Top Boy’s Saffron Hocking says impact of domestic abuse storyline on women means ‘more than’ awards

Top Boy star Saffron Hocking has said that the impact her domestic abuse storyline has had on survivors worldwide means “more” than any “accolade”.

The actor, 29, was nominated for the Bafta for Best Supporting Actress for her role of Lauryn Lawrence in Netflix’s drama series.

In the previous season of the show, Lauryn was being coercively controlled by her partner and his sister.

Speaking ahead of the arrival of Top Boy season five – the third to air on Netflix after the show was picked up from Channel 4 – Hocking said that the storyline had given her “that weight of responsibility for the first time in my acting career”.

“It’s an incredible storyline to have as an actor – something to sink your teeth into,” she told Cosmopolitan UK. “Then the fear: I cannot get this wrong.”

The Riches actor is an ambassador for domestic abuse charity Refuge, and explained: “It would be my nightmare to portray something that wasn’t real or relatable, or that amplified abuse negatively. I needed to find those people on the front line.”

She continued: “Accolades are great, but women from all over the world thanking me for embodying their stories is incredible. I don’t think I was totally prepared for that.

“I’ve received so many messages from survivors around the world - I took all the time to reply, usually in floods of tears... That meant more than anything coming from my peers in the industry.”

Hocking (left) with Jasmine Jobson in ‘Top Boy’ season three (Ana Blumenkron/Netflix)
Hocking (left) with Jasmine Jobson in ‘Top Boy’ season three (Ana Blumenkron/Netflix)

Hocking said that she hopes to continue to “challenge misconceptions” with other roles going forward with the parts she plays.

“This experience has broadened my acting, but also really awakened something in me,” she said. “I want to take on those roles that are meaningful for people... It makes my job feel special.”

Top Boy is set in a fictional estate in Hackney, east London, and follows gang kingpins Dushane and Sully, played by Ashley Walters and Kane “Kano” Robinson, as they ruthlessly strive to become the dominant local “top boys”.

The show first aired on Channel 4 in 2011, with a second run of episodes airing in 2013. However, after the show was cancelled, it was revived by Netflix in 2019 following interest from rapper Drake, who serves as an executive producer on the streaming service’s version of the show.

The fifth and final season of Top Boy will see Barry Keoghan and Brian Gleeson join the show alongside returning cast members including rapper Little Simz.

You can read The Independent’s review of Top Boy season five here.

Top Boy season five is on Netflix now.

The national domestic abuse helpline offers support for women on 0808 2000 247, or you can visit the Refuge website. There is a dedicated men’s advice line on 0808 8010 327. Those in the US can call the domestic violence hotline on 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

Other international helplines can be found via

Additional reporting by Press Association.