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An Interview with Noughts + Crosses Star Masali Baduza

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An Interview with Noughts + Crosses Star Masali Baduza


Noughts + Crosses II,04-05-2022,4,Callum McGregor (JACK ROWAN), Sephy Hadley (MASALI BADUZA),Picture shows: Callum McGregor (JACK ROWAN), Sephy Hadley (MASALI BADUZA) ,Mammoth Screen,Ilze KitshoffImage Source: BBC/Mammoth Screen

The television adaptation of Malorie Blackman’s novel “Noughts + Crosses” debuted during the first UK lockdown in 2020. The scheduling of the series aligned well with new conversations about race and discrimination that were happening across the world. With the success of the first series, “Noughts + Crosses” has returned to BBC One and iPlayer for a second series that follows Sephy, played by rising star Masali Baduza.

Speaking to POPSUGAR UK, Baduza reveals that she was drawn to working on this project because it’s a story where Black people are not oppressed. “Since I was in college in America, I was made aware of the Black Lives Matter movement. I’ve really been about it for a number of years now, which is why I’ve felt compelled to “Noughts + Crosses”. For me, it represents Black empowerment in a lot of ways.”

Image Source: BBC/Mammoth Screen

The dystopian story follows two childhood friends, Sephy Hadley and Callum McGregor, who develop a romantic connection and attempt to navigate a relationship that is forbidden due to the division of colour in their society. Sephy is a Cross, belonging to the Black ruling class and daughter of the Home Secretary, whilst Callum is a Nought, a white member of the underclass. Series two of the BBC drama, which aired last week, picks up from where the audience last saw Sephy and Callum — reunited and fleeing their home of Albion in search of a new life together. “This season is about them stepping into their own,” Baduza says, revealing that whilst the second series is filled with drama and action, we’ll see both characters mature.

Callum, portrayed by Jack Rowan, is a logical, and compassionate cadet who opposes the racial injustice that is prominent in Aprica. Series one sees him struggle to find the middle ground of how he can stay loyal to his family, but also support Sephy without losing the people most important to him. Baduza’s character, Sephy is ambitious, poised and outspoken. Although her family, the Hadley’s are adamant on seeing the world as black and white, she shares the same vision on racism as Callum – they would like for the Noughts and Crosses to live in an equal society.

Noughts + Crosses II,01-04-2022,3,Sephy Hadley (MASALI BADUZA), Callum McGregor (JACK ROWAN),Picture shows: Sephy Hadley (MASALI BADUZA), Callum McGregor (JACK ROWAN) ,Mammoth Screen,Ilze KitshoffImage Source: BBC/Mammoth Screen

What solidifies Sephy and Callum as a couple is their appetite for justice, clarity, and the compassion they have for those who are subject to prejudice. They accept that the world is bigger than just their problems and want to be a unit to stand against the destructive principles that Aprica has in place. Describing the work relationship with her co-star Rowan, Baduza says that he put her at ease when they first met. “He made everything very natural and calm and it was like catching up with an old friend.”

“The storyline of “Noughts + Crosses” challenges us to alter our perception of race.”

Filming in her birthplace of South Africa, the series has literally been close to home for Baduza. Despite growing up “painfully shy”, she was inspired to become an actress by her high-school drama teacher who encouraged her to go to school for acting and pursue this as a career. Baduza affirms that drama was the one place where she felt like she could express herself and live vicariously through other people.

Noughts + Crosses II,03-05-2022,2,Callum McGregor (JACK ROWAN), Sephy Hadley (MASALI BADUZA),Picture shows: Callum McGregor (JACK ROWAN), Sephy Hadley (MASALI BADUZA) ,Mammoth Screen,Ilze KitshoffImage Source: BBC/Mammoth Screen

“I really believe in involving myself in projects that really say something about the world that we live in and I think that’s really important,” She declares. Baduza acknowledges that her first acting role, where she worked in an all-woman theatre production of the Shakespearean comedy “Taming of the Shrew” presented her with the opportunity to merge her passions in life – acting and activism. She wants acting to grow who she is as a person, and make her more aware of what’s happening in the world.

The storyline of “Noughts + Crosses” challenges us to alter our perception of race. It sparks our curiosity about a reverse-race society and raises questions as well as thoughts about what our world would look like if Black people were privileged, and our White counterparts segregated. “I hope that we can move past the stage where whiteness is the norm and people of colour are othered,” Baduza expresses. Although she is now more optimistic that change can be possible, she hopes the audience of “Noughts + Crosses” can be educated about how society works to undermine and keep people of colour disadvantaged. Working on “Noughts + Crosses”, reminds Baduza that good can happen if people lead with empathy and love.

“Noughts + Crosses” series one and two are available in full on BBC iPlayer, with series two airing weekly on BBC One each Tuesday night.

Image Source: BBC/Mammoth Screen


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