Amanda Berry, Bafta Chief Executive - Careers - Stylist Magazine

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Amanda Berry: BAFTA Chief Executive

Amanda Berry OBE, 50, is chief executive of BAFTA

The day we announced 2012’s Bafta nominations on 17 January, I got up at 4am, but usually I wake up at 7.30am and read my emails in bed.

I’m inundated at this time of year as the awards are this week [12 February]. So many messages arrive overnight, especially from our office in New York, that it takes me half an hour to catch up on them all. Once I’ve worked through my inbox, I get up, shower and wash my hair. I dress in my Armani Jeans if I’m in the office, or it’s a Joseph or Whistles dress if I have external meetings with film companies or am hosting a press conference. If there’s an evening event, I’ll take my Escada gown with me. I always eat breakfast but I have so many food intolerances that I can’t have eggs, dairy or much bread, so I stick to slices of chicken.

Then it’s a 10-minute Tube journey to my office on Lower Regent Street. I don’t get to the office until 9.30am. I joined Bafta in 1998 after working as a theatrical agent for the actor Christopher Lee [Lord Of The Rings] then as a freelance producer for three different Bafta ceremonies. I’m now in my 14th awards season. In the run up to awards time, lunch means grabbing a salad when I can because it’s so busy. I’m often juggling calls from designers and having meetings about intricate ceremony details such as the way our brochures might look. During the rest of the year, I do lots of work lunches at the Wolseley or the Ivy with Bafta sponsors.

Every afternoon is different but a large part of my job is working out who’s coming to the ceremony. I work with a team of 50 and we have three and a half weeks, from the day of the nominations, until the event, to organise ticket requests. We contact all the nominees through their film companies or agents and if actors are filming, we work with the producers so they can attend. When Russell Crowe was up for Gladiator in 2001 he had his film premiere in London a few days before. He then flew to Australia for the opening, then came all the way back for the Baftas – sadly he lost out to Jamie Bell for Billy Elliot. He did win for A Beautiful Mind the year after though.

Around 2,000 guests come to the Royal Opera House so the seating plan is one giant jigsaw puzzle. The event is an enormous task involving everything from booking a band for the after party to sourcing Europe’s longest red carpet.

It’s a big team effort and it works because everyone involved is passionate about what they do, myself included. I grew up in north Yorkshire where the local cinema was so old, clouds of dust would fly up when you sat on the seats. I used to have asthma attacks but instead of putting me off, the cinema became a magical place as my mum would so rarely let me go. I’m still an avid cinemagoer but I do go cold turkey after awards season as I’ve usually watched 50 films at private screenings, at the cinema and on DVD in the run up to February. Luckily, I don’t vote in the Baftas, so I’m able to watch them as pure entertainment. We have over 6,500 Bafta members who take part in three rounds of voting. There are 280 films and members choose their top 12 in each category. The second round of voting brings this number down to five and these become the nominations. The final round takes it from five to the winner.

On days when there are wall-to-wall meetings I get home around 9.30pm. If I’m exhausted, I’ll get a cab. I’ve been with my partner Alistair for 11 years. We live separately, but he lives around the corner so I see him two or three nights a week. It works very well. If I’m on my own, I need to switch off, so I’ll play Scrabble on my iPad. If I beat the computer, I sleep well!

Plan B: Jewellery designer

If I wasn’t employed in the film industry I’d work with my creative side. Although what we do at Bafta is very creative in terms of the awards shows we put on each year, I think I’m probably still a frustrated designer. I did a business studies course at Newcastle Polytechnic that included graphic design and if I did go down the design route, I’d make jewellery. Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love it! I wear a lot of chunky contemporary pieces by designers like Hidemi Asano and Rachel Swan. I’d probably like to work in silver, making bracelets and necklaces.

The Orange British Academy Film Awards will be on BBC1 on Sunday 12 February

Want to win a BAFTA goodie bag? Enter here.

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