Damian Lewis on diversity in acting: “As an actor educated at Eton, I'm still always in a minority”
The Billions and Wolf Hall actor explained that "everyone has a similar story about them being in a minority" in the acting profession, and that it was not true that "only privately educated actors are becoming dominant in acting"
Damian Lewis has said that being an actor from Eton puts him in a “minority”, saying it is "statistically not true" that privately educated actors are becoming dominant in acting.
Asked in a Guardian live Q&A about whether a lack of funding for the arts was leading to less diversity among British actors, the Wolf Hall and Billions star said that it wasn't true that privately educated actors were overrepresented.
“We have to protect against lack of diversity," he said. If theatre, film, TV, dance, opera, ballet are going to remain true artforms, they must be reflective of all society.
“But that's a different point from saying that only privately educated actors are becoming dominant in acting, because statistically that's not true.
“A handful of actors from privileged backgrounds have done well, very well, and of course that's high profile news. But whenever I work, wherever I work, as an actor educated at Eton, I'm still always in a minority,” he said.
He went on to say that actors have experiences of being in a minority whatever their background.
“What is true and always rewarding about the acting profession is that everyone has a similar story about them being in a minority. From whatever background. And that coming into the acting profession is when we all finally find likeminded people," Lewis said.
“But it goes without saying, I hope, that theatre and the arts generally in my view are a fundamental and important part of any child's education, and to see any more cuts would be sad."
in the latest issue of Radio Times, Line of Duty and Born to Kill actor Daniel Mays claimed that 'posh' actors "seem much more in vogue at the moment" and that other actors don't necessarily get the plaudits they deserve.
"In Rada back in the day they would endeavour to posh you up, make you speak RP so when you went out into the industry, you'd get more work that way. I know actors today that have done that, but that sort of thing never sat well with me," he said.
However, Lewis has said that it is unfair to suggest that only privately educated actors are getting the best parts, joining the likes of James Norton and Benedict Cumberbatch in hitting back against so-called "posh bashing".
"But it goes without saying," Lewis concluded in the most recent Guardian Q&A, "I hope, that theatre and the arts generally in my view are a fundamental and important part of any child's education, and to see any more cuts would be sad."