Sir Lenny Henry has mentioned he’s “at all times shocked” by the shortage of black and brown individuals at Glastonbury, as he known as for higher illustration of ethnic minorities in all sides of British society.
The actor and entertainer, whose new BBC documentary exploring id and belonging is out later this month, mentioned festivals have been an space of British life the place correct integration was nonetheless lacking.
“It’s attention-grabbing to look at Glastonbury and have a look at the viewers and never see any black individuals there,” Henry mentioned in an interview with the journalist Clive Myrie within the Radio Occasions.
“I’m at all times shocked by the shortage of black and brown faces at festivals. I feel, ‘Wow, that’s nonetheless very a lot a dominant tradition factor.’”
Henry’s Caribbean Britain, a two-part documentary, incorporates a host of well-known names from the humanities together with Sonia Boyce, David Harewood, Trevor Nelson and Benjamin Zephaniah sharing their tales and experiences of Caribbean tradition within the UK.
His feedback got here as Glastonbury’s co-organiser Emily Eavis mentioned Stormzy’s 2019 headline efficiency was “a bit of bit late perhaps”.
The grime artist and rapper was the primary black solo British headliner within the pageant’s historical past. Talking in a brand new BBC Two documentary, celebrating 50 years of the pageant at Worthy Farm in Somerset, Eavis mentioned: “He was representing the black group in a really predominantly white pageant and clearly that’s a very vital second for us, nevertheless it’s additionally a bit of bit late perhaps. We should always have in all probability achieved it earlier than.”
The documentary’s director and producer Francis Whately additionally mentioned Glastonbury was indicator of what was taking place within the larger music scene. “So, whether or not that’s with Stormzy or a 50-50 gender break up … They’ve at all times tried to mirror what’s happening in society and within the music business,” he mentioned.
Henry, who co-founded Comedian Reduction, was born in Dudley in 1958 – a yr after his dad and mom arrived within the UK from Jamaica. He recalled how he was advised by his mom as a younger boy that he needed to exit and combine with native individuals.
“As a result of my expertise as much as that time, across the age of 9 or 10, was to be a sufferer of informal racism and to be preventing on a regular basis at college. All of a sudden I had one thing to check myself to,” he mentioned.
He additionally spoke concerning the cultural energy of tv and mentioned he wish to see the illustration of ethnic minorities, disabled individuals and the LGBTQ+ group within the inventive industries to proceed to enhance.
“It’s nice to have David Olusoga on tv speaking about black British historical past that goes again to Hadrian’s Wall,” he mentioned. “Someplace the gatekeepers have modified, as a result of now we’re allowed to have you ever on Mastermind. However how lengthy did that take?
“We nonetheless need extra illustration as a result of we deserve it. We’re British residents, we’re colonials. We’ve been on this nation, we now have grown up on this nation, we’ve contributed and plenty of us really feel it nonetheless isn’t being reciprocated sufficient. That’s what this documentary is about.”
Henry is a longstanding campaigner for variety within the media and helps lead the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Variety at Birmingham Metropolis College. He additionally has a job within the movie adaptation of Equipment de Waal’s My Identify Is Leon, which his firm Douglas Highway is producing.
Talking on the Hay pageant about My Identify Is Leon, Henry criticised the way streaming services commission content, saying they did not nurture new writers, and specifically writers of color, sufficiently.