Words: Tim Heap
Smash Netflix show Sex Education returned this month with a new season that reminded us why we loved the original gang of high-school misfits so much, and introduced us to a few new ones too.
Series newcomer Sami Outalbali turned heads in season two as the handsome and brooding Rahim, a French exchange student who arrived at Moordale Secondary School and immediately caught the eye of out-and-proud Eric (Ncuti Gatwa)
But while his character exudes easy confidence and a too-cool-for-school vibe, 20-year-old Sami reveals in the Attitude Body Issue - out now to download and to order globally - that Rahim's confidence is a far cry from his own school years.
Sami Outalbali, shot by Jenny Brough exclusively for the Attitude Body Issue, out now
“[Playing a character who’s as confident as Rahim] is kind of a revenge on school, on all those years when I went back on the first day and was like, ‘Oh my God', feeling shy and trying to make the least possible noise and not be seen,” he says.
“So being able to cross the hallway with my head up, proud and confident as Rahim, is a pleasure.”
During Sex Education season two's eight episode, which address more of the sexual trials and tribulations young adults face via teenage sex therapist Otis (Asa Butterfield), Rahim finds himself caught in a love triangle with Eric and closeted bully Adam (Connor Swindells).
“I’m proud to help normalise [interracial teenage gay relationships],” says Sami of work on Sex Education, a show which has garnered widespread acclaim for showing a diverse range of characters and representing many different sexualities (season two introduces storylines about pansexuality and asexuality)
“I hope that – let’s be optimistic – two years from now, we don’t even need to have that discussion about, ‘Am I or am I not?’, says Sami.
“It’s just love, it’s normal. For me, we don’t even need to talk about it. Unfortunately, our society is not ready for that yet.
“But by playing a character like Rahim, and Ncuti playing Eric, we are building a society which I’ve dreamed of, where being LGBTQ will be normal.”
Sami wears sweatpants by Gucci at Matches Fashion, necklace Sami’s own (Photography: Jenny Brough)
He adds: “I’m really proud to have a story to a defend and a way of thinking – a way of life – to defend.”
Read the full interview with Sami Outalbali in the Attitude Body Issue, out now in print and to download instantly.