The Wick - Amanda Berry at The Film Awards The Wick - Amanda Berry at The Film Awards
Monday Muse

Interview Amanda Berry is the talent at the head of BAFTA

Interview
Amanda Berry
Photography
Courtesy of BAFTA
04 April 2021
Interview
Amanda Berry
Photography
Courtesy of BAFTA
04 April 2021
In the past two decades since Amanda Berry took up the role as chief executive at BAFTA (the British Academy of Film and Television Arts), the Academy’s annual awards ceremony and charitable work have gone from strength to strength. Under her leadership, the Film Awards ceremony is now considered to be one of the most important in its field and the organisation supports the development of creative talent in the UK and internationally through more than 250 events a year, cementing its reputation as a vital source of inspiration and information. Thanks to her vision, it’s one of the most influential and far-reaching charitable institutions in visual arts, inspiring talent in films, games and television from Scotland to Asia and everywhere in between. Monday Muses don’t come much bigger. The Wick was fortunate enough to speak with the doyenne of film ahead of the 74th British Academy Film Awards taking place on 10 and 11 April.

THE WICK:   Tell us about a typical Monday for you.

Amanda Berry:   I struggle to get out of bed as I’ve got used to just that little bit more sleep at the weekend. I try to keep at least part of Monday mornings free to catch up on what wasn’t achieved the week before but also to plan my priorities for the week and ensure I have what I need for the week’s meetings ahead.

TW:   What are the biggest triumphs in your career to date?

AB:   I have been at BAFTA for 22 years and the reason I am still here is that I feel we achieve something each and every day and my dreams for the organisation just keep coming true. There are so many triumphs – the journey from the BAFTA of 1998 to the BAFTA of today, the global recognition of our Film Awards and putting our work with new talent front and centre of what we do. I have a saying that ‘talent is everywhere but opportunity is not’, and I want to make sure that we are creating that opportunity.

During the pandemic, we have delivered more activity and achieved a greater reach than ever before, including taking our ‘Breakthrough’ new talent activity to the US and India, in addition to the UK and China. Upcoming triumphs (hopefully!) include delivering the Film Awards (on 11 April) and the reopening of our HQ at 195 Piccadilly after two years of redevelopment that includes adding a whole new floor. The new building will allow us to dramatically increase the year-round work we do to find and support new talent, and ensure our activity reaches a global audience. Fundraising continues to help us deliver this, but I am overwhelmed by the support we have received to date to enable us to realise our vision.

TW:   The way we consume film has changed dramatically in the past year. What do you predict for the future of film over the next decade?

“The reason I am still here [at BAFTA] is that I feel we achieve something each and every day and my dreams for the organisation just keep coming true.”

AB:   I find myself using the phrase ‘hybrid model’ to describe how I see so many things when we get back to ‘normal’ and I think this applies to film as well. We have all got used to having access to an amazing range of content in our homes and I am sure that will continue, but seeing films on the big screen is something I have so missed and I truly can’t wait to have that experience again.

TW:   What and where makes you culturally curious?

AB:   For me, being culturally curious is to have an open mind, so I find it hard to pick just a few favourite places and sites (take The Wick as a given BTW!). Focusing on art, I love the contrast between exhibitions at the Tate Modern and the Royal Academy of Arts, but then I have to mention the National Portrait Gallery too (see, I told you this was hard). I adore visiting numerous private art galleries (one of my favourites is local to me, the Newport Street Gallery) and on social media, I like everything from gallery sites to the recommendations of friends.

TW:   What is your favourite piece of artwork that you own?

AB:   This is the hardest question of all, as I have so many. The majority are paintings but, if I absolutely have to choose, I am going to beg for one photo as well as a painting. They would be Eve Arnold’s photo of Marilyn Monroe relaxing on the set of The Misfits and ‘Man with Primrose’ by John Caple. I also have close to 40 paintings by London-based artist Mark Pearson but I simply couldn’t choose just one as my favourite.

TW:   Who is your hero?

AB:   It’s impossible to choose just one person as I can think of so many, and each for different reasons, so I would like to describe what a hero means to me: someone who makes the world a better place by just being in it, someone who gives life their best shot and inspires others to do the same, someone who finds a way to remain true to who they are, someone who believes in – and supports – those who need it most and gets as much pleasure from them succeeding as if the success was their own.


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