Bukky Bakray DAZED100 2020
Courtesy of Bukky Bakray
“I want to see people like me on screen, so I would make a beautiful short film and street-cast it

Bukky Bakray

Age - 17
 London, United Kingdom
@bukksbakray
Bukky Bakray
“I want to see people like me on screen, so I would make a beautiful short film and street-cast it

Bukky Bakray had never acted before when approached to star in Sarah Gavron’s coming-of-age film Rocks. Bakray, in fact, hadn’t planned for any of this. When the London-born, accidental movie star was scouted, she was at school – literally. “Sarah and the casting director would sit at the back of my drama and art classes, just observing how we interacted,” Bakray recalls. Workshops, auditions, and an official offer followed: Bakray’s depiction of title character Rocks is one of the most joyful and moving debuts in recent memory.

“I have always been a creative person,” Bakray says. “I loved drama but I never saw it as a tangible career. But when this opportunity came I started to eradicate any doubt in my mind.” Due to the workshopping process, Bakray spent months fleshing out and embodying Rocks; such is the naturalism of Bakray’s acting, you forget that Rocks is a fictional character.

“Acting is real life but in imaginary circumstances,” Bakray says. “At times, life can feel so limited and dull, but with acting it’s like you enter all these different worlds.” As for her influences, Bakray names Tom Moutchi, Damson Idris, Daniel Kaluuya, and Letitia Wright. If Rocks is any indication, a similar career trajectory surely awaits. “I promised myself when moving forward in the industry to always be true to myself,” Bakray says, “and to be unapologetically me.”

What issues or causes are you passionate about and why?

Bukky Bakray: I am passionate about representation and intersectional feminism because they helped me discover who I am and who I want to be. Representation is important and there’s not enough of it. People may not think it’s a big deal that in primary school all we read about was Biff and Chip, or that plasters are beige but called ‘skin colour’, or that typing ‘beautiful portrait of a woman’ on Google only produces one type of woman. But these things are so destructive to the mind and the way we think. I never used to call myself an intersectional feminist, but after reading bell hooks, who was never mentioned once in feminism debates in school, I proudly call myself one.

“At times, life can feel so limited and dull, but with acting it’s like you enter all these different worlds” - Bukky Bakray 

How would you like to influence the future? 

Bukky Bakray: I would like to be an example of what ‘choice’ looks like, and what it means to have the ability to choose where your life goes. I remember being much younger, I would watch my mum work an 8-8 and I would dream of having a 9-5 because it seemed like those people who did weren’t tired all the time and they didn’t have to worry about certain things. Then the opportunity for Rocks came along, it felt like I had a chance. I watched these incredible women filmmakers make a living and have fun and be healthy at the same time. I made the effort in auditions and every time I got a call back I felt more in control. Feeling like you are in control of your own life is a powerful thing. I wish more people could share in that feeling.

What creative or philanthropic project would you work on with a grant from the Dazed 100 Ideas Fund?

Bukky Bakray: I would make a beautiful short film and focus on my protagonists rather than having a massive subject matter or theme. I would like to see people like me on screen living their lives, and being unapologetic, charismatic and real. I would street-cast in a similar way to Rocks, and make sure the people involved are amazing people who have a passion for film. I would host a screening for creatives from all walks of life and also young creatives so they can network and have an opportunity to speak to like-minded people. I’m inspired by filmmakers like Barry Jenkins and Wong Kar-wai; they make the most beautiful cinema and they don’t miss a single detail.

Nick Chen

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