Tom Lawes DAFTAS Judge © Phil LewisTAS Judge

Tom Lawes

Tom is an English film director, music composer, and entrepreneur.

In 2011 Lawes directed and produced the feature length documentary The Last Projectionist, a film charting the history of independent cinema in the UK. The film was named BBC Radio 5Live’s Film of The Week by Mark Kermode. The film won awards, including ‘Best Documentary’ at the Cambridge Film Festival. In 2010 the British Film Institute selected The Last Projectionist to be included in its permanent archive collection.

Lawes has also directed a series of short documentaries Southside Stories which in 2012 won two Royal Television Society (Midlands) Award for Best Promotional Programme and Best Craft.

Most recently, Tom has written and directed feature film Amaryllis that has won 12 awards internationally and has picked up a UK theatrical distribution deal.

Thomas Lawes is known for renovating the oldest working cinema in the UK Electric Cinema, Birmingham.

Karen Bryson MBE DAFTAS Judge

Karen Bryson MBE

North West London born Karen Bryson is one of the UK’s leading British actors. Her ubiquitous career continues across various multi media platforms. Karen made the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2017. She was awarded an MBE for her services to Drama.

She can be seen in Harlan Coben’s thriller Safe, available worldwide on Netflix. Karen last graced our TV screens  in police drama series Cuffs for BBC1 as regular character Custody Sergeant Melanie Pyke. She is probably best known for playing Avril Powell in Channel 4’s critically acclaimed drama series Shameless.

The role saw Karen nominated for several awards including ‘Best comedy Performance’ and ‘Best Actress’ at the 2013 MVISA awards. She won ‘Best Actress in TV’ at the Screen Nation Awards 2013 and Best Actress at the BBE Awards 2017.

Karen’s career started in theatre as she was performing all over the country, including RST, The Other Place, The Barbican with the RSC, The Globe, Stratford East to name but a few.

Having transitioned to the screen, Karen Bryson can be seen in such films as Father Mother Son (2019), Safe (2018) among many others, and TV Series including Shameless and Bodies.

Most recently Karen has completed work on Black Narcissus (2020) and Zack Snyder Justice League (2021).

Damon Smith DAFTAS Judge

Damon Smith

Since 1996, Damon Smith has been film critic of PA Media (formerly the Press Association), the national news agency of the UK and Ireland. His reviews are syndicated to more than 200 newspapers and magazines with an audited weekly circulation of 3-4 million copies, making him the most widely read critic in the UK and Ireland.

For 15 years, Damon was film critic of Attitude magazine and he has written for The Guardian, The i, Hello!, Metro and The Scotsman. He is a regular contributor and film critic on BBC radio stations. His favourite film of all time is E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, which makes him cry every time he watches it. Like a leaky faucet.

Peter Wright DAFTAS Judge

Peter Wright

Peter Wright is based in Liverpool and is the co-founder of The Comedy Crowd. They are a global community that uses the power of the crowd to support creators and make great comedy.

Their annual Chorts! Competition seeks to find the most exciting new comedy talent and they recently produced a series of sketches for O2 to keep people laughing through lockdown.

Gina Lyons DAFTAS Judge

Gina Lyons

Gina’s career in television began when she was the winning contestant of Channel​4’s Get Me The Producer in 2007. This led to a Development Producer job at Graham Norton’s SO TV where she worked for five years. After deciding to go freelance, Gina produced the second series of I’m Spazticus for Channel 4.

Gina then went on to develop, pitch and produce several comedy entertainment programmes including The Totally Senseless Gameshow for BBC3, Before The Morning After for NBC new comedy Channel Seeso and Safeword for ITV2. Gina also helped create The Kaning Live with Russell Kane, which was the first show of its kind to air on Facebook and attracted 1.5m viewers.

Moving into Scripted programming in 2017, Gina produced the multi nominated short film Not Sophie’s Choice starring Catherine Tate and Alex Macqueen and Elderflower starring Tom Rosenthal, Lou Sanders and Sheila Reid which became Vimeo’s Short of the Week.

Recently Gina was hired by ex-Channel 4 commissioner Nerys Evans to produce Expectation Entertainment’s first scripted comedy pilot, the critically acclaimed In My Skin for BBC3. Gina has also just delivered a show for the BBC called Dreaming Whilst Black.

A working class girl who had lunch vouchers at school, Gina is passionate about working with story tellers from diverse backgrounds.

Michelle De Swarte the DAFTAS 2021 judge

Michelle De Swarte

Michelle de Swarte is an actress, comedian and TV Presenter. Michelle stars as a series regular in the upcoming Netflix series The Duchess. Born in South London, Michelle was spotted by a model scout at the age of 19 and moved to New York, where she became heavily involved in the comedy scene and since moving back to London she has appeared on a number of panel shows for Channel 4, BBC, ITV and Comedy Central. Michelle’s comedy mixes her growing up in London with her life in America, and she has most recently recorded a Edinburgh Fringe Festival audiobook for Penguin Books. Michelle’s other TV credits include presenting Emmy nominated series Woman with Gloria Steinem, The Fashion Show on ITV2, BBC Three current affairs debate show Free Speech and appearances on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here Now! on ITV. She also hosted the celebrity gossip show Dirty Digest on E4, which she co-devised.

Special Categories

Danielle Everitt

Best Make Up - Danielle Everitt

Working in the industry for over 13 years. Danielle has worked with some of the biggest celebrities and brands out there. Including David Beckham, Katherine Jenkins, KSI, and Craig David.

Trained in all areas of Red Carpet to SPX Makeup. Danielle’s passion for makeup shines through her work!

Now, Danielle is running a leading Make up and Hair Academy offering our learners incredible job opportunities within the industry.


Best Costume - Gillian McKeith

Gillian McKeith is a Global television star with hit television shows worldwide which include: ‘Gillian McKeith’s Feel Fab Forever’,  ‘You Are What You Eat’, ‘Eat Yourself Sexy’, ‘Three Fat Brides-One Thin Dress’, ‘Supersize-SuperSkinny’, and ‘Gillian Moves In’ to name a few.  Gillian has also taken part in ‘Celebrity X Factor, Battle of The Stars’’,  ‘I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here’ and  appeared in ‘Celebrity Big Brother’ to detox the Housemates.

Gillian is an Internationally renowned Nutritionist and number one best-selling author with nine books translated into numerous languages.   Gillian is also known as a phenomenal motivational public speaker giving seminars and workshops on nutrition and health all over the world.

Gillian has also become known in fashion circles as quite the ‘fashionista’ for her quirky and esoteric outfits on the red carpet. And often makes an appearance for fashion designers on the catwalks at London Fashion Week.

Gillian is thrilled to be a judge for the DAFTAS.

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail