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Rakie Ayola to be honoured with prestigious Siân Phillips Award at forthcoming BAFTA Cymru Awards

4 September 2023
©Ejatu Shaw, 2022
  • The Siân Phillips Award is one of BAFTA Cymru’s highest accolades, presented to a Welsh individual who has made significant contributions to film and/or television
  • The BAFTA Cymru Awards 2023 will take place at a new venue: the ICC Wales in Newport on Sunday 15 October
  • The BAFTA Cymru Awards nominations for 2023 will be announced on 6 September

BAFTA Cymru today announces beloved Welsh actress Rakie Ayola as the recipient of this year’s prestigious Siân Phillips Award. One of BAFTA Cymru’s highest honours, the Siân Phillips Award is presented to a Welsh individual who has made significant contributions to film and/or television.

Rakie Ayola’s extensive acting and producing credits span an impressive spectrum of roles in film, theatre, and television over three decades and counting, working with some of the UK’s finest writers, directors, and creatives.

One of the UK’s most respected actors working today, Ayola has also been a passionate and long-standing advocate for widening the diversity and representation of talent on-and-off screen, as well as championing complex and thought-provoking stories and characters.

Recent highlights include playing DS Holland and later social worker Christine Rees in the BBC One television series The Pact (2021 – present) for which Ayola also executive produced; portraying Gee Walker in the BBC film Anthony (2020), for which Ayola won Best Supporting Actress at the 2021 BAFTA Television Awards; ITV television drama Grace (2021) as ACC Alison Vosper; Amazon’s spy thriller television series Alex Rider (2021 – second season); Channel 4’s BAFTA-winning police-comedy drama No Offence (2015) in the leading role of matriarch Nora Attah; BBC One’s adaptation of Malorie Blackman’s Noughts & Crosses (2021) as Prime Minister Opal Folami; and Netflix film Been So Long (2018) opposite Michaela Coel and George McKay written by Che Walker.

Rakie Ayola said: "It's taken me a long time to respond to this news. In fact, the reality of it still hasn't kicked in. Diolch yn fawr iawn BAFTA Cymru for choosing to make me this year's recipient of the Sian Phillips Award. Legacy is vitally important to me, so I'm hugely honoured to join the list of those who've been recognised in the past and hope I can use this incredible platform to work with and encourage others whose names may be added in the future."

Growing up in in Ely, Cardiff where she attended Windsor Clive Primary School and Glan Ely Comprehensive, Ayola decided aged eight that she wanted to be an actress after watching Barbra Streisand in Hello Dolly on BBC1 and has remained a Streisand fan ever since.

During Ayola’s comprehensive school years, she was a keen member of Orbit Youth Theatre, South Glamorgan Youth Theatre, South Glamorgan Youth Choir and (thanks to a grant from South Glamorgan Education Authority) the National Youth Theatre of Wales.

When offered an unconditional place at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Ayola dropped out of school (months before sitting her A-levels in English, Music, and French), and with her 5 O-levels and a full grant from the LEA, began a 3 year Acting Diploma.

Also known for her outstanding on-stage performances, Ayola’s award-winning theatre credits also span multiple decades. She is an honorary fellow of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, where earlier this year she helped judge their new Shakespeare Prize alongside Sir Ian McKellen.

Rebecca Hardy, Interim Head of BAFTA Cymru said: “Rakie is an incredible talent who inspires, drives, and enriches the industry here in Wales and beyond. Dedicated to her craft, she delivers empathetic and connected performances, demonstrating not only her acting ability, but compassion and understanding of social and political issues that as viewers we can take so much from. As a sought-after creative force, she is also so very proud of her country, and flies the flag for Wales during every step of her journey. BAFTA Cymru is delighted to present Rakie with the Siân Phillips Award – we look forward to celebrating her varied and impressive career next month at the BAFTA Cymru Awards.”

The Siân Phillips Award will be presented to Rakie Ayola in a special presentation of her work at the BAFTA Cymru Awards on 15 October. The ceremony will take place at the International Convention Centre Wales (ICC Wales) in Newport for the first time and will be available to watch live on BAFTA’s YouTube channel.

The BAFTA Cymru Awards 2023 nominations will be announced later this week on Wednesday 6 September at 08:00 (GMT).


Notes to Editors

For all media enquiries regarding the nominations and the ceremony please contact: Nia Medi (Medi Public Relations)

E: [email protected]

T: 07706860925

A selection of imagery is available via BAFTA’s Thirdlight website here.


BAFTA – the British Academy of Film and Television Arts - 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 more, visit BAFTA is a registered charity (no. 216726).

In Wales, BAFTA’s charitable mission supports creative communities across the country by highlighting the breadth and success of the production industry, identifying and supporting the next generation of talent, and bringing the very best work in Welsh film, games and television to public attention globally. The highlight of BAFTA’s events calendar in Wales is the annual BAFTA Cymru Awards, an independent platform showcasing the work that truly reflects the best of the country across film and television, making a difference to those producing creative work as well as those watching it. Find out more at