Reggie Yates on the area of London that changed his understanding of class

The director of 'Pirates' on the lessons he learnt from Liverpool Road

Chiara Wilkinson
Written by
Chiara Wilkinson
Features Editor, UK

In the late 1980s, I used to walk down Liverpool Road every day to go to school. The Angel end was shiny and lovely, and the Holloway end, where I grew up on an estate, not so much. For Halloween, my mum wouldn’t buy me and my sister costumes, so we’d put on black bin bags and go to all the fancy houses to get shitloads of Snickers and Mars bars, rather than the penny chews we’d get from our block. 

I soon realised that my life was probably very different to that of some kids in my class. But I also realised that I could literally live next door to the things that I was dreaming about for my family and that it was tangible and achievable. 

When I began acting, as a kid, people started to treat me differently when a chauffeur-driven Mercedes was picking me up to go to work. Understanding who you are versus the way people see you was a huge lesson for me. When I drive down Liverpool Road these days, I occasionally zip into the estate and say hello to some of the people I grew up with. Those surroundings didn’t define me then and they still don’t, but they’re a huge part of what made me who I am.

‘Pirates’, written and directed by Reggie Yates, is in cinemas now.

Read more from this series:

Chef Vivek Singh on finding a home for his first restaurant in Westminster.

‘Hamilton’ star Giles Terera on the pizza that changed his fate.

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