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BAFTA launches Breakthrough talent initiative in China

21 June 2019

In partnership with Yu Holdings, ‘BAFTA Breakthrough China’ will showcase and support emerging stars of film, games and television

Recommendations are invited from industry professionals

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), in partnership with Yu Holdings, has launched a new initiative that will celebrate and support China’s future stars of film, games and television and bring them to international attention.

Amanda Berry OBE, Chief Executive of BAFTA, announced the ‘BAFTA Breakthrough China’ initiative today at the Shanghai International Film Festival, alongside British actor Tom Hiddleston and Wendy Yu, Founder and CEO of Yu Holdings. BAFTA is a global identifier and supporter of new talent. Tom Hiddleston is an Ambassador for BAFTA Breakthrough China.

A jury of Chinese and British industry experts will select five ‘Breakthrough’ talents from across China to take part in the year-long mentoring and guidance programme. Their names will be announced at an exclusive event at The Peninsula Shanghai in October, with The Peninsula Hotels, the Official Hotel. The winners will then be flown to the UK to be introduced to British creatives and share their knowledge and experiences with their British peers.

BAFTA is inviting Chinese industry professionals to recommend potential candidates, who will then be invited to submit an application, at Potential candidates may be a director, writer, producer, actor or game developer, with a demonstrable ambition to work with UK talent, or to produce content for global audiences. The deadline for industry recommendations is Monday 12 August. The deadline for applications from individual candidates is Friday 16 August.

BAFTA Breakthrough China is the first international version of the highly successful Breakthrough Brits initiative, which has been running since 2013 and has brought over 100 emerging British talent to global attention. Previous Breakthrough Brits include actors Letitia Wright (Black Panther and Black Mirror) and Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Homecoming) and games producer Dan Gray (Monument Valley). Over forty percent of Breakthrough Brits have gone on to become BAFTA winners or nominees at the prestigious Film, Games or Television awards ceremonies.

BAFTA’s Breakthrough Brits, who are selected by a jury of leading industry professionals, receive one-to-one mentoring and career guidance, access to BAFTA events and networking opportunities in the UK and internationally. Supporters of the initiative in recent years include actors Oliva Colman and Tilda Swinton, actor-producer Brad Pitt, directors Tom Harper and Barry Jenkins, game designers Brenda Romero and Tim Schafer, and actor-writers Sharon Horgan and Amy Schumer. BAFTA will offer similar opportunities through Breakthrough China, with access to British, Chinese and international industry figures.

Amanda Berry OBE, Chief Executive of BAFTA said: “We are delighted to be announcing BAFTA Breakthrough China, the first time BAFTA’s flagship new talent initiative has taken place outside of the UK. BAFTA Breakthrough China will identify and support talented newcomers, bring together passionate and creative people and encourage closer collaboration and cultural exchange between the Chinese and UK industries, for our mutual benefit.

“Over the years we have gained a greater understanding and appreciation of the Chinese creative industries, but we recognise that we still have a lot to learn about new talent in China, so we are reaching out to members of the Chinese film, games and television industries to help us by recommending talented individuals and encouraging them to apply.”

British actor and BAFTA Breakthrough China Ambassador Tom Hiddleston said: “Initiatives like BAFTA Breakthrough China are instrumental in helping to strengthen the careers of exciting new talent, and to promote them on a global scale. I have seen first-hand all the fantastic ways in which BAFTA supports Breakthrough British talent, and it’s wonderful that they will now be doing the same in China. There is so much creativity and craftsmanship in China: I’m excited to see who the winners will be.”

Wendy Yu, Founder and CEO of Yu Holdings, said: “Nurturing China’s talent of tomorrow across the Arts continues to be a key driver for Yu Holdings as we look to foster creativity and contribute towards the growth of a wider eco-system. Through our partnerships, we strive to provide opportunity for acceleration as well as creative-cultural exchange - we are thrilled to be working with BAFTA on Breakthrough China, the first initiative of its kind, which we know will help propel the careers of our rising stars.”

BAFTA Breakthrough China is in partnership with Yu Holdings and supported by Official Partners - The Peninsula Hotels and Champagne Taittinger.

Notes to Editors:

In May 2019 BAFTA announced Netflix as the main supporting partner for BAFTA Breakthrough Brits. Burberry were the previous main supporting partner for Breakthrough Brits from 2013 – 2018. 

TOM HOLLAND was named a BAFTA Breakthrough Brit in 2013 for his starring role in The Impossible alongside Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor. In 2016 he starred as Spider-Man in Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War, before taking the lead role in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Tom has made overwhelming progress with his career and in 2017 won the EE Rising Star Award at the BAFTA Film Awards.

Tom Holland was supported during the 12-month Breakthrough programme by BAFTA-winning film producer David Heyman (Harry Potter franchise, Paddington, Gravity) and actor Cillian Murphy (28 Days Later, Peaky Blinders, Dunkirk, Batman Begins).

LETITIA WRIGHT was named a BAFTA Breakthrough Brit in 2015, following successful roles on British television. Since then she has gained worldwide attention for her role as Shuri in Marvel’s ground-breaking film Black Panther. She reprised her role in Avengers: Infinity War. In 2017, Leitia starred in Netflix’s Black Mirror for which she was nominated for an Emmy Award and in 2019 Letitia won the EE Rising Star Award at the BAFTA Film Awards.

Letitia was supported during the 12-month Breakthrough programme by BAFTA-winning actress Olivia Colman (The Favourite, The Night Manager) and BAFTA-nominated actress Naomie Harris (Moonlight, Skyfall, Spectre).

DAN GRAY was named a BAFTA Breakthrough Brit in 2014. He began his career in games at Lionhead Studios, working on the acclaimed Fable II and Fable III. At games studio Ustwo Games he produced the innovative mobile game Monument Valley, which won an Apple Design Award and was named Best British Game and Best Mobile & Handheld Game at the BAFTA Games Awards in 2015. The game also featured prominently in the third series of the popular US television show House of Cards. Monument Valley 2 was released in 2017 and took more than $10 million in its first year, with China accounting for 62% of sales.

Dan Gray was supported as part of the 12-month Breakthrough programme by Andy Payne OBE, respected games professional and Chair of Ukie, the British games industry trade body.

For further information, please contact:


Grace Li at CatchOn

T: +86 021 6227 0575

E: [email protected]


Sophie Dudhill / Press Officer

T: 020 7292 5863

E: [email protected]


The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) is a world-leading independent arts charity that brings the very best work in film, games and television to public attention and supports the growth of creative talent in the UK and internationally. Through its Awards ceremonies and year-round programme of learning events and initiatives – which includes workshops, masterclasses, scholarships, lectures and mentoring schemes in the UK, USA and Asia – BAFTA identifies and celebrates excellence, discovers, inspires and nurtures new talent, and enables learning and creative collaboration. For advice and inspiration from the best creative minds in working in film, games and television, visit For more, visit

About BAFTA in Asia

Since 2013, BAFTA has worked with partners in mainland China and Hong Kong to deliver masterclasses and international scholarships and engaging world-renowned, award-winning filmmakers, actors and craftspeople to take part, including Johnnie To, Zhang Yimou, Tony Ching, Hugh Bonneville, Lois Burwell, Naomi Donne, Lindy Hemming, Duncan Kenworthy and Eddie Redmayne. Building on these events and initiatives, the newly launched BAFTA Breakthrough China promotes a spirit of open, creative collaboration between the UK and China and encourages cross-cultural exchange.

Yu Holdings

Yu Holdings is a multi-faceted organisation, created to unite and align investment with innovation, cultural and creative exchange.

Founded in 2017 by investor, entrepreneur and philanthropist, Wendy Yu, the mission is to strengthen the ties between China and the rest of the world through business, technology, fashion and the Arts. Headquartered in Shanghai, Yu Holdings’s activities are conducted through dedicated entities: Yu Capital, Yu Fashion and Yu Culture. Yu Capital is the investment-funding arm for the financing of fashion, lifestyle and technology companies that show high potential for growth in a global market, particularly China. The company’s most recent investments include Samantha Cameron’s womenswear label Cefinn and British fashion brands Mary Katrantzou, Tujia (Airbnb’s Chinese rival) and Didi Kuaidi (the largest taxi-hailing firm in China). Yu Fashion provides international brands and talents with trusted strategic advisory to facilitate entry and expansion into China. Yu Culture exists to enrich the cultural landscape through the development of philanthropical initiatives. Together these act as a dynamic eco-system, bridging industries and continents, in the provision of a gateway to China.