Rising Star BAFTA Winner Emma Mackey Leaving 'Sex Education'

Emma Mackey as Maeve Wiley in 'Sex Education' Season 1

Emma Mackey as Maeve Wiley in 'Sex Education' Season 1

Sam Taylor/Netflix

The 2023 BAFTA winners may not have been as forward-thinking as some years, but its "EE Rising Star" award is still one of the night's most hotly-anticipated announcements. The category, founded in memory of legendary casting director Mary Selway after her passing in 2004, comprises five nominees chosen by BAFTA juries regardless of gender, nationality, or breakthrough category. But unlike the other awardees, it is selected by public vote, making it a wild card result. Previous winners include James McAvoy, Daniel Kaluuya, Juno Temple, and Lashana Lynch, to name but a few. For 2023, Sex Education's Emma Mackey won the prize for her star turn in Emily

Mackay was in a tough category, with fellow nominees Naomi Ackie (Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody), Sheila Atim (The Woman King), Daryl McCormack (Good Luck to You, Leo Grande), and fellow Sex Education star Aimee Lou Wood, nominated for her turn in Living. The latter may have been in competition with Mackey for the prize but was happy for her fellow cast mate, with the camera catching hr teared up and congratulating a shaking Mackey as she made her way to the stage.

However, Sex Education has experienced massive turnover since the end of Season 3  as the show attempts to pivot into a longer-running ensemble-type series and its original core cast reaches graduation age. For example, viewers already knew going in Season 4 would be actor Ncuti Gatwa's last, both because his character, Eric, is a senior and because the actor is moving on to Doctor Who. Mackey was initially uncertain to return for Season 4 due to heading to an American Ivy League until the first photos from the new season confirmed her return. However, Mackey told interviewers on the red carpet that it would be her last on the program.

Asked about her role in Season 4, Mackay admitted it’s not as big as the first three seasons, “It’s a bit more sporadic because we have more characters. So there’s… I’m not in it as consistently.” But when The RadioTimes brought up a potential Season 5 came up, she laughed. “Season 5? I’ve just finished the fourth one last week! No, I don’t think I’ll be in season 5. I’ve said goodbye to Maeve.”

Season 4 of Sex Education will again star Asa Butterfield as Otis, with Gillian Anderson (The Crown) as his mother. Along with Gatwa, Mackey, and Wood, original cast Connor Swindells (Rogue Heroes), Kedar Williams-Stirling (Small Axe), Alistair Petrie (Sherlock), Samantha Spiro (Game of Thrones), and Mimi Keene (Before) will be back. Also returning from previous seasons: George Robinson (Dalgliesh), Chinenye Ezeudu (The School for Good & Evil), and singer Dua Saleh. New faces include Thaddea Graham (The Irregulars), Alexandra James (The Break), and Marie Reuther (Seaside Hotel), plus newcomers Imani Yahshua, Felix Mufti, and Anthony Lexa.

Mackey will next be seen in the highly-anticipated Greta Gerwig release Barbie, which also co-stars Gatwa. (Yes, Barbie. Have you seen the trailer? Here, watch it, and then come back and finish the article. It’s cool; we’ll wait.) Beyond that, her dance card is empty, but with a Rising Star award under her belt, it’s doubtful it will stay that way for long.

Sex Education Season 4 is expected to debut on Netflix in the latter half of 2023.


Ani Bundel has been blogging professionally since 2010. A DC native, Hufflepuff, and Keyboard Khaleesi, she spends all her non-writing time taking pictures of her cats. Regular bylines also found on MSNBC, Paste, Primetimer, and others. 

A Woman's Place Is In Your Face. Cat Approved. Find her on BlueSky and other social media of your choice: @anibundel.bsky.social

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