Top Boy star Saffron Hocking has said “accolades are great” but the impact her domestic abuse storyline has had on survivors worldwide means “more than anything”.
The 29-year-old was nominated for best supporting actress at the 2023 Bafta Television Awards following her portrayal of heavily pregnant Lauryn Lawrence, who was being coercively controlled by her partner and his sister, in the second series of the gritty drama on Netflix.
The third and final series is set to launch on the streaming service on Thursday.
Hocking, who is an ambassador for Refuge, said the support she received from the charity was “invaluable” ahead of portraying a domestic abuse survivor on the series.
“I felt that weight of responsibility for the first time in my acting career,” she told Cosmopolitan UK.
“It’s an incredible storyline to have as an actor – something to sink your teeth into. Then the fear: I cannot get this wrong.
“It would be my nightmare to portray something that wasn’t real or relatable, or that amplified abuse negatively. I needed to find those people on the front line.”
She continued: “Accolades are great, but women from all over the world thanking me for embodying their stories is incredible.
“I don’t think I was totally prepared for that.
“I’ve received so many messages from survivors around the world – I took all the time to reply, usually in floods of tears… That meant more than anything coming from my peers in the industry.”
Hocking also said she wants to continue to “challenge misconceptions” with the parts she plays.
The actress, who is supporting a Make It Mandatory campaign calling for the signs of domestic abuse and coercive control to be taught in schools, said: “This experience has broadened my acting, but also really awakened something in me.
“I want to take on those roles that are meaningful for people… It makes my job feel special.”
Top Boy first aired on Channel 4, starting in 2011, before it was revived by Netflix in 2019 following interest from rapper Drake, who serves as an executive producer on the new incarnation.
Created and written by Ronan Bennett, the show is set on the fictional Summerhouse Estate in Hackney, east London, and features gang kingpins Dushane and Sully, played by Ashley Walters and Kane “Kano” Robinson, as they ruthlessly strive to become the dominant local “top boys”.
It was previously announced that Oscar nominee Barry Keoghan and Brian Gleeson will join the show alongside returning cast members including rapper Little Simz, whose real name is Simbi Ajikawo.