Nitin Ganatra: I was beaten up by racists every day
EastEnders star Nitin Ganatra has told how he piled on weight in his youth as he battled racism on a “daily basis”.
The Kenyan-born actor, 51, is enjoying his first theatre role for 16 years in a play about a washed-up comic whose career ends after he is filmed telling racist jokes.
Ganatra, known for his role as Masood in Albert Square, told Loose Women: “I’m a kid of the 70s and 80s and when we came over here as immigrants I’d live in a corner shop.
“My mum was being spat at, my dad was being beaten up. I was being beaten up on a daily basis by skinheads.”
He said: “We grew up with racism at school, not just by kids but maybe some of the teachers.”
The actor said he encountered racism recently after walking home from rehearsals for the play End Of The Pier, which also stars Les Dennis.
“In rehearsals we were talking about racism and I happened to be walking home and a van pulled past, opened the window and shouted the most explicit, racist things that I hadn’t heard for a while.”
Ganatra sought solace in food in his younger years, telling the ITV show: “I had a sketch pad so I spent a lot of time sketching, and food, comfort eating was my thing.
“I was very big, probably obese by the time I was about 12.
“I think if you’ve been bullied for your weight and your colour, you find ways of coping and food was a way.”
The soap star praised one of his former teachers, who he is still in touch with, for bringing him out of his shell, saying: “I had a speech impediment at one point. I was so shy. She got me on stage and changed my life.”