Fresh Faces

Monday, November 28, 2016

Most Promising Newcomer subgroup chair Andrew Braidford introduces us to this year’s most exciting new performers.

 

This year’s list of nominees represents an extremely strong and fascinating group of performances from actors who have not taken centre stage in a film before, and yet manage to mesmerize in a way that belies their limited experience. These performances are thought-provoking and special: not only do the actors induce a multilayered concoction of emotions with their skill and talent, they also induce a great deal excitement in the film industry as we look forward to the next generation of extraordinary British acting talent. Nothing shows this off better than the nominees’ additional nods: three of the five actors shortlisted in this category are also up for Best Actor or Best Actress awards, an unprecedented occurrence for both BIFA and most other awards ceremonies.

We in the Most Promising Newcomer subgroup are also particularly pleased with the diversity showcased in this year’s shortlist: amongst the five nominees we have three women, two black actors, an actor with Down’s syndrome, a teenager and a pentagenerian. This is the hopeful, talented, diverse future of British filmmaking. Helping BIFA champion, celebrate and develop this talent is one of the most important things we can do, and we’re very proud to do it.

 

Sennia Nanua – Melanie in The Girl with All the Gifts          

Photo from our Most Promising Newcomer dinner at the London EDITION Hotel. See full album here.

If the start of her career is anything to go by, Sennia Nanua has a long and successful path in filmmaking to look forward to. After starring in an award-winning short film, Sennia was cast in The Girl with All the Gifts, a part that’s earned her a BIFA nomination and ‘one to watch’ status.

Sennia plays Melanie, a second-generation ‘hungry’ (flesh-eating zombie), who is also a bright, inquisitive, imaginative and friendly young girl. Seemingly immune from the lack of free will that first-generation ‘hungries’ suffer, Melanie and her fellow child-hungries are studied and experimented on at a secret base in rural England. When the base falls, Melanie escapes along with her favourite teacher, Ms Justineau, and a group of others.  Against the backdrop of a blighted Britain, Melanie must discover what she is and ultimately decide both her own future and that of the human race. 

 

Hayley Squires – Katie in I, Daniel Blake 

Photo from our Most Promising Newcomer dinner at the London EDITION Hotel. See full album here.

Hayley Squires trained at Rose Bruford College, graduating in 2010. She is an actress and a playwright, and has been seen on TV in Call the Midwife, Southcliffe and Complicit. Her feature film debut was in Blood Cells, followed by a part in A Royal Night Out before her starring role in I, Daniel Blake. Her first play, Vera Vera Vera, was produced by the Royal Court Theatre in 2012.

In I, Daniel Blake, Squires plays Katie, a single mother with two children who’s forced to choose between a one-room hostel in London and a flat in a city she doesn’t know, some 300 miles away. During her journey she meets Daniel, a man who, following an illness, needs help from the state to get back on his feet. Daniel and Katie find themselves in no-man’s land, caught on the barbed-wire of welfare bureaucracy as played out against the rhetoric of ‘striver and skiver’ in modern-day Britain.

 

Dave Johns – Daniel in I, Daniel Blake 

Photo from our Most Promising Newcomer dinner at the London EDITION Hotel. See full album here.

Dave Johns is an English stand-up comedian, writer and actor. You may have seen him on TV on Never Mind the Buzzcocks, 8 Out of 10 Cats, Rob Brydon’s Annually Retentive and 28 Acts in 28 Minutes, and as God on Harry Hill. In 2009, Dave Johns and Owen O’Neill dramatised Stephen King’s Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption for the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin.

Johns plays the titular character in I, Daniel Blake, a man who has worked as a joiner most of his life in Newcastle. Now, for the first time ever, following an illness, he needs help from the State. He crosses paths with single mother Katie and her two young children, Daisy and Dylan. Katie’s only chance to escape a one-roomed homeless hostel in London is to accept a flat in a city she doesn’t know, some 300 miles away. Daniel and Katie find themselves in no-man’s land, caught on the barbed-wire of welfare bureaucracy as played out against the rhetoric of ‘striver and skiver’ in modern-day Britain.

 

Steve Brandon – Luke in My Feral Heart

Photo from our Most Promising Newcomer dinner at the London EDITION Hotel. See full album here.

My Feral Heart is Steven’s debut performance in a film. He was first discovered through a series of workshops at the Mushroom Theatre Company in Essex, undertaken by My Feral Heart director Jane Gull. Steven’s performance in the film has already garnered attention and praise from festivals and press around the world.

In the film, Brandon plays Luke, an independent young man with Down’s syndrome, forced to live in a care home after his elderly mother dies. He struggles to settle there, frustrated at having his wings clipped by its rules, and totally unimpressed by his new housemates. His disappointment with his new home soon turns to wonder when Luke discovers a way out and begins to explore the surrounding countryside. When he is caught sneaking out by Pete, a troubled youth who tends the gardens at the home, the two strike up an unlikely rapport: Pete covers for Luke when he sneaks out and, in return, Luke helps Pete clear the garden. It’s on one such illicit excursion to the adjoining field that Luke discovers a young injured girl in desperate need of his help…

 

Letitia Wright – Jamie in Urban Hymn

Letitia started her career in TV, playing Chantelle in Channel 4’s Top Boy and Vivienne Scott in Cucumber and Banana. She was selected as one of Screen International’s UK Stars of Tomorrow in 2012. Michael Caton-Jones, director of Urban Hymn, described Wright as ‘the most exciting young screen acting talent that I’ve had the pleasure of working with since Leonardo DiCaprio on This Boy’s Life’.

In Urban Hymn, Letitia plays Jamie, who is encouraged by her friends, especially best friend Leanne, into waywardness and trouble. However, when unconventional care worker Kate tries to get Jamie to use singing as a release from her troubled life, she discovers a talent and passion she never knew about – a talent and passion that could offer her a future, but also tear down her closest relationships. 

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