Tosin Cole | It’s Calm, It’s Hectic, It’s Curious Movement Through Time

The 'Supacell' Actor on the New Netflix Sci-Fi Thriller and His Approach to Character

Written by

Mariam Bagdady

Photographed by

Elliott Wilcox

Styled by

Jay Hines

No items found.
GUCCI top and talent’s own ring (worn throughout). 

We often define ourselves by what we are rather than who we are, or even who we become. We long for space, hunger for some kind of individuality, and beg for time to be kind unto our own evolving beings. Yet, even in the echoes of one’s stripped persona do a select few break the pattern and discover their voice amidst the ebbing flow of existence. Call it luck. Maybe destiny. Perhaps it is only kismet that proves itself to those who find themselves in its presence. But for Tosin Cole, finding one’s voice is innately human nature.

Adapting to the world around him has been no new feat for the New York-born, London-raised actor, and his work is but one example of his dynamic creativity. He has strived, aspired, and ventured into worlds unknown; danced in enigmatic melodramas, faced the dramatics of The Cut, fought the First Order in an epic space opera, aided the 13th Doctor against the nefarious Daleks, and even been a keyboardist in one of the most iconic reggae bands in music history.

GUCCI top and talent’s own ring (worn throughout). 

From Star Wars and Doctor Who, to the musical realities of Bob Marley: One Love, and now with his latest project Supacell, in which he plays superhuman Michael who is amongst a select few faced with the confusing existence of powers in everyday life, Cole has had to transform his identity in ways that go beyond time and reality. However, it is in the characters he adapts to that he experiences some of his deepest self-connections.

“Certain feelings and certain situations are just universal. And the feelings in those things are universal,” Cole explains as we talk about finding oneself in the characters and scripts he’s presented with. You can sense a genuineness as he speaks—an exuberant, uncomplicated honesty embedded in his every word and indulging this idea of universality as a means of tapping into our truest selves. “You want to push yourself,” he reflects. “You want to be a part of stuff that you want to watch and you kind of have to feel it. I just feel like I want to do stuff that makes me feel good, makes me feel challenged, or speaks to me directly and to my being.”

GUCCI coat, pants, and shoes.

He continues: “When it clicks, it clicks. And if it doesn’t, that’s okay. You’re discovering a new way of feeling or a new way of thinking through that portrayal of this character or telling of this story. So it’s just about whenever or wherever [their voice] connects or aligns with you.” However, he is also aware of the way selfhood within art can be subjective and notes that too much identity in a role can strip the character’s voice entirely. He shares, “You don’t want to play yourself all the time though. If we can find ways to reinvent ourselves within these characters that’s more interesting and that’s more fulfilling and fun to play. How can I find a connection but also come away from myself and become Michael?”

There’s a certain candidness in the way he discusses his roles, which is similarly found in how he performs. It’s as though it isn’t a different individual he has set out to become, but rather a figment of himself that he is wholly encapsulated by, and strives to bring out from the shadows of his inner being. In Cole’s case, identity and performance are intertwined. As I sat to watch the first four episodes of the upcoming Netflix sci-fi, I was intrigued. Both by Cole’s authenticity and the show’s intricacy. Supacell is raw, and definitive in its portrayal of the ordinary and surreal, and it crafts a bridge in which the art becomes reality and a message of identity and power seeks escape.

GUCCI coat, top, pants, and shoes.

I ask Cole about the prejudicial narratives within supernatural realms and how he’s challenged those barriers. He responds with a directness, noting that even in understanding those nuances, his role is to bridge the gap between Michael’s exploration of identity in an overly partial world with that of the audience. “First and foremost, you want people to be entertained,” Cole begins, a smile etched on his face before he expands on the importance of finding the middle ground between performance and impact. “Hopefully [Supacell] can provoke some emotion and also educate people because we’re dealing with real-life issues. Certain things and certain subject matters that we have conversations about and our characters have conversations about—these are still real-life issues for people...You just want to move people. You want to move and educate them.”

PRADA sweater, pants, and shoes.

Tosin Cole certainly is no stranger to the action of creating with emotion at its forefront. Having recently played the legendary keyboardist Tyrone Downie in the musical drama Bob Marley: One Love, Cole has researched, understood, and completely become a part of a culture and music that has transcended the limitedness of time. He calls his involvement in the film an honor before emphasizing just how impactful witnessing this identity come to fruition has been, saying, “To be part of something this historic and iconic...to watch his impact from behind the scenes...it was an honor to be part of telling their story.”

SAINT LAURENT BY ANTHONY VACARRELLO jacket, shirt, pants, and shoes.

And, just as Cole unravels his joyous pathos in finding his voice amongst those of such notable stature, we find ourselves reflecting on time and its role in crafting our outward psyche. We circle back to the fluidity of both, now exploring his latest character’s similar struggles while touching upon Michael’s power over time itself. I question if there is truth in time, asking Cole if having such control over it in a superhuman world has had any effect on his reality. “Yes,” he admits. “There’s always going to be some kind of connection when playing a character. I just try to not get too lost in it.” But he explains no further. Instead, I ask him what he would classify this show as in one word. “Hectic,” Cole says with a laugh. “It starts calm and then it just gets hectic.” And he’s right– for what is identity and power if not a hectic exploration of all that we are and will be? 

PRADA coat and sweater.

Photographed and Flaunt Film by Elliot Wilcox

Styled by Jay Hines 

Written by Mariam Bagdady

Grooming: Terri Capon at Stella Creative Artists

Flaunt Film Music: Bayeux

Set Design: Joshua Stovell at Drop Studios

Stylist Assistants: Olivia May, Jai Simmons, and Gabriella Lane.

No items found.
No items found.
Flaunt Magazine, Tosin Cole, Supacell, Gucci, Prada, Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello, Mariam Bagdady, Elliott Wilcox, Jay Hines