The late actress was praised for her work on the forthcoming drama Wildfire, which was made before the young star passed away from cancer. She was awarded the IFTA for Best Actress Film.
Her parents Barry and Sandra and brother Blane told how they were “very, very overwhelmed” by her loss. Said Barry: “This is a testament to the special and sacred bond Nika had with her mother that transcends all of life’s challenges.”
Nika’s mother Sandra added: “For Nika to have been given this award would take her breath away. For me and Barry, it was an absolute privilege that Nika was our daughter. Thank you IFTA, thank you everybody.”
“Nika tirelessly grafted to become the best actor she could be and in Wildfire she found a vehicle that let her express herself artistically like she had never been able to do before,” said her brother Blaine. “It is tragic that Nika did not get to show the world more of her endless talent, but this award and its recognition of her brilliant performance would have meant everything to Danika.”
Though they took place virtually, the Film and Drama IFTAs - televised live on Virgin Media One - were a star-studded affair.
The show’s A-list presenters included Mark Hamill, Colin Farrell, The Crown star Olivia Colman and Marvel villain Josh Brolin.
Cartoon Saloon’s animated movie Wolfwalkers took the top prize of Best Film, while other big winners were Normal People, which scooped nine of 15 awards - including for leading man Paul Mescal.
Hollywood leading man Josh Brolin presented Best Film and spoke about the impact Ireland has had on him, saying: “My own story with Ireland is that at 20 years old I was in Dublin, and I blindly walked into a theatre on a movie called ‘My Left Foot,’ and left a changed man.”
Joining the show from Los Angeles, Colin Farrell presented the award for Best Director Film and praised the nominated directors saying: “I’m so proud to see such great Irish Directing talent nominated here tonight. All of them fearless and determined artists, sharing a bold new vision for Irish cinema.”
Star Wars legend Mark Hamill presented the Screen Ireland IFTA Rising Star Award and spoke fondly of his relationship with Ireland saying: “I know first-hand the incredible talent in Ireland. I'm so happy to join the Irish academy tonight to celebrate Ireland's greatest achievements.”
The award was presented to Derry Girls star Nicola Coughlan for her work on Netflix smash Bridgerton. “Oh my god I’m so shocked,” she said. “Hearing Luke Skywalker say my name is such a shock!”
But it was Brendan Gleeson who landed the biggest laughs of the night when the star, who recently played Donald Trump, was asked by Gráinne Seoige if he had heard any reaction from Trump through back channels. Gleeson responded that he had: “No interest whatsoever in Donald Trump’s back channels.”
“We were so delighted to be able to bring together such an illustrious group of Irish and international screen talent to celebrate the ongoing growth and success of our industry in Ireland,” said IFTA CEO Áine Moriarty. “It was incredible to see the range of Irish talent and work that has been produced, often in the most difficult of circumstances, recognised tonight by a host of stars from around the world.”