Bukky Bakray finds out she’s won

Local actor Bukky Bakray reacted with delight after being named Rising Star at last night’s Baftas.

The teenager, still in Year 13 at Cardinal Pole School in Homerton, has received critical acclaim and a boatload of award nominations for her debut role as the lead in local film Rocks.

The Rising Star category is the only one voted on by the public and many past victors have gone on to become household names, such as Tom Hardy, Kristen Stewart and John Boyega.

The first ever winner was James McAvoy, who presented the award at last night’s virtual ceremony.

Bakray is still at school in Hackney. Photograph: Tom Dymond

Bukky Bakray, whose excited response to her triumph sent social media aflutter, said: Thank you so much Bafta and EE, I appreciate this so much.

“The highlight of this awards journey has been the recognition [of being] in a category with my fellow nominees. I can’t describe how humbling and what a blessing it is to be put on the same boat as those talented human beings.

“I’ve got a special appreciation for the Rocks family as well. Thank you for seeing something in me that I never saw in myself.”

Bakray plays titular character Rocks in the film, which follows her and her little brother as they evade social services after their mother goes awol.

The film is set in Hackney and a number of the cast members, including Bakray, were hand-picked by the production team from schools around the borough. Casting director Lucy Pardee also picked up an award.

Emma Baehr, executive director of awards and content at Bafta, said: “The EE Rising Star Award is all about recognising, celebrating and supporting up-and-coming talent, something that sits at the heart of everything we do at Bafta.

“We’re so delighted to be announcing our 16th winner of the award alongside EE as Bukky Bakray. A deserved winner amongst a fantastic list of nominees and we can’t wait to see what they all go on to do next.”

The other nominees were Kingsley Ben-Adir, Morfydd Clark, Sope Dirisu Conrad Khan. The final shortlist was selected by a panel of industry experts including Bafta chair Krishnendu Majumdar and actors Naomi Ackie, Alicia Vikander and Jo Hartley.

Bakray was also up for Best Actress, but that went to Oscar-winner Frances McDormand for her role in Nomadland, which also scooped Best Film and Best Director for Chloé Zhao.

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