Vivian Oparah, star of this year's Rye Lane and Then You Run, has been chosen for this year's BAFTA Breakthrough scheme, which provides a springboard to creatives in film, games and TV.


BAFTA Breakthrough, which is supported by Netflix, is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year, and Oparah spoke with exclusively about being chosen for the scheme.

Asked how it felt to be among this year's cohort, Oparah said: "Bonkers. You spend so much time having so much respect for stuff like BAFTA and you end up kind of being welcomed into the fold a little bit.

"I feel like I’ve infiltrated the CIA or something, because it feels so elusive from the outside. But yeah, it's great."

Oparah was first seen on-screen as one of the lead roles in Doctor Who spin-off Class, with the actor saying she felt as though she "got into the industry through a bit of a back door", and so "never really had a cohort of people that I went to drama school with, or teachers or mentors that I could really reach out to and connect with".

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"I'd say this year is the first year I've ever begun to have contemporaries in the industry," Oparah explained, while revealing she wants to establish "a feeling of community" through BAFTA Breakthrough.

"I’ve likened this experience to being in Year 7 again, and I'm just trying to find my friends," Oparah said. "It feels mad that there are people that will be willing to offer me nuggets of advice or keys to the doors I'm trying to get through."

Oparah also reflected on her first role in Class, saying that looking back on that series is "bananas".

Vivian Oparah, Sophie Hopkins, Greg Austin and Fady Elsayed for Class sitting around a wooden table
Vivian Oparah, Sophie Hopkins, Greg Austin and Fady Elsayed for Class. BBC

She continued: "I literally was with Pearl [Mackie], like, two days ago, and I haven't seen her since circa that time. So that felt really beautiful. And I guess that reflects the whole experience, in a way.

"That was my way in. So I look on it super fondly. Fady [Elsayed], Sophie [Hopkins], Jordan [Renzo], Greg [Austin], we're all still in contact. It was a beginning. And there's several beginnings, is what I'm learning. But it was a very meaningful beginning; I got my agent, who I love, through that."

Oparah also revealed that she "learned so much from that job through watching Peter Capaldi for the one scene he was in", and that she looks back upon it with "great fondness and gratitude".

Peter Capaldi with Katherine Kelly during Class' first episode talking by the TARDIS
Peter Capaldi with Katherine Kelly during Class's first episode. BBC

Alongside Oparah, individuals chosen for this year's Breakthrough scheme from the UK include: Bella Ramsey, Raine Allen-Miller, Charlotte Regan, Adjani Salmon, Cash Carraway, Pete Jackson, Rosy McEwen, Georgia Oakley, Kat Morgan, Kathryn Ferguson, Talisha 'Tee Cee' Johnson, Funmi Olutoye, Ella Glendining, Cynthia De La Rosa, Holly Reddaway, Joel Beardshaw, Michael Anderson, Samantha Béart and Kitt (Fiona) Burn.

Meanwhile, US Breakthroughs include: Aminah Nieves, Jingyi Shao, Cheyenne Morrin, Sing J Lee, Vuk Lungulov-Klotz, Shelly Yo, Edward Buckles Jr, Amanda Kim, Maria Altamirano, Apoorva Charan, Santiago Gonzalez and Gary Gunn.

Doctor Who continues Saturday 2nd December at 6:30pm on BBC One. Previous episodes are available on BBC iPlayer and on BritBox – you can sign up for a 7-day free trial here.

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