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Sir Lenny Henry talks diversity as he hosts awards

Theatre & Comedy | Published:

The awards took place in London.

Sir Lenny Henry

Sir Lenny Henry has said there should be an “international race to the top” when it comes to diversity in the industry.

The comedian, 61, spoke out as he hosted the 2019 Rose d’Or Awards in London.

He told the audience: “I believe society is built on storytelling – the stories we tell about ourselves and to each other. We understand our neighbours, our past, our present, and where we are going by the stories we tell.

Sir Lenny Henry
Sir Lenny Henry (Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com)

“Imagine a world where people from Spain were not allowed to tell their stories and instead the British decided what we should know about Spain and directed, wrote and produced 90% of their television.

“This is how it can feel for far too many people when we talk about ethnic diversity, or disability or gender within our respective countries. When it comes to television, it can feel as if other people are telling our stories.”

Sir Lenny went on: “Let’s talk about diversity and what does and doesn’t work in our respective countries. Let’s learn from each other.”

The star said the French film council had brought in new funding rules to try and help increase the number of women directors and writers, and said parts of the US were giving film and television tax breaks to productions meeting diversity criteria.

“This should be an international race to the top,” he said.

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