Julie Walters says the lack of class diversity among actors working in Britain today is “shocking” – but there is a way to fix it.
The Educating Rita and Harry Potter actress revealed to Radio Times that she has sent money to aspiring working-class actors wanting to break into the profession.
“I have millions of letters from kids saying, ‘Can you help me?’ and I’ve sent bits of money, but I couldn’t possibly fund all of these working-class kids who can’t get into drama school,” Walters said.
“It’s shocking how that flow of talent has just stopped,” she added. “It will change the population of actors, which is terrible really. It won’t be representative of society.”
Walters trained as a nurse before being offered a grant to study English and drama at Manchester Polytechnic, and said that the industry couldn’t expect actors from different backgrounds to break through without that kind of funding: “I couldn’t have gone without it and you can’t get them any more.”
British actors Eddie Redmayne and Benedict Cumberbatch have been highlighted as a growing trend of actors from public schools, although Cumberbatch’s drama teacher at Harrow, Martin Tyrell, recently told Radio Times that “Going to a major independent school is of no importance or value or help at all.”
She was speaking to Radio Times ahead of appearing in Channel 4’s period drama Indian Summers, which begins on Sunday 15th February at 9pm.
Read the full Julie Walters interview and much more in this week’s Radio Times, available in newsagents and on the Apple Newsstand from Tuesday 10th February.