The EE Rising Star Award is the one award at the BAFTAs voted on by the British public. The nominees, chosen by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, are chosen regardless of gender, nationality and career background, and have a pretty good track record in celebrating actors who go on to become Big Deals. The first winner of the award in 2006 was James McAvoy, with other winners including Tom Hardy, Kristen Stewart, Tom Holland and Daniel Kaluuya. This year’s nominees are a strong bunch in a year where the category could have been filled out several times over.
Jessie Buckley got her start in 2008 when she came second on the BBC talent show I’d Do Anything, where Andrew Lloyd Webber sought to cast an unknown talent to play Nancy in a new production of Oliver! She’s mostly stuck to stage work since, performing in A Little Night Music, The Tempest and The Winter’s Tale, but has also appeared in series such as The Woman in White and Taboo. Her big moment of 2018 came with the British thriller Beast.
Cynthia Erivo is another stage star, having won a Tony for The Color Purple. Last year, she lit up the screen in Widows and Bad Times at the El Royale. Soon, she will play Harriet Tubman in Kasi Lemmons’s historical biopic, set for release later this year.
Lakeith Stanfield made his feature debut in 2013 and has an impressive filmography but he certainly had a moment last year thanks to Sorry to Bother You, as well as the continuing success of Atlanta. He will soon appear in Rian Johnson’s Knives Out and the Safdie Brothers’s Uncut Gems, alongside Adam Sandler.
It’s easy to write this award off as a popularity contest, and it’s true that the bigger names tend to do better, but it does have the ability to surprise us once in a while. Everyone here would be deserving of the award but my money would go on Letitia Wright. Non-Brits have won it but we tend to stay local for the Rising Star.
Who would you vote for and, if you are British and plan to vote, who are you voting for?
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