Sunday Mirror

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

Noel Clarke

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!”

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 ??  ?? TOO COOL FOR SCHOOL Bukky (main picture) and, inset, with some of her Rocks co-stars
TOO COOL FOR SCHOOL Bukky (main picture) and, inset, with some of her Rocks co-stars

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