Rising star Bukky Rocks big screen
Will the 2021 BAFTAs officially be known as the ceremony of the nobody who became a somebody?
Nominees Anthony Hopkins, Frances McDormand, Riz Ahmed, Daniel Kaluuya and Vanessa Kirby are likely to spark some cognitive recognition. But that’s about it.
For this year’s celebration is all about rising British talent. Step forward Bukky Bakray, tipped to win Best Actress as well as the EE Rising Star Award.
Yep, I had never heard of her either.
And that’s because the 18-year-old was plucked from obscurity in Hackney, east London, to star in breakout film Rocks.
She plays British-Nigerian schoolgirl Shola, aka Rocks, whose struggling mother takes off, leaving her to fend for herself and her younger brother Emmanuel.
It’s a story of urban hardship and resilience as much as a celebration of female friendship – and Bukky’s debut performance is incredible.
All the girls, including the scenestealing Sumaya, played by Kosar Ali, are first-time actors scouted from London schools.
Director Sarah Gavron, of Suffragette fame, and casting director Lucy Pardee, sat in Bukky’s classroom for nine months, observing her.
“I was very shocked,” the teenager says. “It was a very long process. I had no idea what Sarah was doing at the back of the classroom.
“Lucy was always on her phone and I was thinking to myself, ‘This lady is
once turned down £75k a year to star in a soap.
The actor, who won the Outstanding rude’. Later on, I found out she was taking notes.”
Bukky had never really thought about being an actor – aside from once, when she watched the film Training Day with her brothers.
When the credits rolled, she re-enacted one of Denzel Washington’s scenes and
Googled how to be an actor. Now she is “obsessed, obsessed, obsessed” with making a success of acting. In a chat with the i paper, she says: “I don’t really go at things half-heartedly. So I don’t want to be the best actor, but I want to be the best version of myself in this industry.”
Bukky also admits that playing Rocks “made me appreciate humanity a lot more. It made me be much more mindful”.
Normally the BAFTAs is where A-listers get to flaunt their frocks then shame themselves at backstage parties.
But it seems this year, emerging talent will actually be given a chance to shine. About time too.
Maybe they’ll be back as superstars next year and give us some wild and wonderful goss.
I don’t want to be the best actor, but the best version of myself
Contribution to Cinema Award last night, said: “My mum could not understand it!”