Professor, Sir Lenny Henry CBE actor, TV presenter, comedian and campaigner is today leading the launch of an independent new centre for excellence aimed at pushing for a more diverse and representative UK media landscape.
The Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity, based at Birmingham City University, is taking on the current status quo in the UK media where large sections of society are not adequately represented on a regular basis. By identifying, scrutinising and analysing existing policies and processes in the media industry and highlighting areas of best practice, the centre aims to help increase the diversity and inclusion quota in the UK media.
The launch of the new centre follows many years of development and pools the expertise of a number of top media professionals and academics including Professor Diane Kemp (the Centre’s Director), celebrated journalist Marcus Ryder and Director of BA (Hons) Journalism courses at the Birmingham Institute of Media and English, Marverine Duffy.
A core group member of the centre which bears his name, Sir Lenny Henry has been campaigning about the lack of diversity in the UK media for more than a decade. He champions the idea that diversity is not the thing you do as an afterthought, it is how you make great telly.
“Society is shaped by the stories we tell ourselves and who tells those stories and for whom.”
Extremely passionate about inclusion in the industry, Sir Lenny takes every opportunity to shed light on this issue. Delivering a speech at the Royal Television Society last autumn, he called on the television industry to do better. He said:
“There is no doubt that there is a moral imperative for increasing diversity. Society is shaped by the stories we tell ourselves and who tells those stories and for whom. Diversity creates a better society.”
He makes the case that inclusion should not be seen as a tick box exercise or about being politically correct, but a genuine recognition that true representation in the UK media, both in front of and behind the camera fosters better returns, via viewer satisfaction and ratings.
Sir Lenny added: “I do not believe we have to choose between great television or great diversity. The fact is diversity makes television better.”
We look forward to the positive changes that are sure to come from the new centre.