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You Don’t Know Me interview with Bukky Bakray (plays Bless)

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What drew you to the project?

The story, it’s always the story. One of my dreams is to play a lawyer and the opportunity to be in a courtroom and to be in something centred around a court case was fascinating to me. And when I read the novel, the narrative was really gripping. It was one of the first times I’ve read a book and was shocked every time I turned the page. The story was so compelling.

What is You Don’t Know Me about?

You Don’t Know Me is about a young man who is standing trial for a crime he possibly didn’t commit; he fires his attorney and decides to do his own closing speech. As he recites what happened, we interject into the past and see how events played out and why things happened the way they did.

How much of a love story do you think this is?

Yes, I think it’s a love story as it centres around human beings and love is always going to be there. It’s not the standard Romeo and Juliet narrative where you love and you lose, it has more of a likeness to real life. The dysfunction and friction in the relationship between Kyra and Hero is portrayed in an honest way.

Who is Bless?

Bless is Hero’s young sister but she is an old soul. Whenever I get into character, I always think about song lyrics and there’s a Jay-Z bar, he says, “I’m like a dog, I never speak, but I understand” – and I feel that’s how Bless is.

She’s not really a talker but she’s very observant, and she takes in the energy that’s around her. Since it’s just been Bless and Hero for so long, the bad stuff that happens to Hero is really affecting her because they are so connected.

How would you describe the relationship between Hero and Bless?

It’s weird as I have three brothers, but the relationship between Hero and Bless is so different from the relationship I have with my brothers. Hero and Bless are affectionate and understanding but in a very different way. They don’t talk a lot, but their discussions are always profound. It’s not typical brother and sister small talk, their dynamic is exciting, and I’ve never been in a relationship like that. I think Bless really looks up to Hero as an older brother. She’s trying to emulate him in a way.

What or who did you draw on to get a better understanding of your character?

Music, music! If I didn’t have music, I wouldn’t be able to act! Bless has a playlist and I always have music that I draw on. It’s the lyrics. There’s a lyric in a song called Ottolenghi by Loyle Carner, he says “trying to exist and hide your face” and I feel that Bless is a character who feels marginal to everything and she’s always trying to hide. She wears lots of baggy clothes.

Bless is constantly trying to hide from the rest of the world and that’s why she doesn’t really speak when she’s around the other protagonists in the series, but when she meets Curt it’s different. Curt and Bless are very individual but they’ve had similar experiences. She knows what is feels like to be alone and that’s why they’re drawn to each other.

What similarities do you share with Bless?

I feel that we’re both really artsy, and the music I’ve taken inspiration from for Bless has been music from my own playlist. I have very eclectic taste, so when I jump into character, I can just pick the tracks.

I believe that acting is just a heightened part of yourself. The design team put a guitar in her room, and I’ve been trying to learn the guitar, Bless is meant to be a pro at the guitar and I’m still trying!

How is important is family to Bless? And how important is family to you?

I think family is not that important to Bless and she wouldn’t know what it feels like to be important. I feel like with Hero, yes, they’re brother and sister, but what family means to her and what it means to other people is very different. She sees Hero as a really good friend but I don’t think she’s that close to her mother.

I think the difference between me and Bless is that I’ve learn to understand how important family is. And with family, you can’t help it, you’re stuck with them. One similarity that me and Bless do have is that we understand that family is just blood and it’s the relationships that you make with other people that can be even more profound.

What is the message of the show?

The judicial system is nuts?? I think – the belief in humanity. I hope people see the focus on it in this show and how people do actually care for one another. There are layers of caring, compassion and empathy throughout.