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Naomi Ackie on BAFTA Rising Star: ‘it’s a celebration of how far we’ve come’

"It's gorgeous and I love the work of all these actors,' Ackie tells Rolling Stone UK ahead of this weekend's ceremony

By Nick Reilly

Naomi Ackie (Picture: Alamy)

As the world of film eagerly awaits the BAFTA Awards this weekend, London actress Naomi Ackie has opened up on her nomination in the EE Rising Star category.

Ackie, who memorably portrayed Whitney Houston in the recent biopic I Wanna Dance With Somebody, will go up against the likes of Sheila Atim, Aimee Lou Wood, Emma Mackey and Daryl McCormack in the category – which has previously been won by the likes of Daniel Kaluuya, Lashana Lynch and Tom Holland.

“It’s gorgeous and I love the work of all these actors” she told Rolling Stone UK of the honour.

“But me and Sheila [Atim] have worked together before, so when we got the nomination we texted each other and was like we’re gonna have the best time! It feels more like a celebration of how far we’ve all come as actors, as opposed to feeling like a competition. These are incredibly talented people, so if I’m considered to be part of that group then that’s a huge compliment to me too.”

But did Ackie ever envisage getting to such a prestigious point in her career?

“I did hope for this when I was younger, but I didn’t fully know the big picture. You think it’s going to be much more glamorous, but I love my daily life. I like that I’ve been able to mature to a place where yes this is the thing I dreamt of, but I enjoy the realities of it. I enjoy not working and I enjoy not working too.”

To that end, Ackie admits she’ll enjoy the BAFTAs on Sunday night, but says her focus remains on the projects ahead. She recently filmed Pussy Island alongside Channing Tatum, a thriller which marks Zoe Kravitz’ directorial debut.

“This job is so all-encompassing, so it’s easy to get lost. I keep on saying it, but it’s important for me to stay present. To just be like ‘OK this is a great time to celebrate this thing, but tomorrow I’m probably just going to hide in my house, go to the gym and chill’. I’m trying to find the balance between the two.”

It’s a philosophy she applied to playing Whitney Houston too. While Elvis star Austin Butler recently admitted he struggles to drop the voice of The King, Ackie says she’ll be moving straight on.

“The lessons I learnt about myself while making the film are what I’ll take away, but I am a big believer in moving on. The experience was amazing, but afterwards I was able to sit by myself in the quiet and reflect on the changes that have happened to me internally. They’re things I’m still investigating, but Whitney the character, no. I’m back to Nay now!”

The EE BAFTAs will take place on Sunday 19 February. You can watch the awards at home from 7pm-9pm on BBC One in the UK.