Calvin Demba on SUPACELL: Inside the Ambitious Urban Drama

by | Jun 28, 2024

Actor Calvin Demba discusses his compelling role in SUPACELL, sharing insights on the show's unique blend of urban drama and supernatural elements.
Actor Calvin Demba, renowned for his dynamic roles across genres, dives into his latest project, SUPACELL, with enthusiasm and depth. Our features editor, Sofia Deus, had the pleasure of catching up with Calvin, who was drawn by Rapman’s gripping script and the ambitious scale of the show. In SUPACELL, Calvin portrays Rodney, a character battling inner turmoil and abandonment issues.
Set in South London, the series blends urban drama with supernatural elements, allowing Calvin to explore a complex narrative that remains authentic while embracing the fantastical. In this interview, Calvin shares his insights on working with Rapman, the challenges of blending realism with sci-fi, and his dedication to bringing genuine, multifaceted characters to life.




SD – Calvin, you have an impressive array of roles across different genres and platforms. What drew you to the character you play in SUPACELL, and how do you feel it differs from your previous roles?

CD – I thought Rapman’s script was original and a real page-turner. The scale and ambition of the show drew me in instantly, and I thought Rodney had good intentions despite being served a poor hand in life. I like characters with inner turmoil. Rodney keeps a brave face to the world, but inside, he is struggling with abandonment issues and needs his family, whether that be biological or surrogate.

SD – SUPACELL is created by Rapman, known for Blue Story. How has working with him influenced your approach to your character and the series as a whole?

CD – We were fortunate to have a very collaborative writer/director in Raps. I asked Rapman many questions about who he thought Rodney was and offered my ideas about the character, costume, and potential backstory. For the most part, we were aligned on who Rodney was before production commenced. Raps had a lot of trust in us as a cast, so I felt free to play and experiment with the part.

SD – The premise of SUPACELL combines elements of urban drama with supernatural abilities. How do you balance the realism of South London life with the fantastical elements of superpowers in your portrayal?

CD – It helps that our show’s creator is a South London native. Some of Supacell derives from Rap’s lived experience. Therefore, we could keep the show authentic when realism was necessary whilst heightening our world when we were leaning into the SciFi. In many ways, we were not making a superhero show, so our “superpowers” aided the show’s storytelling without being the key focus of the narrative. I played the part genuine to who I thought Rodney was; he was trying to help himself, not save the world.



SD – Your performance in *BOYS ON THE VERGE OF TEARS at the Soho Theatre has received rave reviews. What challenges and rewards come with performing a kaleidoscopic tale set in such an unconventional setting?
CD – The main challenge of the play was all of its quick costume changes. We were all multi-rolling, playing several parts whilst being limited for space backstage; our movement had to be carefully orchestrated. Reward-wise, there’s nothing better than being on stage bearing it all (quite literally, in my case). The biggest reward is, in my opinion, your autonomy as a performer; there’s no “I know there’s a better take in the edit”. You are the edit in real time, for better or for worse.
SD – *With BOYS ON THE VERGE OF TEARS, you tackle a broad range of emotions and roles. How do you prepare for such a diverse and intense performance?

CD – The luxury of theatre is that there’s usually a nice rehearsal process beforehand, where you all figure it out together behind closed doors. I had a great director in James Macdonald, great writing in Sam Grabiner, and a cast I trusted implicitly. When you’re on a good team, you have to trust the process and know there’s a reason for you being cast. Sometimes, it’s easier said than done.


SD – You’ve worked on notable projects like *THE RIG, LIFE, and YARDIE. How do you choose your roles, and what do you look for in a script or a character?


CD – I read the script, and if I think I could bring something to the project, I audition. Yardie was an opportunity to work with one of my heroes, Idris Elba, so I was elated when the offer came in. Life had such beautiful writing and a great cast attached, and The Rig was the first time I ever worked using VFX or did anything that could be considered sci-fi/Horror. I also listen to my agent’s advice; Donna has excellent taste in projects, and sometimes, it helps to have her as my voice of reason whenever I’m on the fence.


SD – *Your short film RUE BOY has been commissioned by Channel 4. Can you tell us more about the story and what inspired you to write and create it?
CD – It’s a reflective short film told through spoken word. Our protagonist, Callum, is a Jack the Lad type who has a one-night stand (despite having a girlfriend) with a lady who later reveals herself as a man. Callum then must confront his internal homophobia, fragile masculinity and also his partner to get a hold of his world.  I don’t know how I got inspired to tell the tale other than I was desperate to make something of my own. I self-funded the project using my savings from acting work, starred as the lead character and then when I had enough material shot to show people, Random Acts stepped in and made the rest.
SD – Balancing acting with writing, directing, and producing is no small feat. How do you manage these different aspects of your career, and how do they influence each other?
CD – They all come from my desire to tell stories, so I treat them equally. If something is important to you, you manage by any means. I enjoy reading scripts, so it was only a matter of time before I attempted to write my own. Writing gives me a deeper appreciation for the text as an actor. Being on set and receiving performance notes gives me insight into how a good director communicates on set. I aim to keep growing in all mediums of storytelling.
SD – You’ve been nominated for Emerging Talent at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards. How does recognition from such esteemed bodies impact your career and your approach to your craft?*
CD – I think it helps my agent get me into rooms. As for me, it’s nice to get a pat on the back, but I can’t invest too much time thinking about external validation. If I approach my craft with stars in my eyes, I’ll be blinded by the lights. My best bet is to crack on with my work with my eyes open and ears shut to the hype.
SD – Lastly, what message or experience do you hope audiences take away from your diverse body of work, from the stage to the screen, and now with *SUPACELL?
CD – I hope they like what I’ve done and what I have yet to do. Truthfully, though, I appreciate them for feeling anything! Without an audience, I’d be out of a job. On that note, thanks for reading!

SUPACELL: Now Streaming on Netflix

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