Hollyoaks has brought newcomer Vincent Elegba to the forefront of the soap this week as viewers are discovering more about his past.
Last night's (June 25) Channel 4 episode saw Vincent share a kiss with sixth former George Smith (Steven Roberts), before revealing that he left his country because it is illegal to be gay in Nigeria.
Digital Spy recently caught up with John Omole, who plays Vincent, to hear where the storyline is heading next.
How are you finding your time at Hollyoaks so far?
"It's been great. Everyone is so welcoming and we all have quite a bit in common because it's such a young cast. Even the older cast members are young at heart! I've built up some really good friendships."
Did you know Vincent's secret all along, or was it a surprise for you when you read the scripts?
"I knew from the start. When my agent sent me the details of the role, I was told that Vincent would end up being gay, even though we weren't quite sure how he was going to get there at that point!"
Now that we know Vincent is gay, what can we expect next from the storyline?
"Now that the truth about Vincent has been revealed to the viewers, it's really going to kick the storyline into gear. At first there was a lot of mystery because I think people were wondering, 'Who is this Vincent character?'
"Now you're going to see the story pick up the pace. You'll find out more about Vincent and how he's going to affect the people around him. Hopefully it was a nice surprise for the viewers and they're looking forward to what's coming next."
As we've seen, Phoebe thought Vincent had a romantic interest in her. Do you think he gave her any mixed signals?
"No, I don't think Vincent gave Phoebe any mixed signals - he literally just thought that he'd found such a good friend and he was being as close as a best friend would be. People may accuse him of leading Phoebe on because he's been so friendly towards her, but I think that was completely innocent. He's a nice guy and he'd never go out to lead someone on like that."
What are Vincent's feelings towards George?
"Vincent is very, very confused. He feels a very big attraction towards George, but he doesn't quite know what it is. George is definitely the first person Vincent has felt this way towards since he's come over to the UK. It's a mixed emotion of friendship, attraction and I think it later gets on its way to love.
"With Phoebe in the mix, Vincent also feels a sense of guilt because he could be coming between two very, very close friends. He feels every which way about George - he likes him but he's not sure if anything could ever happen between them, partly due to Phoebe and partly due to his own background."
Are you hoping Vincent and Phoebe can find a way to stay friends?
"I personally am, but we'll have to wait and see whether they can do! This situation isn't about two nasty people, it's about two people who have very, very warm hearts and are very loving. Hopefully Vincent will be sorry about the way things have panned out and hopefully there'll be a sense of forgiveness from Phoebe after that. Looking at it, it's nobody's fault as you can't control who you fall in love with."
How much danger would Vincent be in if he was deported?
"Very, very big danger! Where Vincent is from, he could be sent to prison for his sexuality, or people in his local village or town could even kill him. So Vincent isn't just running for his freedom, he's running for his life. It's very, very important that he finds a way to stay in the country."
What happens when evil Trevor is brought into the mix?
"Phoebe goes to Trevor to get a fake passport for Vincent, but he ends up holding her hostage. Vincent gets there to rescue her with support from George, but Trevor warns that Vincent is not going anywhere. He tells Vincent that he's his property.
"At this moment, Vincent is very scared but he also knows that if he doesn't stay with Trevor, then it's going to be Phoebe or George staying. He wouldn't be able to handle that, so he knows the best thing he can do is keep quiet and have Phoebe and George go away to hopefully get help. Vincent has a hero complex where he wants to help those closest to him."
What are Steven and Mandip (Phoebe) like to work with?
"Absolutely sensational! I feel like I've really established a big bond with those two. Because this is only my first big job on television, I'm learning a lot from the two of them, which is great. As Mandip worked so closely with Claire Cooper for such a long time, I feel like she's passing a lot down to me at the moment."
Being on Twitter, have you seen much reaction to your character yet?
"I have! I've been a bit nosy and had a little look to see what the reaction to Vincent is. With any character you get ups and downs, and I think at the moment it's 70% good! A lot of people seem keen to see more of Vincent and the sweetness of him is attractive to them. Others are just saying, 'Who is this guy?' and 'Why is he here?' It's all good and it's a healthy thing!"
After training as an actor, a lot of your work has been on the stage. How does the TV world compare?
"It's a very, very different kind of craft. When I got here, I was very lucky to have Claire with me on my second shoot for the lorry scenes. I also had Mandip with me for the first thing we shot, which was the bedroom scene between the two of us. I had help and advice from those two as well as the directors.
"There's quite a bit to learn, as in the theatre you have to really project your voice to a lot of people, but on television you often have to be more subtle. It's a very big learning curve for me but it's really exciting."
Was Hollyoaks one of your first auditions?
"I'd done a few auditions before Hollyoaks, but they were mainly for theatre. I've always done well in auditions but to get so far in the Hollyoaks process was fantastic. I'm usually the person who gets quite far but just misses out at the end!"
We know that in real life, you're from South London. Has it been difficult to take on Vincent's accent?
"It can be more difficult doing an accent like this on the screen, because there's a much bigger audience watching. If it was just in the theatre, it'd be easier to do because I could lay the accent on as thick as possible.
"I feel that I sometimes don't go as far as I can with the accent, because I know that it needs to be watched by such a broad audience. It can be hard to find the right level. But I have grown up with the accent because both of my parents are from Nigeria, so that bit isn't too difficult at all."
What are your hobbies and interests outside of acting?
"I love football, both playing and watching it. That's my biggest hobby and then just normal things like watching TV and going out with friends. Just being a normal 23-year-old lad, really!"
> Read more 'Hollyoaks' spoilers and news
Hollyoaks airs weeknights at 6.30pm on Channel 4, with first look screenings at 7pm on E4.
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