DIVA’s Valentino Vecchietti speaks exclusively to Tylan Grant and Ki Griffin

BY VALENTINO VECCHIETTI

We’re so excited to see Hollyoaks’ hour long special as part of Channel 4’s Black To Front 24 hour groundbreaking diversity project, which airs today. 

Featuring in a key strand of the storyline are Hollyoaks’ stars Tylan Grant and Ki Griffin. The actors both identify as non-binary and play non-binary characters Brooke Hathaway and Ripley Lennox.

The theme of the episode is love, and Brooke and Ripley’s storyline centres around them realising that what they have together might be more than friendship.

In an interview with DIVA, Ki explains: “They have this beautiful friendship and it blossoms into this dating scenario, with Ripley feeling like they are messing up constantly, but Brooke seeing an endearing quality in the fact that Ripley tries so hard.”

Tylan says, “This episode was really fun because it has that difficult situation when you’re like, ‘You’re so pretty” and they’re like, “You’re so pretty too” – and then where do you go from there?”

Hollyoaks tells us, “This hour-long special is written by Thabo Mhlatshwa, and centres on the pivotal Black Deveraux family, who are joined by characters past, present and future, played by Black and of Black heritage talent.” 

Ki emphasises the significance of this historic TV moment: “I just don’t think we have ever had something where we have had so much media specifically created in order to showcase Black voices.”

The episode is directed by Patrick Robinson, who says, “I’m very excited to be directing this hour long special of Hollyoaks, featuring characters who share my background and heritage.” 

Ki “absolutely adored working with Patrick Robinson”. “He created an amazing environment for us to work in.”

Many costumes for the event were sourced from local Black retailers.

Tylan was a big fan of the wardrobe choices: “They had me in the best outfit for this episode! I honestly love my date outfit so much!”

Ripley runs clothes market stall, Sweater Thunberg, and is known for their fantastic style. Ki comments, “This is the episode where we start to see less of a feminine touch in Ripley’s outfits.”

The episode features an original score by acclaimed London-based composer Bankey Ojo. Thabo Mhlatshwa also contributed to the overall soundtrack.

Ki tells us, “One thing that was really fun about this episode was that the entire cast was asked to make song suggestions for the soundtrack. It’s going to be such a huge part of this episode.”

Tylan agrees: It’s really fun having the new artists mixed in with the old songs that your parents have put you onto.” 

With this storyline, Hollyoaks is creating representation for the first Black, non-binary romance in a British soap.

Tylan says, “I really hope that people can watch in the community and see that they are never too much – there are places for them – and if there aren’t, we can create our own.”

Ki adds, “There is so much love in this episode, in so many forms – if you don’t feel like you might have a bit of a sob just because you love the world so much after watching it, I will be really shocked.”

Can’t wait until tonight? Then check out our exclusive clip for a sneak preview.

This episode is screening on Channel 4 at 6pm on Friday 10 September and can also be viewed on All 4 on-demand.

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