There’s something in the water on the set of Sex Education — and no, it’s nothing gross. Nearly five years after the British Netflix series premiered to rave reviews, Sex Education is ending with a sure-to-be emotional fourth season, and perhaps most impressively, its cast of young actors graduating into bonafide stars.
The show has managed to turn many of its beloved Moordale Secondary students, including Asa Butterfield, Ncuti Gatwa, and Emma Mackey, into A-list stars on the rise in real life, with the success of the series helping them earn landmark roles in blockbuster films, West End productions, and other iconic TV shows. In fact, three Sex Education stars were cast in Greta Gerwig’s record-breaking Barbie movie (clearly, the director is a fan of the show), proving the show had a scarily good eye for casting new talent.
Luckily, most of the show’s burgeoning stars (except one notable face) returned for its final season, meaning viewers will finally find out the long-awaited fates of Otis and Maeve, Eric and Adam, Otis’ iconic sex therapist mother Jean (who just welcomed another baby after 16 years), and even Moordale itself after the school shut down in the Season 3 finale. But after Sex Education ends on Sept. 21, fans can watch their favorite students play Barbie, Doctor Who, and more iconic characters on every screen and stage imaginable. Here’s how the Sex Education students have become masters in stardom.
Butterfield, the lovable amateur sex therapist of Sex Education, was already on his way to becoming a star prior to the show, with roles in beloved teen comedies like Hugo, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, and the 2010 Nanny McPhee sequel. But his performance as Otis Milburn has only helped him continue that journey, with the actor landing roles in Netflix films like Choose or Die and Amazon’s Your Christmas or Mine film series.
Mackey turned all of the online chatter about her looking like Margot Robbie’s identical twin into a role alongside the Oscar nominee, becoming one of the first people cast in Barbie as... another Barbie. Since starring as Maeve Wiley, she’s already landed other notable film roles, portraying author Emily Brontë in the biopic Emily and starring in the 2022 thriller Death on the Nile. And if you needed any more proof of her newfound fame, Mackey took home the BAFTA Rising Star Award in 2023, joining notable winners like Tom Holland, Kristen Stewart, and Daniel Kaluuya.
Gatwa parlayed his two BAFTA TV nominations for playing Eric Efflong into two of his biggest roles to date. First, he was one of the Sex Education stars to be cast in Barbie, playing another Ken alongside Ryan Gosling’s beloved Ken. In May 2022, it was announced that he was cast as the next Doctor Who, playing the 15th Doctor in the long-running series and becoming the first Black actor to lead the show. His first episode will air in November, just after the conclusion of Sex Education, before assuming the role full-time in 2024.
Swindells, who goes through one of the show’s most significant emotional journeys as Adam Groff, is the third Sex Education star to parlay his stardom from the show into a starring role in Barbie — but also the only one to not play a Barbie or a Ken. Instead, he plays Mattel intern Aaron Dinkins, who actually gets the plot going by letting his boss Will Ferrell know that Barbie escaped Barbieland. While filming the series, Swindells also made waves in cinema and TV alike, landing a part in Anya Taylor-Joy’s Emma and the lead role in the British historical drama SAS: Rogue Heroes.
Ashley started on Sex Education as the brutal but loveable Olivia, which allowed her to become a household name through another beloved Netflix series, Bridgerton, in which she plays Jonathan Bailey’s love interest. In fact, Ashley’s star rose so quickly that she no longer had time to juggle both shows, leaving Sex Education ahead of Season 4. “I get asked that all the time,” she told This Morning in April 2022 about whether she’ll return to the show. “No, I’m a Bridgerton girl now.”
Aimee Lou Wood
Wood, who shares her first name with her onscreen character, has the distinction of being the only Sex Education star to win her BAFTA TV nomination, taking home Best Female Comedy Performance in 2021 and even beating her onscreen BFF Mackey, who was elated to see her win. Since then, Wood has made her name on both the stage and silver screen, starring in the Oscar-nominated film Living and taking on the prestigious role of Sally Bowles in London’s 2023 West End revival of Cabaret.