig it. I dig it a lot.

Okay. So if that goes missing, we now know.
CE: Yeah, it was me.