I offered to pick the tiny flies out of Stacey Dooley’s hair. She seemed genuinely pleased

·3-min read
Rakie Ayola wins Best Supporting Actress award for her role in Anthony (AP)
Rakie Ayola wins Best Supporting Actress award for her role in Anthony (AP)

Sunday morning, the usual menopausal sweat woke me at 5.59am. After a lukewarm (couldn’t quite do cold) shower I plucked three overnight whiskers from my chin and threw on some baggy linen clothes (the kind only ever worn by arty, mid-life women). I then got sweaty again as I gathered everything I planned to take with me to the Lancaster Hotel, including a big bag of food because I had no idea when I would get to eat.

Once at the hotel I was met by make-up artist Theresa and publicist Tim. I had two dresses with me. Both gorgeous, so I couldn’t decide. T and T voted unanimously for the Bora Aksu dusty pink, with hot pink Louboutin sandals and rose gold Boodles jewellery. As someone who usually only wears purple clothes (long story), wearing various shades of pink wasn’t too big a stretch. After a seriously relaxing facial from Theresa we had to get a bit of a spurt on because photographer Misan Harriman was waiting to do a mini shoot. We went to a mews opposite the hotel where a woman was sitting on her doorstep cleaning the rust off an oven shelf. Her labrador took a shine to us.

Despite the Covid restrictions, the red carpet had much more of a buzz than I expected. Billie Piper was just ahead of us. Sophie Okenedo joined behind. I’m a fan of both women. Sophie and I are contemporaries and we’ve bumped into each other a few times over the years. She told me she’d been really moved by my drama, Anthony. I told her I’d recently watched her being brilliant in Criminal UK. A sharing of mutual respect amid the chaos.

I moved on to an interview with Stacey Dooley, though I was distracted by the tiny flies trapped in her hair. At first I thought they were jewels, but no. I decided it was only right to let her know. There were no hair and make-up people allowed because of Covid so she seemed genuinely pleased that I offered to pick them out. Just after receiving the award, I walked off stage and my knees buckled. I crouched down so that people would think I was adjusting my shoes. I then burst into tears before posing for official pictures and doing what seemed like 10 interviews. I’m glad there was no after party. I was exhausted, so was relieved to be able to go straight home.

I woke up on Monday (soaking wet again) and my as yet unnamed Bafta was looking at me from the dressing table. I was shocked to see it was still there and hadn’t melted over night. It felt weird to see my childhood dream among the make-up and fake jewellery. From then on the day consisted of several interviews. Life got more surreal with each passing hour.

Tuesday. A live interview on BBC Morning Live. My second in six weeks. Gethin, Kym and the team are lovely so it’s all very easy. On Wednesday I started to respond to the tens of WhatsApp messages I’ve received since Sunday. After lunch I travelled into Central London to return the Duro Olowu dress that I loved but didn’t wear to the ceremony. It’s beautiful so I hope I can borrow it again. I spent all day Thursday workshopping a new project with actor/director Paul Brennan and actor Danny Sapani. At lunch, Young Vic artistic director, Kwame Kwei-Armah and actor Ashley Zhangazha came over to say congratulations. Kwame cracked me up by bowing at my feet. Like I said, this week is getting more and more surreal.

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