Bafta Film Awards 2021: Praise for Noel Clarke's 'inspiring' acceptance speech

Tom Beasley
·Contributor
·3-min read
Noel Clarke attends a dinner in celebration of the BAFTA Breakthrough Brits on December 9, 2019. (Photo by David M. Benett/Getty Images for Netflix)
Noel Clarke attends a dinner in celebration of the BAFTA Breakthrough Brits on December 9, 2019. (Photo by David M. Benett/Getty Images for Netflix)

Noel Clarke has been praised for his "inspiring" speech dedicated to under-represented voices within the film industry at Saturday night's Bafta Film Awards.

Clarke, who is best known for movies including Kidulthood, was honoured at the ceremony with the Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema award.

Read more: Full list of Bafta Film Award winners 2021

The 45-year-old star made reference in his speech to popping his collar when he accepted the EE Rising Star Award at the ceremony in 2009.

He said he was told the gesture was arrogant and that, although he had previously vowed to apologise if he ever got the chance, he now felt differently.

Clarke said: "Recently I realised why I did it. I felt vindicated. I had won something that, at the time, someone like me was never supposed to. Something that I had been told I couldn't."

Watch: Noel Clarke discusses Brotherhood

He added: "My journey in this business has been a battle at times. And as I stand here right now, I know a lot of the work I have done is not Bafta-worthy, but I think this is about the journey. It's about the times maybe it was worthy and not recognised."

Clarke added that he has "tried to illicit change in the industry" through his career, which has encapsulated writing, directing and producing as well as acting.

He formed production company Unstoppable Entertainment in 2007, which has subsequently produced movies including 4,3,2,1 and The Fight.

Read more: Clarke on Fisherman's Friends poster snub

Continuing his speech, Clarke said: "This is for the under-represented — anyone who sits at home believing that they can achieve more.

"This is particularly for my young Black boys and girls out there who never believed that this could happen to them."

Noel Clarke completed his 'Hood' trilogy in 2016 with 'Brotherhood'. (Credit: Lionsgate)
Noel Clarke completed his 'Hood' trilogy in 2016 with 'Brotherhood'. (Credit: Lionsgate)

He added: "Years ago, I ended with the words 'yes we can'. And we still can, it's just tough. 

"So I wanted to end this one a little bit different. Sometimes you'll feel like it's not achievable. It is. 

"Sometimes you'll feel like you're not good enough. You are. Sometimes you'll feel like you don't deserve it. You do."

Fans celebrated Clarke's candid, open speech on social media, saying it had reduced them to tears and that he was an "inspiring" figure. 

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Bafta announced eight other awards on the first night of its 2021 ceremony, announcing two wins for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, as well as victories for Tenet, Sound of Metal and Rocks.

Clara Amfo presented the first night of the Baftas with actor Joanna Scanlan and critic Rhianna Dhillon.

Edith Bowman and Dermot O’Leary are due to present Sunday night's event, which will hand out the remainder of the awards.

Watch: Bafta pays tribute to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh