Rakie Ayola wants to ‘wave the flag’ for Ely with Bafta Cymru win after e-bike deaths

"It’s really important to me that people know that I am from Ely" Credit: PA

Welsh actress Rakie Ayola wants to “wave the flag” for her home district of Ely in Cardiff when she is honoured with one of Bafta Cymru’s highest honours.

The TV and stage star, who has appeared in shows like Black Mirror, Noughts + Crosses, Doctor Who and The Pact, will be given the Sian Phillips Award next month.

The prize is presented to a Welsh individual who has made significant contributions to film and/or television.

Ayola says where she comes from is very important to her, adding: “You won’t have to look very far to see the last time that Ely was talked about in the press and it was a tragic, tragic event which happened very close to where I grew up.

“So I want to wave the flag for that area of Cardiff because good people live there and awful things can happen to good people and wonderful things can happen to people from Ely.

“I can’t think of a poetic way to say that but I just… it’s really important to me that people know that I am from Ely in Cardiff.”

A vigil took place for the deaths of Kyrees Sullivan, 16, and Harvey Evans, 15 in May Credit: PA

A police officer is being criminally investigated for dangerous driving after following two teenagers in a van before they died in an e-bike crash in Ely on May 22.

Kyrees Sullivan, 16, and Harvey Evans, 15, died when they crashed on a Sur-Ron bike minutes after CCTV captured them being followed by the police van.

Tensions between locals and police at the scene led to a riot lasting several hours, during which time dozens of officers were hurt, property was damaged and cars were set alight.

Ayola, who won a best supporting actress Bafta in 2021 for her role in BBC One drama Anthony, will be honoured at the Bafta Cymru Awards 2023 at the ICC Wales in Newport on Sunday October 15.

She said of the award: “I still haven’t really taken it in. I’m still a bit dazed and confused by it. It’s… I’m very grateful and honoured but still haven’t really breathed it in.”

She added: “There’s something about knowing that your work is being talked about when you’re not in the room, that people are mindful of what you do, they respect what you do and you don’t have to be there for that to be consideration.

“Legacy is huge for me – the idea that we come from, and we go on to, and we take the hand of the people in front and we call the people behind.

“So the idea that my work lives on in the long line of things is massive to me. That’s a very, very big deal.”

Credit: LA Productions / BBC

Reflecting on her career, Ayola said one of the highlights was playing Hermione Granger in the West End production of Harry Potter And The Cursed Child.

She said: “The thing that I love most about having been in that is the joy of the fans of that show, which is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. And they’re still friends, a lot of them, and they have followed me on some of the projects.

“They’ve sort of been to theatres all around the country and they are still incredibly loyal.

“So that was a high point because I’d never really experienced that kind of devotion to a piece before.”

The Sian Phillips Award is named after Welsh star Dame Sian, 90, who was married to the late actor Peter O’Toole and has performed in everything from Ibsen to The Archers and an adaptation of John le Carre’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy opposite Sir Alec Guinness.

A leading stage and screen star, she also appeared in the 1969 musical film Goodbye, Mr Chips and is particularly known for her performance as Livia in the 1976 BBC television series I, Claudius.