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Winning a Bafta was a shock - but not as much as what followed; Sometimes success can give out the wrong message. Maria Pride tells Karen Price how her blossoming career came to a juddering halt after her award and how it has now taken off again.

Byline: Karen Price

WHILE most actresses gush about what winning a major award has done for raising their profile, Maria Pride does not disguise the fact that it was not necessarily the best thing to have happened to her.

A year ago, she was named Best Actress at the Bafta Cymru awards for 2000 but rather than help her secure work it had the opposite effect.

``It damaged my career in a big way for a while,'' says Pride, who achieved the award for her role as a battered girlfriend in the harrowing TV drama about child abuse, Care.

``People would not touch me thinking either I was suddenly too expensive or not available.

``I was in London at the time in The Sleepers' Den by Cardiff playwright Peter Gill so people assumed I had gone to London to do big stuff, that I had hit the big time. Suddenly they thought I was too grand to do anything else back in Wales.''

Pride, who was born in Rhydyfelin, near Pontypridd, eventually landed a role in the second series of the BBC Wales drama The Bench.

``They offered me the part of a new magistrate but it clashed with a film I was doing so I ended up playing Bev, another battered wife.''

Despite her initial difficulties in finding work, Pride says she is delighted that she won the award.

``I would not switch it for anything,'' she says.

``I was very, very proud to be nominated as Care is one of the best things I have done.

``Personally and professionally it was a huge choice for me to make to do Care as I had to give up Iechyd Da [the S4C series she worked on for three years].''

Pride was shortlisted along with Eve Myles, who stars in the BBC Wales drama Belonging, and Nia Roberts, who appeared in the Oscar-nominated Welsh-language film Solomon a Gaenor. ``When I saw Nia Roberts was up for it for Solomon a Gaenor I thought `That's it' as it was such a massive hit. And I was asked to collect Stephen Macintosh's [her Care co-star] award should he win so I thought they were being nice to me as I had not won anything.''

Just minutes after she collected Mackintosh's award for best actor, Pride was walking onto the stage again to pick up her gong.

``When they called my name out I shouted `No' at the top of my voice,'' she says.

``But it was brilliant. I had my mother with me and that was the most important part of the night for me, to be able to say thanks to my mother.''

This year Eve Myles has been nominated for the best actress award once again along with Lisa Palfrey for her role in the S4C drama Fondue, Rhyw a Deinosors and Y Twr's Betsan Llwyd. So what advice does Pride have for the winner? ``Stay sober on the night and just enjoy it. Oh, and be prepared - the award is very heavy.'' n

THE STAGE WON OVER DREAMS OF BECOMING A TEACHER

MARIA PRIDE is about to start work on a four-month TV project about biblical stories.

Jacob's Ladder is being filmed for HTV and cable TV.

The 32-year-old actress is also auditioning for other jobs.

Pride had her first taste of acting when she appeared in a TV drama for Yorkshire Television at the age of 11.

As a teenager she starred in Karl Francis's film Angry Earth.

Although she intended to become a teacher, while studying at the University of Wales in Aberystwyth Pride decided that she didn't want to be an academic and took up acting professionally.

Her TV credits include HTV Wales series Dr Elen, which was later known as Glan Hafren, S4C's Iechyd Da and the BBC dramas Care and Score.

She has a broad theatre background, which includes spending two years working in theatre in education and a leading role in Patrick Jones's play Everything Must Go.

Nothing but the best

WINNERS of the best actor and actress Bafta Cymru awards during the past 10 years:

1991

PATRICK BERGIN Morphine and Dolly Mixtures BERYL WILLIAMS Nel

1992 RAY SMITH The Old Devils MAGGIE O'NEILL Friday On My Mind

1993 RHYS RICHARDS Cylch Gwaed ELUNED JONES Pris y Farchnad

1994 RICHARD HARRINGTON Dafydd SIW HUGHES Pobl y Cwm

1995 PAUL RHYS Betsan Llwyd

1996 RICHARD ELFYN Yn Gymraeg OllI Gyd Streetlife HELEN McRORY

1997 MATTHEW RHYS Bydd yn Wrol DONNA EDWARDS Tair Chwaer

1998 ANEIRIN HUGHES Cameleon SHARON MORGAN Tair Chwaer

1999 DEWI RHYS WILLIAMS CymerDy Siar LoisNIA ROBERTS

2000 STEPHEN MACKINTOSH Care MARIA PRIDE Care

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PROUD: Despite the downside Maria Pride would not switch winning the Bafta for anything
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:May 18, 2002
Words:788
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