In the make-up chair with… Naomi Ackie

naomi ackie baftas beauty
In the make-up chair with… Naomi AckieCharlotte Tilbury

“It means a lot to me,” the versatile Naomi Ackie tells us of her 2023 BAFTA EE Rising Star nomination. It’s Ackie’s role in the Whitney Houston biopic I Wanna Dance With Somebody that everyone’s talking about, but you’ll know the London-based actress for her powerful portrayals in the Netflix series Master of None and Steve McQueen’s British drama Small Axe, too. “I've been working for about 10 years and so much has happened in that time that I'm so grateful for. To get this nomination at this point in my career is huge and to join this amazing list of actors who are nominated is a dream.”

Ackie is speaking to us while getting glam for last night's BAFTAs in London. Dressed in white Loewe with a metallic peplum, her structural gown was mirrored with Cartier jewellery and a beauty look that was sleek and radiant. Does she enjoy the getting-ready part of a red-carpet experience? “I love it. I have the best glam squad and we just chat, have a laugh and make fun of each other – and at the end of the night they send me on my way feeling confident and happy.”

That’s not to say the actress finds the spectacle itself an easy-breezy one. “I tend to sway between excitement and anxiety,” she admits. “The best way I can describe a red carpet is like a circus, so you just try and take one interview at a time, take one photo at a time – and make sure that there's a glass of champagne at the other end to ease your nerves.”

One thing that stands her in good stead is diligent beauty prep, she shares. “I'm really big on getting lymphatic drainage massage the day of an event,” Ackie reveals. “I have many tools in my house now that also help me to de-puff, like using these great ice massagers and infrared masks”. And, “a good tan always helps!” she adds.

naomi ackie baftas beauty
Charlotte Tilbury

The inspiration for her make-up and hairstyle choices at special events “really depends on what I've just worked on,” she tells us. As is increasingly common among the A-list, Ackie often pays sartorial tribute to her work on the red carpet. “I am trying to infuse some of the inspirations I've had from some of the sets I've recently been on into my wardrobe and into my beauty looks and hair looks,” she says. “But the biggest inspiration is always the professionals who I work with: [stylist] Nicky Yates, [make-up artist] Kenneth Soh and [hair stylist] Kevin Fortune are so well versed in their craft, and I really trust them.”

naomi ackie
Gareth Cattermole/BAFTA - Getty Images

Ackie doesn't feel she owns a 'signature style'. "Not yet. I'm still exploring who I am as a woman, but I am having loads of fun learning new stuff and figuring out what feels good on me and what doesn't." Relatably, she adds that "learning what makes me feel the most authentic is an ongoing process".

For last night, "Kevin and I wanted to keep a classic and elegant feel to the hair," she says of the "natural texture with a modern twist to showcase the hair and dress from different angles". When it came to make-up, she collaborated with Soh on a "look all about polished and refined glamour". Her "glowing, naturally beautified skin with a sultry defined eye, a soft flush and a neutral toned lip" all came courtesy of Charlotte Tilbury make-up – the brand known for glamour and glow.

The chic smoky eye was achieved using the Rock & Kohl Eyeliner in Bedroom Black with the Instant Eye Palette in Smokey Eyes are Forever and Pillow Talk Push Up! Lashes Mascara. In addition to her home prep, Ackie's radiant complexion was enhanced by Charlotte’s Magic Cream, the Flawless Filter in shade 5, the Beautiful Skin Foundation and Beautiful Skin Sun Kissed Glow Bronzer in shade 3.

Colour on the lips and cheeks came courtesy of the brand's new Pillow Talk Matte Beauty Blush Wand in shade Dream Pop, and the Lip Cheat in shade Foxy Brown with a mixture of both the Look of Love Lipstick in Nude Romance and Matte Revolution Lipstick in Super Model.

Besides lippy touch-ups after that much-welcomed champagne, once Ackie leaves her glam team she maintains their work with a photo-finish essential. "It's blotting paper that I always forget, so tonight I'll carry Charlotte Tilbury’s Airbrush Flawless Finish Powder [in my purse] to instantly take away any unwanted shine."

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