'Noughts & Crosses': Meet Masali Baduza, Jack Rowan, Stormzy and cast of YA show on Malorie Blackman’s books
Masali Baduza, a South African newcomer, used her newbie status to approach the material with a fresh perspective while Jack Rowan decided to leave 'Peaky Blinders' for the chance to play Callum
The show which takes the adage 'walking a mile in someone else's shoes' to its logical conclusion imagines a world where the "Aprican Empire" colonized Europe 700 years ago. Albion (comprising Great Britain and Ireland) and parts of Scandinavia remain under the thumb of the Aprican Empire. The story takes place in a present-day London in this alternate history timeline where the Black "Crosses" control the country’s politics, wealth and culture over an oppressed, impoverished underclass of White “Noughts” who are at the brink of revolt. Based on the award-winning book series by British author Malorie Blackman, the show has already drawn controversy for "race-baiting" rather than an interrogation of racial power structures through an alternate history narrative.
The story centers around the star-crossed lovers, Sephy Hadley (a Cross) and Callum McGregor (a Nought) whose romance seems doomed from the start in a society with apartheid-esque segregation -- only with Whites as the victims. The show, which premiered in the UK in March of this year, has been acquired by Peacock for the US fall TV schedule. With many 2020 shows diving into racial politics because of the Black Lives Matters movement, 'Noughts + Crosses' promises to add a new dimension to the conversation. Learn more about the cast of this politically-charged YA show.
Masali Baduza as Sephy Hadley
Masali Baduza as Sephy plays the privileged, well-educated but naive "Cross" teen, who is the daughter of the Home Office minister, Kamal Hadley. She knew Callum as a child but she hasn't met or spoken to him in many years. They are reintroduced when Callum is hired as a server at a party hosted in Sephy’s house. Masali Baduza was born in East London, South Africa, and is based out of Cape Town. She majored in Acting for Film at the New York Film Academy campus in Los Angeles. She is bilingual in English and isiXhosa. She appeared in the South African crime thriller 'Trackers'. 'Noughts + Crosses' is her second big acting gig. Her newcomer status helped her nail the role because of Sephy's innocence. "I think being new to the industry and not having known about Malorie’s books before [I got the part] kind of aided in portraying that naivety," she said about her role.
Jack Rowan as Callum McGregor
Jack Rowan plays Callum, a Nought and Albion native. Though he comes from a lower-class background, he sees an opportunity for himself and his community when a unit of the Aprican military starts recruiting Noughts for the first time. In the meantime, he assists his mother who works for a wealthy Hadley family. "Once I got the part, I [immediately] read the book... From the first page and from the first word, I was emotionally invested... I couldn’t wait to play this guy. I knew that I was part of something that is very special, very powerful and very unique," he said about playing Callum. To play the role, Rowan ditched his gig playing Bonnie Gold in 'Peaky Blinders'. Before that, he was the lead on the dark drama series 'Born to Kill', about a school boy with psychopathic tendencies.
Josh Dylan plays Jude McGregor
Josh Dylan is Jude, Callum’s older brother. Unlike Callum, who wants to assimilate, he is angry about how the noughts are treated and often gets into fights. He is also unsettled about Callum’s decision to join the military, which he views as an oppressive force. If Josh Dylan looks familiar, you've probably seen him on 'The End of the F***ing World', where he played Alyssa’s husband Todd. He has also starred in 'Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again' as the younger version of Bill (Stellan Skarsgård).
Helen Baxendale plays Meggie McGregor
Helen Baxendale is Meggie, the mother of Callum and Jude. She has been part of the trusted core group of staff at the Hadley residence for many years, and, on occasion, brought Callum to work when he was a child. She also shares a close relationship with Jasmine Hadley, Sephy's mother, who often confides in her. Helen Baxendale became world-famous overnight for playing Emily, Ross' unfortunate fiance in 'Friends'. Baxendale has also starred in shows like 'Cold Feet', 'Dirk Gently' and 'Cuckoo'.
Bonnie Mbuli plays Jasmine Hadley
Jasmine is Kamal’s wife and Sephy’s mother. She is not happy in her marriage and to cope, she has affairs and also has a drinking problem. Bonnie Mbuli, who plays the part, is a well-known actor in South Africa, who starred as Winnie Mandela in 'Invictus'. In 2015, she starred opposite Sir Kenneth Charles Branagh as policewoman Grace Mthembu in the popular British series 'Wallander'. She was seen on US TV most recently in Syfy's 'Vagrant Queen', which aired in April-June 2020.
Paterson Joseph plays Kamal Hadley
Kamal, Sephy’s father, is a powerful government official working for the Home Office. He firmly believes that the police should be given more powers to crack down on Noughts causing unrest. Paterson Joseph, who plays Kamal, is best known as "Alan Johnson" in the British sitcom 'Peep Show'. He has been in US shows like 'The Leftovers', 'Avenue 5' and 'Timeless'. He has also starred in films like 'The Beach', 'Greenfingers', 'Æon Flux', and 'The Other Man'.
Ian Hart plays Ryan McGregor
Ian Hart plays Ryan, Callum and Jude’s father. He worries for Jude, his eldest son, and doesn’t want him to court trouble by rebelling against Cross authority. Hart is most well known for his portrayal of Professor Quirrel, who 'lent' his body to Lord Voldemort in 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone'. More recently, he has appeared in the historical drama 'The Last Kingdom' as fan-favorite, Father Beocca.
Stormzy plays Kolawale
Kolawale is an original character on the show and did not appear in the books. Stormzy plays Kolawale, the editor of a newspaper called 'The Ohene Standard'. Stormzy is a popular musician but decided to become an actor for the 'Noughts + Crosses' show because he loved the books on which it is based. “As a diehard fan of Malorie’s novels, being a part of this important show is a dream come true,” he said about being cast in the role.
Shaun Dingwall plays Jack Dorn
Callum's brother, Jude, gets involved with Dorn, a dangerous Nought rebel who believes in violent forms of confrontation.Dingwal plays Dorn. He also portrayed Rose’s father Pete in 'Doctor Who'. More recently, he has appeared in Rowan Atkinson’s crime drama Maigret and BBC Two’s 'Responsible Child'.