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What it’s like to be a Pinay extra on Netflix’s Sex Education

by Gaby Agbulos

LAST September 21st, Netflix released the fourth and final season of the beloved British teen comedy Sex Education. 

This show follows the life of a boy called Otis Milburn, a young boy trying his best to navigate high school life as a socially awkward teen with a mother who’s a sex therapist. 

When he meets Maeve Wiley, he soon finds himself setting up a sex clinic at school, all while having to hide his big secret: he’s never actually had sex.

Since the first season, this show has caught the attention of many because of its heartwarming scenes of advice and acceptance, showing the reality of life as a teenager: it’s messy, and at times it can be horrible and heartbreaking. But it can be beautiful, too.

Known for its iconic scenes like Aimee being joined by a group of girls after she’s harassed on the bus, or Doctor Jean teaching viewers that asexuality is valid and sexuality is fluid, Sex Education has imparted to viewers a number of important lessons not only on sex, but on life and love as well. 

This makes it all the more special that a Filipina was a part of the show, able to witness in person how the last season unfolded.

The lovely Elle Dela Cruz

Meet Elle

Back in 2022, 20-year-old Elle Dela Cruz stumbled across an open casting call in Bristol for extras for Sex Education. After auditioning, she was lucky enough to become a part of the show as a supporting artist. 

She said the audition was packed and she was in line for almost seven hours, but overall, the experience was fine. 

“It was pretty chill, they only took measurements and pictures,” she recalled. 

If you look closely, you’ll see her in several scenes. Even as a character in the background, she’s sure to stand out.

And she wasn’t the only Filipino on set! There, she met three others just like her: Angelina Parello-Javar, Angeli Milleni Cajuigan, and Shainah Geisha, who were all repping Pinoy pride on the Sex Ed set.

Even now that the season’s aired, Dela Cruz says that it all feels surreal getting to be in such an incredible role. To her, it’s all still a pinch-me moment.

Sex Ed’s open casting call

What it was like on-set

Dela Cruz shared that the show was shot in different locations; there were some scenes done in Cardiff and Bristol, but most of the filming happened in Newport.

She was on and off the set for six months in total. There were months when she would only be booked once, and others when she’d be on-set on numerous days. 

Each time there was a shoot, she’d take a 3-hour train ride to South Wales, which she found to be worth it given what she was able to experience.

“The call times are usually painfully early but once nasa set ka na, you’ll feel awake kasi sobrang nakakahawa yung energy ng mga tao sa set,” she said.

“[Instead] of feeling knackered, there’s this buzz that’ll keep you going through the day. Everyone on set is chill and fun to work with, plus the production really looked after everyone,” she added.  

As a supporting artist, Dela Cruz was lucky enough to connect with many people on set. 

Whenever she’d find herself in the holding area, she’d be able to talk to all sorts of different people, many of whom eventually became her friends along the way. 

“Since we play students, it also helps that we get to bond before the actual filming, kasi mas nagiging natural yung flow whenever we’re being filmed,” she said.

A photo from Sex Ed’s casting call (courtesy of Elle Dela Cruz)

The importance of Sex Education

In the Philippines today, many feel that there is still a lack of depth when it comes to sex education. Mainly, kids are taught about reproductive organs and the importance of family planning and chastity, but learn nothing about what you should do if you want to have sex. 

Even now, premarital sex is considered wrong in this country, often left undiscussed because it’s seen as taboo. Dela Cruz also noted that many people still hold conservative values, which makes it even harder to talk about this topic properly. 

She added that though there’s nothing entirely wrong with being conservative, there are times when it hampers efforts for better sex education. 

This is where TV shows like Sex Education can help, she said. 

“Shows like Sex Education play an essential role in providing Gen Zs information about sexual health, relationships, and consent, [and] a lot of Gen Zs may not receive comprehensive sex education in schools or at home, so shows like these can fill in the gaps and provide information,” she said.

These TV shows help to take away from the taboo notion that sex is a bad thing. It helps to promote open conversations and also addresses unique challenges that teenagers – or even people in general – face when it comes to sexuality and relationships.

All in all, a show such as Sex Education helps to create healthier, more well-informed, more empowered young adults, which is something that the world needs more of.

This is why Dela Cruz feels that there should be shows like this in the Philippines, as well.

“Contextualizing a show like Sex Education in the Filipino perspective would definitely reach more conservatives, but it’s ultimately a matter of cultural, social, and regulatory considerations,” she said. 

“It would be great to see a show with such [a] theme on Philippine television, but its possibility is dependent on the willingness of content creators, educators, and regulators to work together to address the needs of the audience while respecting some cultural sensitivities,” she added. 

She also said that while it’s important to educate people, it’s also essential to produce a show with a topic such as this in a manner that’s both thoughtful and responsible to ensure that it serves the best interests of the people. 



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