Vicky Knight, a burns survivor who contemplated suicide before landing her first film role, has said she screamed and cried with joy as she was named one of Bafta’s breakthrough Brits.
Knight, who was eight when she survived an arson attack at her grandfather’s pub in east London, made her acting debut earlier this year in the British film Dirty God.
Knight has said she was bullied and tormented over her scars for 16 years afterwards and hated looking at herself in the mirror but said that pain all went away when she saw herself on screen.
Now she has been named one of Bafta’s breakthrough Brits of 2019, 20 of the UK’s most promising future stars of film, games and television.
She is joined on the list by creatives including Sex Education writer Laurie Nunn, Killed By My Debt actor Chance Perdomo, Dancing On Ice producer Coco Jackson, Chernobyl production designer Luke Hull and Calm With Horses actress Niamh Algar.
Knight told the PA news agency: “I had just landed in Glasgow and my phone started to go ding ding ding, and I was like, ‘Oh my god’.
“I started crying on the plane, started screaming and everyone on the plane was like, ‘Are you OK?’
“I was just absolutely so excited, I didn’t know what to do with myself because I was in Glasgow and I wanted to be home and I wanted to scream and I was just crying.
“Everyone on the plane was just like, ‘What is this woman doing?’”
She added: “The thing I’m looking forward to is being mentored by Bafta, even having that on my CV.
“It’s my first ever film and I thought I already had my dream, honestly. I am going to take every opportunity I can get.”
She continued: “Before I did Dirty God, I was at a stage of my life where I didn’t want to live with it anymore, I was so depressed and I was very suicidal and I just got to the point where whatever people said to me didn’t go through into my head.
“It didn’t matter how many times someone said to me everything’s going to be alright, I just didn’t believe that.
“And then when I did Dirty God, during the filming process as well, I was still at that stage, I didn’t want to live with the scars anymore and it wasn’t until I saw the film for the first time and everything I’ve been through for the last 16 years literally just went and I have never, ever thought that could happen.
“I don’t see Vicky in the film, I see Jade [her character].
“I watch someone else but with my scars and I see it from everyone else’s point of view and I’ve cried for what?
“Dirty God has changed my life, it has saved my life and without that I wouldn’t be here.”
Since its launch in 2013, Bafta’s breakthrough Brits has championed more than 100 young people, including actors Florence Pugh, Josh O’Connor, Malachi Kirby, Ray Panthaki and Molly Windsor, composer Segun Akinola, game producer Dan Gray, and directors Destiny Ekaragha and Michael Pearce.
Additional reporting by Press Association