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UEL theatre expert backs Idris Elba, saying UEL has role to play in creating arts diversity

students studying at UEL

Academic says UEL offers artistic pathway for students from all backgrounds

Acclaimed actor Idris Elba’s call for greater diversity in television applies equally to the live performing arts – and the University of East London is at the forefront of making that worthy goal a reality, says Dr Dominic Hingorani, a Reader in Theatre and Performance at UEL and expert in British Asian theatre. 

“We need to develop the next generation of artists and producers to reflect the diversity of the country,” Dr Hingorani said. “While we do have extremely talented artists like Idris, just think of the number we have missed because those potential creators have been ignored and marginalised.

“UEL is proud to be one of the pathways through which this can happen. Many of our students come from diverse backgrounds and a high number are the first in their family to attend higher education.”

Nearly 70 per cent of UEL students are from black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds.              

Mr Elba addressed members of Parliament in a moving speech on Monday evening. His speech follows criticism that the recent shortlist of US-based Academy Award nominations reflects a mostly white make-up. 

The east Londoner said the UK was the most diverse country in the world but that was not reflected on the nation’s televisions. Diversity on the small screen was important, he said, because the television world helped shape the real world and, in turn, offered a window to society. 

“Talent is our lifeblood. We can't afford to waste it, or give it away,” Mr Elba said. “But when you don't reflect the real world, too much talent is trashed. Talent is everywhere, opportunity isn't.”

Without diversity, the full story of our communities aren’t being told, Dr Hingorani agreed.

“Idris Elba's address to Parliament on diversity in the media is not only timely but vital to the creative economy of this country,” he said.