It’s not exactly surprising that minority actors are underrepresented in television, but the fact is no less dispiriting, and the UK television industry is in particularly lousy shape. In a lecture at BAFTA, British comedian and actor Lenny Henry (“The Magicians,” “Chef!”) said that the percentage of black, Asian and minority ethnic (or BAME) people working in British TV has fallen 30.9% from 2006 to 2012, and they know only make up 5.4% of the workforce.
In the 85-minute lecture, Henry proposes legislation to encourage the employment of minority actors in major roles for British television. It’s a terrific speech, both for Henry’s proposal and the humor he brings to the subject (speaking of a previous talk in 2008: “At the talk’s conclusion I said, ‘I hope that things would now change, and that I don’t have to come back and repeat myself in another five or six years’ time’…yeah.”). While Henry does note that a number of British black actors have had to go to America to get work (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Idris Elba, Thandie Newton), there’s still a level of universality to the message, and it’s well worth a look. Watch below:
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