The latest season of the Netflix original drama, Top Boy, was released a week ago.
Picking up after events we watched back in 2019, the season continued on with all the major storylines, gave us some new faces, and delved deeper into the backgrounds of our favourite characters, with Jaq, her sister Lauryn, and new girlfriend Becks at the centre of some of the most complex, heart-wrenching storylines.
So, we sat down for a chat with Jasmine Jobson, Saffron Hocking, and new addition Adwoa Aboah to find out all of their roles in the latest season.
The finale of the last season saw Lauryn (Saffron Hocking) flee the estate after betraying her loyalties to Jaq (Jasmine Jobson) and Summerhouse, and it wasn’t clear if Lauryn would be back. While we didn’t see much of her at Summerhouse, Lauryn’s one of the season’s major characters.
Scripts were shared with cast members in stages, so Saffron didn’t know the full extent of Lauryn’s domestic abuse storyline until she began having conversations with the writers – that’s when she sprang into action. “I thought, okay, if I'm going to be given a storyline like this, which is so much responsibility, I really want to do it justice, and to the best of my ability without glorifying it or doing it for entertainment purposes.”
She reached out to Refuge, a charity that supports women and children experiencing domestic violence, to learn as much as she could. “They educated me on different types of abuse – I think a lot of people assume that there's violence or physicality involved when they hear domestic abuse. But there are so many different things; there's coercive control, withholding of funds, stalking, gaslighting. keeping people isolated, which is basically everything that my character goes through. I really tried to apply everything that they were kind enough to give me to the role and do it as much justice as it deserves.."
“I thought: okay, if I'm going to be given a storyline like this, which is so much responsibility, I really want to do it justice, and to the best of my ability without glorifying it or doing it for entertainment purposes.”
One of Top Boy’s newest additions, Becks is introduced to Jaq’s on a blind date in the first episode. It’s not exactly love at first sight, but it’s not long before we see a bond that grows across the season. While she’s a pro in the modelling world, this is one of Adwoa Aboah’s first big acting roles. She told us it was really important to her that she played Becks, a queer character in a truthful way, “My attitude has been to always talk about the ‘what if,’ so I was able to bring my truth into a situation that I haven't necessarily been through. But it was really important for me to talk to friends about what they've been through, how they feel about holding someone's hand in public. I spoke to a lot of friends within the queer community, just to kind of get their sense on the different layers of what things might feel like.”
Jasmine Jobson was nominated for a BAFTA in 2020 for her role as Jaq, and we all know her as one tough cookie. But when the fate of Ats is revealed early on, Jaq’s vulnerability starts to show, and, like her relationship with Becks, continues to grow across the season. Jasmine was all for showing her character’s vulnerability – so how did she prepare to tap into Jaq’s softer side? “I found that I was listening to a lot of emotional music. And that would make me feel really, really down and upset. “There was one day I spent the whole day listening to James Blunt. it's definitely been beautiful.”
Filming a drama as intense as Top Boy is challenging in itself but the cast had the added challenge of shooting some of their most difficult scenes during COVID restrictions, so sets were often quieter than usual. Playing a victim of abuse added another dimension to Saffron’s time on set, who told us it was an isolating experience, but it gave her strength: “It was emotionally testing at the best of times. I’d do the scenes and just feel completely shattered afterwards. And I was acting that – there are women out there that go through that day in, day out. They want to get out of it and can’t. So, it made me sad. It was a really emotional role to play.”
"It was emotionally testing at the best of times. I’d do the scenes and just feel completely shattered afterwards. And I was acting that – there are women out there that go through that day in, day out."
As a method actor, Jasmine told us that the experience was sometimes so draining and painful that she would finish a scene and would need to cry. With such harrowing scenes, it's a good thing that restrictions didn’t stop them bonding on set, Adwoa told us, “Jas and Saffron were my guardian angels, and Saffron became my ride or die. On set, we looked after each other and I was definitely able to kind of make friends with crew members.”
Relationships and family are the heart of Top Boy, so it was only natural that Jaq’s loyalties to Lauryn and Summerhouse would be tested. But neither Jasmine nor Saffron knew where things were going when they finished filming the last season.
Jasmine: “I had no idea, I don't even know if I was ready for it, to be totally honest with you. I couldn't imagine having a disagreement with my sisters and us not talking for a while. This journey with Saffron was definitely an experience that I had to prepare myself for, but it’s been so much fun. I feel that me and Saffron have absolutely smashed the sibling bond.”
Saffron didn’t have any expectations of where things would go but told us: “At the end of the day, they’re family, and in family – in real life and on-screen – we say the most terrible things to one another and have these huge blowouts, but the love will always be there, in whatever capacity. I think that Jaq has an overwhelming loyalty to Lauryn. I've got so much love for Jasmine. I've got so much love for Jaq. I think it's a beautiful dynamic and a really strong one.” – showing that bonds we watched throughout the series didn’t stop when the cameras did.
"At the end of the day, they’re family, and in family, we say the most terrible things to one another and have these huge blowouts, but the love will always be there, in whatever capacity."
And while we’ve caught glimpses of a loved up Jaq before, this season was the first time we got a deeper look into that aspect of her life. Jasmine and Adwoa both agree that her romance with Becks was pivotal in the major character growth we saw in Jaq.
Jasmine: “Jaq was kind of used to people throwing in those shady comments, all those little things that she just brushed off with another little diss, you know – didn’t seem to really affect her. Jaq’s heart got broken right at the beginning – there’s a knock-on effect and she never really gets a break. But I feel she was just at that point where it's just had enough, things need to get better. And I feel that we see that more through her relationship with Becks.”
Through the two of them, we see a multifaceted queer relationship – violence against LGBT people of colour is highlighted through the terrifying attack against Jaq – but their story mainly focuses on the reflection and self-development that comes with falling in love, and the authenticity is clear.
Saffron: “You see a relationship, a loving relationship with the two people that really love each other. It's not a storyline, like, ‘oh Jaq’s gay, let’s give her a girlfriend’ but a loving, normal relationship that real people have.”
Adwoa: “It’s two single women getting to know each other. And that can be awkward, and there can be arguments from the get-go, but there’s this lovely sensitivity, and it's so gentle. So I think it's really important for people to see that not just be like: that's what it's like to be in a relationship with a woman and blah, blah, blah – just a bit too performative. And I don't think their relationship is.”
"It’s two single women getting to know each other. And that can be awkward, and there can be arguments from the get-go, but there’s this lovely sensitivity, and it's so gentle."
This season of Top Boy was full of so many great storylines, so we couldn’t finish without asking the three what their favourites were.
Adwoa: “I loved all the storylines but I would have to say Dushane’s, I think because of the mental health aspect. I've been lucky enough to speak to Ashley (Walters) on the Girls Talk podcast, where he was amazingly open about his own personal struggles with mental health. So I think, for him to transcend and bring that into a show he’s created, and to play that so beautifully in such a subtle and important way that will reach so many people was something that I really, really liked. And I also want to shout out Josephine de la Boum, who's also new to the season as well and I love her, you know, her storyline that intertwines with Kano’s.”
Saffron: “I love Stefan’s storyline with Tia. It's so sweet because they’re friends, but he also takes a sort of paternal role with her and her sister – he’s constantly at the house, and we can see they’re living in a not great environment. There’s a beautiful scene where he offers Tia’s little sister a piece of chocolate, and then goes to grab another piece and he goes “oh you may as well take the whole thing” and just gives her the whole chocolate bar. To see Stefan’s character, as the youngest brother who lost both his parents, taking on a protective role with these sisters is beautiful, I love it.”
Jasmine: “After Lauryn’s, I would have to say Shelley, she's fierce. One fierce woman. Women really took the centre this season, we smashed it this year.”
Have you finished the latest season of Top Boy yet? Don't forget to share your thoughts in the comments below!
All seasons of Top Boy and Top Boy: Summerhouse are available to stream on Netflix.
Some answers have been edited for length/clarity.