Netflix Partners on BAFTA’s Breakthrough Brits; Initiative Expands Internationally

Netflix has signed on as a partner on BAFTA’s Breakthrough Brits, the program that supports up-and-coming U.K. talent.

BAFTA said the partnership with the streaming giant will help facilitate expansion of its “Breakthrough” initiative globally, and the partners will work to identify overseas talent in new territories. This year’s scheme is open to Brits residing in the U.K. and the U.S. In the future, the intention is to widen the list of qualifying countries, and possibly to broaden the whole program to go beyond just talented Brits, a BAFTA spokesman told Variety.

Netflix is deepening its roots in the U.K. amid talk that the company is looking for permanent studio space as it increases the number of its British-originated shows. Netflix is taking over from fashion brand Burberry as BAFTA’s main partner on Breakthrough Brits, which was started in 2013.

The roster of Breakthrough Brits has included BAFTA Award winners Molly Windsor and Daisy May Cooper in recent years, as well as the likes of Letitia Wright, who credited BAFTA with restoring her faith in acting during a tough time. “A few years ago I saw myself in a deep state of depression and I literally wanted to quit acting,” Wright said as the Netflix partnership was unveiled. “The only thing that pulled me out of that was God, my belief, my faith, my family, and an email from BAFTA saying that they wanted me to be a part of the BAFTA Breakthrough Brits.”

Last year’s 19 Breakthrough Brits included actors Jessica Barden and Paapa Essiedu and writer and director Lucy Cohen.

Amid the controversy over release windows and Netflix’s role in the film business, there have been tensions between the streamer and British theater chains, with a knock-on effect on BAFTA. Cineworld pulled its support for BAFTA last year, citing concerns over eligibility requirements for BAFTA’s prestigious Film Awards, which included prizes for “Roma.”

“We’re proud to support the Breakthrough initiative, helping it to expand around the world and identify new talent,” said Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at Netflix. “Developing new, more diverse voices is crucial for the future success of our industry, and we’re excited to work with BAFTA to create career-changing opportunities for people from all backgrounds.”

“We are excited to partner with Netflix, who share BAFTA’s vision to celebrate and provide opportunities for emerging talent, and look forward to working together to realize our ambitions for Breakthrough both in the U.K. and internationally,” added BAFTA chief executive Amanda Berry. “Expanding Breakthrough globally will enable creative and cultural exchange and form an international community of talented newcomers who will benefit from bespoke and unique support.”

The Breakthrough Brits program covers film as well as TV and games. Applications for this year’s scheme close June 12.

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