Ashley Walters leads a group discussion between a handful of the stars from the latest series of 'Top Boy'. The setup is an informal one with lots of jokes and banter, and casual chat all mixed in with clips from the new series.
On previous series, Walters ’s part in the show has been only as an actor. He has now stepped up to perform an EP role as well, giving him partial creative control and a direct impact on the stories told within the show. The actor touches on the fact that, at one point, he and other actors from the show were also a part of "that world". (Before embarking on an acting career, he spent time in a young offender’s institute for gun charges and then went on to become a part of the commercially successful rap group, 'So Solid Crew'.) His heavy involvement on and off screen is therefore fitting. In his own words: “Who better to tell those stories, or be a part of shaping those stories for the rest of the world to see?”
This unconventional approach to promoting the new series is a great way of reaching out to youthful audiences, especially those from the Black community, with one eye on showing them that there are avenues into the film and television industries. A couple of the show’s actors discuss the unorthodox way they got into acting, leading to a discussion about the various routes in and how it's not necessary to go to acting school... something that will be very encouraging for aspiring young people to hear.
Stereotypes are also addressed and challenged. One Black actor from the show mentions her classical training and speaks about her initial struggle to understand and get to grips with the script. The character she plays wasn’t one she immediately identified with. It's a reminder that not all minorities are from an underprivileged background.
Clips from the new series are shown throughout, whetting the appetites of those who enjoyed the previous programmes... but, this film goes much deeper than that. It gives an insight into why the show feels so authentic - the people involved creatively are people who have actually lived and witnessed 'the life' for themselves.
Perhaps lessons can be learnt from this by the advertising industry? The industry values authenticity so it needs to encourage diversity among those who create the work, so that people from different backgrounds and ways of life are able to have their voices heard. This would make it far more likely that the outcomes were truer to life, genuine and appealed to a wider audience.
The question of whether or not 'Top Boy' is still relevant finishes this film. There's no question that it is... it shows what life is often like for the youth of deprived communities who face these situations, and make sense of their choices to those who have had a more priviledged upbringing - as actor Kadeem Ramsey explains: "It’s not senseless... everyone is doing something for a reason. Everyone wants to live. Everyone’s trying to survive. Everyone wants a better life."
Product Category: TV Programmes