Bukky Bakray won the EE Rising Star Award at the Baftas on Sunday for her debut role in 2019’s coming-of-age film Rocks. The Hackney-based 19-year-old beat out Sope Dirisu, Conrad Khan, Kingsley Ben-Adir and Morfydd Clark to win the award, which is voted for by the public.
During her acceptance speech, Bakray was visibly shocked, and paid tribute to stars who have died in the past 12 months, including US rapper DMX. “Sleep well to everyone else who died last year and this year, who went to bed indefinitely,” she said.
“I truly believe it is the love and the light that you have left on this universe which is holding us all today.”
Rocks, the story of a teenage girl who struggles to take care of herself and her younger brother after being abandoned by their single mother, was made almost exclusively with non-professional actors by director Sarah Gavron. The Independent’s film critic Clarisse Loughrey called it “the most authentic film about British teens in years”, while many other publications gave it rave reviews.
Bakray told Digital Spy that she didn’t expect Rocks to be such a success, saying: “When we filmed Rocks, I thought 100 people would watch the film, maximum. I didn’t think it would have this reach.”
She added: “All the nominees from previous years and people who have gone on to win, they all have astonishing careers that I look up to. Actors like Daniel Kaluuya, LaKeith Stanfield who was nominated, Micheal Ward, James McAvoy.
“I felt blessed to be nominated and now to have won the award, I can’t believe I’m saying that.”
It was premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival and was released in the United Kingdom on 18 September 2020. The film was nominated in seven categories at the 74th Bafta awards, including Best Casting and Best British Film.
Bakray has upcoming roles in the film Self-Charm and the BBC One series You Don’t Know Me.