Noel Clarke dedicates BAFTA Award to the 'underrepresented' in passionate speech

·2-min read

Actor/director Noel Clarke dedicated his honorary Outstanding British Contribution To Cinema BAFTA award to the "underrepresented" in a passionate and moving speech on Saturday night.

The Kidulthood filmmaker and the brains behind hit British TV series Bulletproof was the only winner to pick up the trophy in person during the Opening Night segment of the 2021 BAFTAs, which continues on Sunday.

As he took to the stage, he referenced the now infamous moment he "bounced off my chair and popped my collar" as he was named winner of the BAFTA Rising Star award back in 2009.

"For years I never really understood why I did that. I couldn't articulate it," he explained. "People have told me how arrogant it was, and that I shouldn't have done it, and I've always said to myself, 'If I ever got back on this stage again, I'd apologise for it'. I'm not going to do that. Recently I realised why I did it, I felt vindicated - I won something that at the time, someone like me was never supposed to. Something I'd been told that I couldn't.

"My journey in this business has been a battle at time, and as I stand here right now I know that a lot of the work I've done is not BAFTA worthy. I think this is about the journey. It is about the times maybe it was worthy and wasn't recognised. I stand on the shoulders of giants - I'm not here without the people before me. I hope people see that I've tried to illicit change in the industry.

"So this is for the underrepresented. Anyone who sits at home believing that they can achieve more. This is particularly for my young black boys and girls out there who never believed that this could happen to them. I'm just, I'm so, so thankful for this."

Clarke concluded his speech by telling viewers that while he ended his 2009 speech with the words "Yes we can", the same is true today - although it's slightly "tougher".

"So I wanted to end this one a little bit different," he explained. "Sometimes you'll feel like it's not achievable. It is. Sometimes you'll feel like you're not good enough. You are. Sometimes you'll feel like you don't deserve it. You do."

BBC Radio 1 DJ Clara Amfo presented the awards on Saturday evening from London's Royal Albert Hall, with a panel of guests including film critic Rhianna Dhillon and actress and former BAFTA nominee, Joanna Scanlan.

The remainder of the winners will be announced on Sunday night.