Sex Education’s Emma Mackey and Aimee Lou Wood are among the contenders to be named the next star of the future at the upcoming Bafta awards.
They have been nominated for the EE Rising Star Award alongside Naomi Ackie, who recently portrayed Whitney Houston in Sony’s musical biopic I Wanna Dance With Somebody, The Woman King’s Sheila Atim and Good Luck to You, Leo Grande’s Daryl McCormack.
The category is the only one at the Bafta film awards which is voted for by the public and previous winners include Lashana Lynch, Bukky Bakray, John Boyega, James McAvoy, Kristen Stewart and Tom Hardy.
Ackie previously won the Bafta for best supporting actress in 2020 for her role as Bonnie on the dark comedy-drama series The End Of The F***ing World and is also known for playing Jannah in 2019’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
The British actress, 31, has now gained critical acclaim for her portrayal of US singer Houston.
She told the PA news agency: “It’s incredible. I remember being younger and watching people get nominated when I was a kid and thinking: ‘Oh my gosh, maybe one day’.
“So to know it’s a time when I’m experiencing it is gorgeous. I’m just really grateful. To be honest, I feel like the job is done, it’s really just now to celebrate.”
Fellow nominee Mackey, 27, is perhaps best known for her Bafta-nominated leading role as Maeve Wiley in the Netflix series Sex Education, where she stars alongside Wood.
She has also tried her hand at period acting as she stars as the titular character in Emily, a new film re-imagining the life of Emily Bronte.
The actress, who also features in the upcoming Barbie movie opposite Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, said that she was also grateful for the nod.
“Being able to tell stories and make films is already such a blessing. To be nominated alongside these wonderful actors and for us all to be noticed by such a respected and inspiring institution is very humbling indeed”, she added.
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Also making the shortlist is her Sex Education co-star Wood, 27, who won a Bafta for best female comedy performance for her portrayal of Aimee Gibbs in the TV series.
Recently, she appeared in Oliver Hermanus’ latest drama film, Living, alongside Bill Nighy and Will Sharpe’s The Electrical Life Of Louis Wain.
Wood, who is about to start her run as Sally Bowles in Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club in London, said she was “thrilled” with the nomination.
She said: “I love how this special award draws attention to emerging talent and I’m always so excited to see who the nominees are when they’re announced.
“To be included this year is very surprising and a real pinch me moment. I feel extremely grateful and moved to be here amongst such wonderful people.”
Atim, who is also among the nominees, recently starred in the historical epic feature film The Woman King alongside Oscar-winner Viola Davis and previous Rising Star winners Lynch and Boyega.
In 2022, she made her debut in the Marvel cinematic universe appearing as Sara in Doctor Strange & The Multiverse of Madness alongside Benedict Cumberbatch and Elizabeth Olsen.
She has also created a considerable impact on the London theatre scene including winning an Olivier Award for best supporting actress in a musical for her performance as Marianne Laine in Girl From The North Country at the Old Vic Theatre.
The 32-year-old actress told PA that it felt “wonderful” to share her nomination with the “other brilliant” stars and because she feels the previous winners are “just incredible”.
She added: “I think it’s recently wonderful that the majority of nominees are women this time round. You work so hard and all those things like self-doubt and not knowing if you’re going in the right direction or if you’re going to make it, that can really hit women hard.
“Women and girls are told as well that your career is going to go in a very restricted path and it will probably end in your early 30s… and that’s starting to change now.”
McCormack rounds off the five-strong list after recently starring in the comedy-drama Good Luck To You, Leo Grande, opposite Emma Thompson.
He also previously featured in Peaky Blinders and will star in the upcoming thriller feature The Tutor alongside Richard E Grant and Julie Delpy.
Reflecting on the nomination, the 29-year-old Irish actor told PA: “It’s amazing. I moved to London five or six years ago and I also looked towards the Baftas.
“I always would remember when the Bafta weekend was on and seeing this category, in particular, was something exciting as it just showed the actors that are coming through and to be nominated feels very special.
“It feels like quite a full circle. I’m so grateful and honoured.”
Jane Millichip, chief executive at Bafta, said: “Recognising and supporting creative talent is of the upmost importance to us at Bafta which is why we are delighted to continue our partnership with EE and the EE Rising Star Award.
“This year’s five nominees have displayed a breathtaking ability to tell stories and create characters that resonate with their audiences, and it’s now up to the British public to decide who will take home the award on February 19.”
The five nominees were announced during a press conference at The Savoy Hotel in London on Tuesday.
The 2023 Baftas ceremony will be held at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall and broadcast on BBC One and BBC iPlayer on February 19.