“Representation matters” British actress Samantha Morton dedicates BAFTA award to every child in the care system

The British actress, who grew up in foster care, received the highest accolade at the BAFTAs on Sunday

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Samantha Morton received the BAFTA Fellowship Award on Sunday and dedicated it to “every child in care”.

The biggest stars in film and television spilled out onto the red carpet for another BAFTA award ceremony, with Saltburn superstar Barry Keoghan showing his love for Murder on the Dancefloor, Emma Stone winning Best Actress for Poor Things and Samantha Morton's heartfelt dedication among some of the highlights.

The British actress and director received the BAFTA Fellowship Award – the highest accolade BAFTA can bestow on any one figure – from producer David Heyman, who she worked with on Fantastic Beasts. Samantha was emotional when she took to the stage to deliver her acceptance speech, revealing that receiving the honour was “nothing short of a miracle”, sharing how she was part of the homeless community growing up as a “hungry” and “cold” kid. 

She continued: “Film changed my life, it transformed me. When I first saw Ken Loach’s Kes… I was forever changed... seeing poverty, people like me, my life and my family on the screen. I dedicate this award to every child in care today, or who has been in care or has been suffering or who didn’t survive. Representation matters.”

Best known for films such as She Said, The Whale and Two for Joy, Samantha moved from care home to foster parents from the age of eight, after she was made a ward of court, meaning the High Court becomes a legal guardian for a child.

Speaking about her parents in an interview with The Guardian, the then 31-year-old said: “Just because somebody doesn't bring up their children or can't look after their children doesn't make them a bad person. There are all sorts of reasons – illness. There are so many reasons you can end up in care.”

In 2009, Samantha directed The Unloved, a powerful depiction of a child's eye view of the UK’s government-run care system for orphans and children in danger. Despite her stacks of movie awards, Samantha says her biggest achievement is her family. In the same interview, she said: “I think the best thing in my life is my ability to be in a stable relationship. For anybody who has been in care or moved around a lot, it's very tough to form strong, lasting relationships. And that's what I'm proudest of.” 

Married to Harry Holm, son of actor Ian Holm, they share sons Edie, 16, and Theodore, 14, and Samantha also has daughter Esme Creed-Miles from a previous marriage. Speaking about Harry, she said: “He's my first serious partner. Anybody who has been in care says if you achieve that, that is success. You're happy.” 

Previous winners of the accolade – which recognises an ‘exceptional contribution to film, television or games’ – include Dame Helen Mirran, Ang Lee, Sir Billy Connelly and, most recently, Meera Syal.

In other entertainment news, One Day star Leo Woodall comes from a very famous family and definitely felt ‘pressure’ to 'make it’ as an actor and Ant McPartlin’s family confirm star is set to become a father for the first time with wife Anne-Marie.

Daniella Gray
Family News & Wellbeing Writer

From building healthy family relationships to self-care tips for mums and parenting trends - Daniella also covers postnatal workouts and exercises for kids. After gaining a Print Journalism BA Hons degree and NCTJ Diploma in Journalism at Nottingham Trent University, Daniella started writing for Health & Wellbeing and co-hosted the Walk to Wellbeing podcast. She has also written for Stylist, Natural Health, The Sun UK and Fit & Well. In her free time, Daniella loves to travel, try out new fitness classes and cook for family and friends.