Nathaniel Hall made an impact this year with his outstanding performance in Russell T. Davies’s HIV drama It’s a Sin — and he’s also been open in recent years about his own experiences living with HIV since his teens.
In an interview with Attitude magazine in 2019, Hall first spoke about the devastation he felt when he learned he had contracted HIV following his first sexual experience at 16. (The article was republished this year due to his appearance on It’s a Sin.)
“It was like being hit by a truck” the now-34-year-old Hall remembered of receiving the diagnosis.
Hall revealed he had been involved in a whirlwind romance with an older lover “between 23 and 26,” given the pseudonym of “Sam.” Sam claimed he had tested negative at the time, so Hall gave protection and safe sex little thought. But two weeks after his 17th birthday he discovered he was HIV-positive. He was bluntly (and inaccurately) informed he’d most likely be dead by age 37.
“That was so hard to hear, to have a date on it,” he recalled.
Hall said he turned to drugs and alcohol, self-medicating through substance abuse. By 2017, however, he realized his abuse was destroying his “drive and sense of purpose” and he no longer recognized the hollowed face staring back at him from the mirror.
Finally realizing his “mental health had taken a nose dive,” he decided he “could either let this eat me up and swallow me whole, or flip it and turn it into [something] positive.”
The result of his epiphany was First Time, his hilarious but gut-wrenching one-man show, in which he revealed to the world he was living with HIV.
And now, Hall is again tackling the issue of HIV in It’s a Sin. He plays Donald Bassett, the actor boyfriend of protagonist Ritchie Tozer, played by Years & Years frontman Olly Alexander. The show follows four hopeful young adults who move to London in 1981 to embrace their lives and identity, only to have their worlds torn apart by the explosion of HIV in the United Kingdom during the next decade.