The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) is expanding its ‘Breakthrough’ program for emerging talent across film, TV and games to the U.S., India and China.
Known in the U.K. as ‘Breakthrough Brits,’ the successful talent initiative has been in place since 2013 and has championed 110 creatives domestically, with recent alumni including “Misbehaviour” and “Wild Rose” star Jessie Buckley, “Gangs of London” actor Paapa Essiedu, “Black Panther’s” Letitia Wright and “Little Women’s” Florence Pugh, reality television producer Coco Jackson, composer Segun Akinola, game producer Dan Gray, and directors Rose Glass, Stella Corradi, Destiny Ekaragha and Michael Pearce.
BAFTA’s ‘Breakthrough’ — the first global talent initiative to span film, TV and games, according to BAFTA — will now expand into the U.S. as well as India and China. Streaming giant Netflix is the program’s official partner for the U.K. for a second consecutive year, and will also support the U.S. and India launches.
Applications open Wednesday for U.K. and U.S. applicants, with submissions set to open later in the year for China and India.
BAFTA ‘Breakthrough’ selects talent through a cross-industry jury of industry professionals. Successful applicants will receive one-to-one mentoring and career guidance, access to BAFTA events and networking opportunities in the U.K. and internationally. This year, given the conditions brought about by COVID-19, BAFTA has said it will provide digital networking opportunities.
Recent supporters of the initiative include actors Olivia Colman and Zawe Ashton, actor-producer Brad Pitt, directors Tom Harper, Barry Jenkins and Asif Kapadia, game designers Brenda Romero and Tim Schafer, actor-writers Sharon Horgan and Amy Schumer, and writer-director Amma Asante.
To mark the first global launch of a BAFTA initiative and encourage cross-cultural connections and collaboration, all ‘Breakthrough’ participants will be showcased together in 2021.
“Wild Rose’s” Buckley called BAFTA Breakthrough “a family that I will be forever grateful for.”
“It offers a really unique chance to be part of a conversation with a group of the most inspiring creatives, all of whom are at a similar point in their careers and are curious about what might be possible,” said Buckley. “It makes you feel not only supported, excited and emboldened by each other but also by the people who you look up to and are inspired by within the industry. It a gorgeous thing and I have made lifelong friends.”
Essiedu, actor and ‘Breakthrough’ in 2018, known for TV roles in “Kiri” and “Press,” added: “Breakthrough was such an important moment of recognition for me. The program gave me access to a group of truly inspiring people who I can still call on for advice today. Couldn’t recommend it more highly.”
Amanda Berry, chief executive of BAFTA, said: “We are incredibly proud to be launching BAFTA ‘Breakthrough’ globally, the only initiative of its kind that works across film, games and television. I’m excited to see who will join the global breakthrough family this year, at a time when our international community is more important than ever. We’re also delighted to be working alongside Netflix for the second year to continue to grow a truly international network for emerging talent, filled with diverse voices and stories.”
Matthew Wiseman, CEO of BAFTA Los Angeles, added: “Continuing BAFTA’s integral work to support emerging talents and encourage cross-cultural collaboration is now as crucial as ever. It’s exciting to be bringing ‘Breakthrough’ to new global communities, and create ways for people around the world to connect with one another in a meaningful way. We’re delighted applications are now open in the U.S. and can’t wait to see who will be discovered as the first ‘Breakthrough’ U.S. participants.”