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Ben Newman had a talk with Kimberly Nixon, the Pontypridd-raised actress who took home the 2017 BAFTA Cymru Award for Best Actress for her extraordinary role in Ordinary Lies.

“It’s sunk in a little bit more now. I was very shocked on the night – I know everyone says that, but still” says Kimberley Nixon. At only 32, Nixon has remarkable acting pedigree and her first major award, but remains humble.

“Winning was never an option in my head. I don’t think I spoke one full sentence, honestly!”

She got a few sentences out in her acceptance speech, in fact, in what proved to be a very raw and emotional reaction to her first major acting award. It proved that the BAFTA Cymru award holds great importance.

Ordinary Lies was a real learning experience for Nixon. Recounting her audition, now with a laugh, Nixon spoke of how the director – Misha Manson-Smith – “decided to do one of the really big scenes towards the end of the show for the audition. I went and [he] said for me to just go for it and get a feel for the show, so I just did, and it went a bit crazy. It was a feeling of ‘I either nailed that, or I’m so far wide of the mark I’ll never work again’”. For an audition to cause a reaction like that meant Nixon was left feeling like “the show could be something special.”

“Misha was really great and pushed the crazier side of my character’s personality, and I got to play a little more of the comedy side of it – balancing comedy and drama was definitely a learning experience”.  It seemed like the director was just as fond of Nixon to allow her so much artistic freedom on set; the script gave her the room to be herself, setting her apart from the other BAFTA Cymru candidates.

Her character, Holly, deals with a lot of millennial anxieties. The focal point of Holly’s story is to do with the deceiving and manipulative nature of social media. Nixon, who has a relatively small social media presence, could understand why it formed such a significant part of Holly’s story. Could she relate to Holly’s experience of social media?

“Yeah, I think when I read it and we started working on it, it did – sort of as a by-product – make me look at my own social media habits. Work-wise I’m quite private”.

It’s refreshing to find someone who bucks the millennial social media obsession. “With things like Twitter, I don’t know how healthy they can be for an actor. I think otherwise – and I’ve seen it – that you can look at social media as a validation every day. You get used to having a certain amount of attention and when you don’t get it you think: ‘Oh, what have I done?’ I prefer to keep that social media bubble away from me”.

Almost naturally the conversation moved onto Wales. “For me, that was the biggest change – I’ve never got to sleep in my own bed after a day’s filming! I’d definitely love to shoot more stuff here”.

What’s next for Nixon, coming to the end of a busy 2017? “I’ve started writing, so I’ve written a TV show and I’m working on that at the moment”. Nixon, it seems, always wants to challenge herself. Her decision, in the wake of a BAFTA Cymru win, to head into screenplay writing exemplified her ambition; thankfully, she’s having fun with it, too: “It’s been really fun as it’s a comedy, so I’ve been writing what I’d love to see; I’m making myself laugh. Having an insight into the early mechanics of a TV show has been really fascinating to me – even if it doesn’t go anywhere, I’m enjoying it.”

Despite her humbleness, Nixon constantly pushes herself forward. This writer jokes that perhaps soon we’ll be interviewing her in the wake of an Academy Award for Best Screenplay?

“Definitely, yeah!” she replies, half-laughing, but half-confident.

photo BAFTA Cymru Shutterstock

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