Rakie Ayola on ‘overwhelming’ Bafta TV award win

·4-min read

Actress Rakie Ayola said her Bafta TV win was the embodiment of a dream she had had since she was eight-years-old.

Ayola won the supporting actress gong at the Bafta TV awards for her role as Gee Walker in BBC One’s Anthony, Jimmy McGovern’s drama about the life Anthony Walker might have had if he had still been alive.

The 18-year-old was murdered by two white men in an unprovoked racist attack in a Liverpool park in 2005.

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Speaking the day after her win, Ayola told the PA news agency: “It’s getting harder to process. I’ll be honest, I’m just getting more overwhelmed which is weird. Every time I see it now (the Bafta) I’m just staring at it like a mad thing.

“Because it’s the embodiment of a dream and so it’s quite weird that it’s actually happened. I really have wanted it to happen since I was eight-years-old.”

She said her gong was currently residing upstairs on her dressing table, but that it would find permanent pride of place in the kitchen.

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McGovern’s 90-minute film was inspired by conversations with Walker’s mother Gee and tells the story of the life he could have lived.

Cardiff-born actress Ayola, whose other TV credits include Holby City and Doctor Who, beat the likes of Helena Bonham Carter, Sophie Okonedo, Siena Kelly and Leila Farzad who were nominated in the same Bafta TV category this year.

Also recognised for her work was actress Michaela Coel, who was named winner of the leading actress gong for BBC series I May Destroy You, which also won the mini-series category.

Virgin Media BAFTA TV Awards 2021 – Arrivals – London
Michaela Coel at the Virgin Media Bafta TV awards in London (Ian West/PA)

Coel became the first person in Bafta history to win awards in the categories of leading actress, miniseries, writer and director, the latter two being handed out during last month’s Craft Awards.

During her speech while collecting her actress prize, Coel dedicated the award to the show’s intimacy co-ordinator Ita O’Brien, who said on Monday she was “utterly flabbergasted” at the mention.

She told PA: “The fact that it wasn’t even off the cuff, that she’d written that out with the intention of sharing that, I had no idea.

“She’s an absolutely incredible human being, it’s been an utter privilege to work with her and support in the creation of I May Destroy You … I was utterly blown away and I have such huge, huge gratitude and love for Michaela, just really, really amazing.”

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O’Brien has worked on titles including Normal People, The Pursuit Of Love, I Hate Suzie and more, and has led the way in championing intimacy-on-set guidelines across the industry.

During her speech, Coel said: “I know what it’s like to shoot without an intimacy director, the messy, embarrassing feeling for the crew, the internal devastation for the actor.

“Your direction was essential to my show. And I believe essential for every production company that wants to make work exploring themes of consent.”

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I May Destroy You is described in its official synopsis as a series which “explores the question of sexual consent in contemporary life and how, in our modern landscape of dating and relationships, we make the distinction between liberation and exploitation”.

The Bafta TV awards were handed out at Television Centre in west London in front of a live but socially distanced audience of nominees.

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