What connects James McAvoy, Juno Temple, John Boyega and Jack O’Connell? Beyond the fact they’ve all got names beginning with ‘J’, the answer we’re fishing for is that each has been a recipient of the BAFTA Rising Star Award since it’s 2006 inauguration.
Intended the recognise the talents of new actors in the film industry, the Rising Star Award was first launched by BAFTA in the wake of former casting director Mary Selway’s death in 2004. There have been thirteen winners to date and each has gone on to greatness.
Last year, the public-voted gong was won by Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya, who seems to have been a lucky charm in the past year, having starred alongside more than one of the nominees.
But who are Letitia Wright, Jessie Buckley, Cynthia Erivo, Barry Keoghan and Lakeith Stanfield? With the vote opening soon, we’ve gathered an essential lowdown just for you…
Inspired to act after being impressed by Keke Palmer’s performance in Akeelah and the Bee, Wright shot to fame last year as Black Panther’s scene-stealing Shuri, T’Challa’s sister and the hilarious princess of Wakanda.
Though you may have caught Wright before 2018, in indie offerings like Urban Hymm and an episode of Doctor Who, it was last year that the young star from Guyana – who moved to the UK when she was seven and calls herself ‘a North London girl’ – was given the chance to show off her tremendous comic timing and inherent likability.
In 2018, Wright could also be seen in The Commuter and Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One. In fact, with the film’s she starred in earning a combined total of $1.55bn, Wright has been named the top earner of 2018. While she’s currently working on a film with Rihanna and Donald Glover, your next chance to catch Wright in action will be Avengers: Endgame.
Ireland’s Jessie Buckley first courted public attention when she appeared in the 2008 BBC television series I’d Do Anything, in which she competed for the part of Nancy in a new West End production of Oliver. In spite of a second-place finish, Buckley’s career has gone on to soar.
Graduating from The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 2013, Buckley followed a string of stage performances with a part in Rosamunde Pilcher’s four-part TV adaptation of her book Shades of Love. By 2016, she was heading up the BBC’s lavish production of War and Peace, before earning roles in Taboo, alongside Tom Hardy, The Last Post and The Woman in White.
It was in 2018, however, that film critics finally joined the Buckley parade, dishing out acclaim for her leading role in Michael Pearce film Beast. 2019 will bring the star parts in Rupert Goold’s upcoming Judy Garland biopic and a Cold War drama with Benedict Cumberbatch.
There’s something not quite right about calling the Tony, Emmy and Grammy award-winning Cynthia Erivo a Rising Star but the film industry can be a very hermetic entity and so we must.
Born to Nigerian parents in Stockwell, Erivo’s impressive theatre credentials include ‘The Colour Purple’, ‘Sister Act’ and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. On television, meanwhile, Erivo has featured in the likes of Chewing Gum, The Tunnel and Netflix’s Boss Baby spin-off.
Erivo finally hit the big screens last year, debuting in Steve McQueen’s Widows, before cementing her cinema star status in Bad Times at the El Royals. This year, you can catch her alongside Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley in Chaos Walking and, frankly, you don’t want to miss her.
In 2017, he blew us away in two of the year’s best films – The Killing of a Sacred Deer and Dunkirk – so quite why it has taken so long for Barry Keoghan to earn a nomination for Rising Star is beyond us. Catch up BAFTA!
An amateur boxer and Dublin boy, Keoghan’s career has been bubbling away nicely since 2011. He’s had roles in everything from ‘71 to Trespass Against Us and not yet put a foot wrong. In The Killing of a Sacred Deer, he outclassed seasoned stars Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman.
Continuing his move to the foreground, 2018 saw Keoghan lead Bart Layton’s critically acclaimed American Animals and support Hugo Weaving in Black ‘47. Catch him this year in Nick Rowland’s Calm With Horses.
Nationality is no barrier in BAFTA’s Rising Star category and so it is that American actor and rapper Lakeith Stanfield fills a well-earned place.
California born and bred, Stanfield was – until last year – perhaps best known for his role in Get Out, alongside 2018 Rising Star Daniel Kaluuya. You might also have caught him in Selma or as Snoop Dog in Straight Outta Compton.
2018 gave Stanfield a starring role of his own, however, when Boots Riley cast him in the bewildering but brilliant Sorry to Bother You. He also appeared in The Girl in the Spider’s Web and will this year star alongside Daniel Craig and Chris Evans in Rian Johnson film Knives Out.
Who would you pick as your Rising Star? Let us know in the comments!