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17 Apr 2014

The Henry Debate

The Henry debate

Lenny Henry interviewed at Ravensbourne on The Henry Debate, aimed at increasing diversity in the media.

Lenny Henry was interviewed on Thursday evening by Eddie Botsio – an interview held at Ravensbourne, in partnership with The TV Collective. In his interview, Lenny talked about his desire to see more of the 14.5% of the country and 40% of Londoners who are Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic (BAME), reflected in the media. He wants to see true representation of the country’s population both behind and in front of the screen.

“Until the demographic of the decision makers and behind the camera change, we won’t get it in front of the camera.” says Henry. He urged the public to voice their concerns and announced that there would be a campaign launching soon to lobby the government for real change.

Henry commented that while the door is opening, and people are willing, everyone seemed to be waiting for someone else to take the first positive steps. He also gave his view that the initiatives and the diversity departments are all very well but what is really needed is real jobs – jobs in leadership as well as entry level roles.

The Henry debate_Lenny

Robin Baker, Director of Ravensbourne said “This is an important step and as a higher education institution preparing the next generation of young media professionals we’re keen to work with Lenny and The TV Collective to support this agenda for change and for greater diversity”.

Founder of the TV Collective, Simone Pennent said “We have to make change happen. With our 60,000 members we will work with Lenny and the industry. But if we don’t see changes then my members are asking me to think about a licence fee boycott.”

This is the second interview Ravensbourne has hosted with The TV Collective relating to diversity, the first being in March with Pat Younge, former BBC Chief Creative Officer. 

Lenny Henry wrote a paper, known widely as ‘The Henry Paper’ where he sets out a roadmap for change. Lenny’s main point is that when he first started performing on TV over 20 years ago, he was very often the only BAME representative, either in front of, or behind the camera. 20 or more years later, despite many initiatives to address the issues, this is still the case. His paper sets out an agenda to address this as a high priority.

You can view the full debate online now.

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