Last Sunday saw the world’s biggest film stars hit the Royal Festival Hall for the BAFTAs. Among their number was British actor Jimmy Akingbola, who flew back from LA to co-present the award for Best Documentary alongside Jodie Turner-Smith.

In a hotel suite in South London, Akingbola prepared for the event with his team and suited up into his tuxedo (Garçon Couture, if you're wondering.) While Akingbola had to prep sooner than most due to a pre-red carpet rehearsal – it's a presenter thing – photographer Bertie Watson managed to take shots of the Bel-Air actor throughout the hotel.

Akingbola is currently starring as Geoffrey in Peacock's Bel-Air, a reimagining of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air – the second season is out this week. Meanwhile his ITV documentary, Handle With Care explored the reality of growing up in the care system in England.

The documentary was longlisted for a BAFTA – expect to see Akingbola back on its stage in the not-too-distant future. 

We spoke to Akingbola about his experiences of the evening.

How did you find the BAFTA experience? 

Presenting the ‘Best Documentary’ Film Award was a dream come true. The whole experience was so special; I saw so many of my friends being celebrated for what they do.

And on top of that, I had the chance to meet many of my film heroes. It was a beautiful experience.

What's one thing that surprised you? 

I was pleasantly surprised that I wasn’t nervous about presenting an award.

Jimmy Akingbola
Jimmy Akingbola
Jimmy Akingbola

Talk us through your remit as a presenter... 

My remit was to connect with the audience in the room and the people at home and to try to break the ice and make everyone relaxed.

What are you thinking up there?  

You know what, I wasn’t nervous at all. It was exciting to be in a room full of my peers and friends.

I was also thinking how great it was to be up on the BAFTA stage, knowing that my friends and family would be proud.

Coolest person you met?

Wow! How long do you have…? It has to be Angela Bassett and Viola Davis! They were both cool, beautiful, elegant and kind.

Any funny stories?  

Yes. Backstage myself and Jodie Turner Smith were talking to Cate Blanchett and she said she was nervous after watching us present our award.

We found ourselves giving her tips and telling her she would be fine!

Jimmy Akingbola
Jimmy Akingbola

Hit an after party?  

Yes I did! Please forgive all the name drops but you did ask..

After the Bafta Dinner I went to the Vogue Party first at Annabelle’s where they played Afro Beat and I partied hard with my friends Lashana Lynch, Shelia Atim, Letitia Wright, Naomi Ackie and Yvonne Orji.

And then after that I went to the amazing Netflix Party.

What time were you home?  

I was home at 5am and then I had to be up at 9am having breakfast with 12 year old nephew.

The day after I flew back to LA and now I’m getting ready for my Bel-Air Season 2 Premiere while still recovering from the Bafta Weekend!

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