Despite only acting professionally for the best part of four years, 27-year-old French-British actor Emma Mackey already boasts a glittering CV that includes the hit Netflix series Sex Education, Greta Gerwig's much-anticipated film Barbie and last year's critically-acclaimed Emily Brontë biopic, Emily. It's enough to make any Hollywood film star green with envy – but they had better prepare for her to join their ranks, for last night the actor was crowned 2023's BAFTA EE Rising Star, one of the most prestigious awards in showbiz and a sure-fire predictor of the industry's next big 'thing'.
Speaking exclusively with ELLE UK on the morning after her win, it seems Mackey is already enjoying every second. 'I'm feeling good and very happy,' she tells us. 'I've been talking to my family and friends and thanking everyone, and just soaking up their love. It's been so nice.'
Mackey was nominated for the Rising Star Award alongside fellow up-and-coming talents Daryl McCormack, Sheila Atim, Naomi Ackie and her Sex Education co-star Aimee Lou Wood. 'She's one of my best friends in the whole world,' she says of Wood. 'We've grown up together and spent a large part of our twenties together, so it felt really special to be in the same category. It's just rare, isn't it? And a lovely bonus. We were chuffed.'
Indeed, when Mackey was announced as the award winner, Wood visibly teared up with pride and mouthed 'love you' to the star. Mackey, too, gave her a shout-out in her acceptance speech. Friendship goals, if ever we saw them!
Dressed in a black, subtly shimmery Saint Laurent gown that made her feel 'confident and elegant' – 'that's rare for me!' she laughs – Mackey looked stunned as her name was called and confessed she hadn't prepared a speech. 'All I could think about was that long walk up to the stage and all the stairs,' she admits. 'I was shaking. I couldn't feel my arms. That walk just seemed interminable. But it's fine! It's over now.'
As for the celebrations, in typical Mackey style, she kept things relatively low-key. 'I went to some of the BAFTA parties, had a few drinks, saw some of my best friends and had a little boogie,' she reveals. 'I was mostly with Aimee [Lou Wood], Ncuti [Gatwa] and Asa [Butterfield]. We had a nice old time.'
Her favourite memory from the evening, however – besides the Award – was being congratulated by two icons of the industry: Cate Blanchett and Colin Farrell. 'They came up to congratulate me which was amazing as I look up to them vey much,' says Mackey. 'It was a big highlight, not because I was starstruck but because they're people I greatly admire who are so great at what they do.'
Despite it all, Mackey remains one of the most refreshingly down-to-earth actors around – and that's not something this award is set to change. Rather than spending the next week basking in the post-Rising Star spotlight, she's already en route to her family home in France when we speak to her, with her award 'wrapped up in two jumpers' within her suitcase.
'I need a bit of breathing space,' she says. 'I don't really have a plan. I'm going to have a week off – sleep, read, go on lots of walks, and cook. I haven't spent time in my kitchen for a month so I can't wait to cook again.' What's on the menu. 'Soup,' she laughs. 'I know that sounds very boring, but I'm just so excited to make lots and lots of broth.'
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