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BAFTA: Breakthrough Brits Daniel Lawrence and Paapa Essiedu

BAFTA: Breakthrough Brits Daniel Lawrence and Paapa Essiedu

Breakthrough Brits showcases and supports the next generation of creative talent in film, games and television in the UK. Each year, up to 20 talented newcomers are selected by a stellar industry Jury to take part in a year-long mentoring and guidance programme.

Successful Breakthrough Brits receive non-voting membership of BAFTA for a year, giving them free access to BAFTA events and screenings and to member’s space at 195 Piccadilly. In addition, BAFTA  support each Breakthrough Brit by working with them to provide a tailored year of support, mentoring and career development.


daniel lawrence bafta breakthough
Daniel Lawrence bafta breakthough

Daniel always saw himself playing dramatic roles, but comedy came knocking at university, when he found himself winning laughs in comic plays and sketch shows. After a great experience at the Edinburgh Festival he formed double act Ginger and Black with Eri Jackson, and started writing more comedy, including BAFTA-nominated scripted comedy series, Timewasters. He credits his family with giving him his sense of humour, and remembers growing up with a lot of well-natured teasing. He has named many of his characters after his siblings and says he’s always cheeky about representing them on screen, but never horrible!

Daniel is glad to see television starting to take diversity seriously and hopes the industry remains committed to it. He is particularly proud to be writing the kind of black characters rarely seen on television and hopes to inspire and provide opportunities for black actors. He also hopes that Timewasters is a showcase for what’s possible, even without an Oxbridge leg-up.

Daniel wants to keep acting and creating, and would love to continue writing for television as well as breaking into film. He hugely admires Michaela Coel and jokes it as his intention to become a great friend of hers, whether she likes it or not.


Paapa first got the acting bug playing a postman in his school’s production of the musical Me and My Girl. He claims it was a terrible performance – and is grateful camera phones hadn’t yet been invented – but he loved making people laugh and recalls how natural it felt being in front of an audience.

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The experience encouraged Paapa to join the National Youth Theatre, where he gained the confidence to turn down a coveted offer from UCL to study medicine, in favour of a place at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. While his training prepared him for the stage, and subsequent roles at the National Theatre and the RSC, he recalls turning up on his first TV set and waiting for someone to shout, ‘Lights, Camera, Action!’ After a string of breakthrough roles in series like PressThe Miniaturist and Kiri, Paapa is getting his head round shooting for the small screen, but his family still finds it surreal. He says his little cousins can’t understand how he can be on the TV ‘where all the famous people are supposed to be’.

As his career continues, Paapa hopes to continue learning from his fellow actors and taking on work that challenges the status quo. He’s also curious to explore writing and directing in the future. Image Paapi Essiedu


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