Sir Lenny Henry: According to a survey, racism is a blemish on the entertainment industry

Image credit: Metro

Sir Lenny Henry: According to a survey, racism is a blemish on the entertainment industry.

According to a major new survey, more than half of all performers from ethnic minorities have directly faced prejudice in the workplace.

In a poll of more than 1,300 performers in the United Kingdom, 64 percent said they had been subjected to racist stereotypes during an audition, and 55 percent said they had been subjected to racist behaviour during work.

Meanwhile, 71% stated that the hair and make-up departments were unable to accommodate their ethnicity, hair colour, or skin tone.

The discoveries, according to Sir Lenny Henry, are a “stain on the entire industry.”

“This investigation finally brings into light what many of us talk about, and suffer from, in secret,” the actor and comedian continued.

“We’re all in this industry because we enjoy it, but we need to do better.”

The Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity at Birmingham City University commissioned the report. Almost four out of five actors stated they had been invited to audition for a part that would stereotype their ethnicity. Only 39% thought they would be able to decline those auditions.

“All the characters that were distinctive to my heritage… were all stereotyped,” one actor of Middle Eastern ancestry stated, citing a terrorist daughter, an immigrant, and “scripts written in terrible English” as examples.

“Eight out of ten” of her auditions, according to a British Asian actress in her 50s, were for an “Indian mother/aunt, etc., with an accent,” typically spouting antiquated beliefs about sexuality and interracial marriage.

The investigation concluded with a number of suggestions, including the creation of an independent third-party reporting organisation and the placement of individuals of colour in key positions with the authority to actively engage in anti-racist practices.

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