Faye Marsay from Bristol Old Vic Theatre School has been named Best Actor at this year’s Spotlight Prize.

A panel including Amanda Redman and Rosamund Pike voted the 25-year-old into an illustrious list of previous winners that includes Judi Dench, Albert Finney and Jim Broadbent.

Marsay beat off competition from 20 fellow drama students to win the £2,000 prize with a performance of Motherland by Steve Gilroy. The final was staged at Soho Theatre on Tuesday (17 July 2012).

Speaking after her success, Marsay, who is originally from Middlesbrough, said: “It’s a little bit surreal and I’m in a bit of a haze, but it’s an amazing feeling. I’m in shock. I’m very proud and grateful to Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.”

Molly Vevers from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland took the Highly Commended prize, winning £1,500 after her performance of Pandas by Rona Munro.

Each of the 21 young performers, selected by the UK’s leading drama schools, had just three minutes to perform in front of a VIP panel of judges and an audience of specially-invited agents, casting directors, producers, directors and actors.

Faye Marsay with judges Amanda Redman and Rosamund Pike
The judging panel consisted of actors Amanda Redman, Daniel Mays, Rosamund Pike and Rob James-Collier and casting directors Jerry Knight-Smith and Dan Hubbard. The panel was chaired by Spotlight’s Nigel Seale.

Judge Amanda Redman said, “When the showcase started I thought the standard was so high across the board. Both Faye and Molly had an ease, a professionalism and a truth that blew me away. I would work with both of them tomorrow.”

The Spotlight Prize is held annually and recognises and promotes the importance of schools and colleges that provide full-time vocational training for the next generation of the UK’s acting talent and help make British actors some of the best in the world.

Last year’s winner, Kurt Egyiawan from Guildhall School of Music and Drama, can currently be seen as The Dauphin in Dominic Dromgoole’s production of Henry V at Shakespeare’s Globe, and was also cast in Sam Mendes’ upcoming Bond film, Skyfall.