'No one left behind': Lenny Henry calls for more diversity in the arts


Sir Lenny Henry has given a rallying call for more diversity in the arts and entertainment, saying nobody should be left behind.

The comedian, actor and writer won the outstanding achievement award at the South Bank Sky Arts Awards, which celebrates every genre of the arts, for his long career and also his championing of diversity.

Talking afterwards about the campaigning that has been close to his heart, Henry said he would not rest until everyone in the industry felt represented at work.

Read more: Lenny Henry’s pride at Sky Arts honour

Henry told Sky News: "My thing is nobody left behind, no one left behind now in our industry.

"Let's have people behind the scenes and on camera and let's have that be diverse and representational.

"We shouldn't have to put up with anymore, walking on a set and not seeing people who look like us. So 50-50 male-female, 15% BAME.”

He went on: "You know, 0.3% people with disabilities working in our industry, that's disgraceful. Disability isn't just people in a wheelchair, it's other things too.

“We need to be including everybody - everybody on the bus, or no bus. That's what we're talking about here.”

Henry gave an insight into how long he had been working on improving diversity, and the changes that still needed to be made.

Read more: All the Sky Arts Awards nominees

"I'm 60 and I started doing the diversity stuff when I was 40-something, so that's 20 years... people have to start making an active choice about inclusion otherwise nothing's going to change," he said.

Other award winners at the ceremony included film producer and director Danny Boyle, singer Lily Allen, and actor Jessie Buckley.

Gongs also went to TV series A Very English Scandal, film The Favourite, The English National Ballet, The English National Opera, and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.