Lenny Henry

Lenny Henry is a British comedian, actor, writer and television presenter. He got his break in 1975, when aged just 17, he won the TV talent show New Faces with an impersonation of Stevie Wonder. Whilst still a teenager he went on to appear in the Black and White Minstrel show, which is now regarded as one of the most racist shows in British history. Lenny has spoken of his regret of appearing in the show and how his appearance led him to a profound “wormhole of depression”. Since then he has been a constant presence on British TV. He starred in the UK’s first black sitcom, presented a cult kid’s TV show for 4 years and a sketch show with Tracey Ullman and David Copperfield. In the 1980’s he was first given his own show on the BBC. In 1985 he co-founded Comic Relief, (a British charity with the vision of creating a world free from poverty, using comedy to raise  money and change lives) with film director Richard Curtis. In the 1990’s he created his own production company, Crucial Films, which paved the way for a number of ethnic minority performers to get their break in the business. In the 2000’s Lenny appeared in a number of stage plays including starring as Othello. He has been an outspoken campaigner for increased diversity in the media. He delivered the annual Bafta Television Lecture in 2014, which is well worth a watch as he discussed the deterioration of Black and Asian Minority Ethnic involvement in the creative industries, and how this can be improved to more accurately reflect British communities on screen. The speech can be screened here

Lenny Henry Profile
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