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BAFTA Breakthrough 2023: Vivian Oparah

In the second instalment of our BAFTA Breakthrough series we're chatting to star of Rye Lane and BAFTA EE Rising Star 2024 nominee, Vivan Oparah.

This isn’t the first time we’ve sat down to chat to Vivian Oparah, and given her trajectory, it won’t be the last. 

Having first sat down in early 2023 to discuss her role in fellow BAFTA Breakthrough member, Raine Allen-Miller’s romcom Rye Lane, we’re back to discuss just how well the film has been received and Oparah’s induction into BAFTA Breakthrough 2023. 

(Since this interview Oparah has also become a BAFTA nominated actress under the EE Rising Star Award) 

“It feels like a weird thing to put into words because it feels so surreal…I feel so grateful … like I’ve been welcomed into the secret service or something” Oparah tells us about being a part of the 2023 Breakthrough cohort. 

Vivian Oparah, Performer, BAFTA Breakthrough UK participant for 2023-2024, photographed by Vivek Vadoliya at BAFTA, 195 Piccadilly, on Saturday 21 & Sunday 22 October 2023, in London, U.K. (Image ©BAFTA/Vivek Vadoliya, 2023)

Playing upbeat Londoner Yas, Oparah, along with co-star David Jonsson’s performances were met with critical acclaim in the festival circuit prior to the film’s theatrical release. 

Rye Lane depicts a sunnier South London, propelled by the amazing cinematography of Olan Collardy and music composition by kwes (Sampha, Solonge Knowles, Loyle Carner) it stormed out of the gates as an odd, but eventual indie favourite. 

“There’s been such an outpouring of love, not just from the film bros and the film nerds but from the community, which feels super, super important.” Oparah gushes on Rye Lane’s success. 

“I kind of feel like we've archived something people were desperately wanting to remember through the film. It's just just Peckham in its colour, its beauty and in its mundanities; there’s beauty in that as well.” 

Rye Lane joins the ranks of youth-led romances. It’s lighthearted but still contains an underlying sense of “something’s about to happen”. 

Both Oparah and Jonsson’s characters are struggling with being young 20-somethings in London, and all that comes with it, relationship drama, work life and building friendships. 

David Jonsson and Vivian Oparah in Rye Lane

We see similar themes trickle into Oparah’s projects post Rye Lane. 

Taking a gritter approach to young adulthood is Sky Max’s Then You Run, which sees Oparah play one fourth of a friendship quartet whose antics see them traipsing across Europe. The series is leagues away from Peckham’s shine but Oparah who plays Stink shines just as bright. 

At the time of our conversation, she’d wrapped summer shooting in Liverpool,  “I know Liverpool very well now”. For Prime Studios’ thriller-comedy Dead Hot, also starring Bilal Hasna and Penelope Wilton. 

Back to Peckham and Rye Lane, in reminiscing on her favourite scene Oparah talks about the scene where her character, Yas ends up gatecrashing Dom’s (David Jonsson) dinner with his ex-girlfriend and her new partner. 

“I don't know how they edited that together. Apparently, the continuity in that scene was hellish. We were all improvising, laughing nonstop. Benjamin Sarpong was throwing the most insane things at me and David. Karene was brilliant.” 

“It was bonkers”, Oparah grins and she remembers filming. 

Oparah feels like she’s only at the beginning of her career, but her talent is undeniable as is her charisma. On staying grounded within the heady entertainment industry Oparah recommends “good friends” and “staying curious for the world around you.” 

Her next steps for global domination, getting into her music producing bag. 

BAFTA Breakthrough is supported by Netflix. To learn more about the individuals in the 2023 cohort click here.


● Adjani Salmon, writer/performer/exec producer – Dreaming Whilst Black

● Bella Ramsey, performer – The Last of Us

● Cash Carraway, creator/writer/exec producer – Rain Dogs

● Charlotte Reganm, writer/director – Scrapper

● Cynthia De La Rosa, hair & makeup artist – Everyone Else Burns

● Ella Glendining, director – Is There Anybody Out There?

● Funmi Olutoye, lead producer – ‘Black History Makers’ (Good Morning Britain)

● Georgia Oakley, writer/director – Blue Jean

● Holly Reddaway, voice and performance director – Baldur’s Gate 3

● Joel Beardshaw, lead designer - Desta: The Memories Between

● Kat Morgan, hair & makeup designer – Blue Jean

● Kathryn Ferguson, writer/director – Nothing Compares

● Kitt (Fiona) Byrne, 2D artist/game designer - Gibbon: Beyond the Trees

● Michael Anderson, producer - Desta: The Memories Between

● Pete Jackson, writer/creator – Somewhere Boy

● Raine Allen-Miller, director – Rye Lane

● Rosy McEwen, performer – Blue Jean

● Samantha Béart, performer - The Excavation of Hob's Barrow

● Talisha ‘Tee Cee’ Johnson, writer/director/presenter – Too Autistic for Black

● Vivian Oparah, performer – Rye Lane


● Amanda Kim, documentary director - Nam June Paik: Moon Is The Oldest TV

● Aminah Nieves, performer - 1923 and Blueberry (Film/TV)

● Apoorva Charan, producer - Joyland

● Cheyenne Morrin, senior games writer - Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

● Edward Buckles Jr. documentary director - Katrina Babies

● Gary Gunn, composer - A Thousand and One

● Jingyi Shao, writer & director - Chang Can Dunk

● Maria Altamirano, producer - All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt

● Santiago Gonzalez, cinematographer - Shortcomings

● Shelly Yo, writer & director - Smoking Tigers

● Sing J Lee, writer & director - The Accidental Getaway Driver

● Vuk Lungulov-Klotz, writer & director - Mutt


● Abhay Koranne, writer - Rocket Boys

● Abhinav Tyagi, editor - An Insignificant Man

● Don Chacko Palathara, director/writer - Joyful Mystery

● Kislay, director – Soni

● Lipika Singh Darai, director/writer - Some Stories Around Witches

● Miriam Chandy Mencherry, producer - From the Shadows and The Leopard's Tribe

● Pooja Rajkumar Rathod, cinematographer - Secrets of the Elephants

● Sanal George, sound editor/mixer/designer - Gangubai Kathiawadi

● Satya Rai Nagpaul, cinematographer – Ghoomketu

● Shardul Bhardwaj, performer - Eeb Allay Ooo!



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