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Denise Gough: Award ceremonies must start reflecting diversity

The actress used her 40 second speech time to highlight issues of diversity in the theatre industry

Denise Gough with her Olivier Award.
(© SOLT)

Denise Gough spoke out about diversity in her speech accepting the award for Best Actress at the Olivier Awards this year.

In her speech, she accepted the award on behalf of three actresses Sharon D Clarke, Marianne Jean Baptiste, and Noma Dumezweni. "In a year where we have seen progress made in racial diversity on our stages I'm just a bit sad that it hasn't been represented in the nominees...I'm taking Noma Dumezweni with me and Marianne Jean Baptiste and Sharon D Clarke your work is extraordinary and it has really inspired me."

After stepping offstage she told WhatsOnStage: "I thought, I've got 40 seconds, I'm going to try to use it to do something. If you think it's hard being a white woman in the industry, imagine being a non-white woman."

Gough praised in particular Dumezweni for her role in Linda, after she stepped in to cover Kim Catrall when she dropped out of the project at very late notice.

"She saved a show, she saved it, she stepped in with six days rehearsal and she saved it," Gough said.

"I just feel that it's important that our awards ceremony start reflecting diversity because it's happening on stages now, it really is starting to happen. But kids watch awards ceremonies and if young kids see themselves reflected then it's just better.

"And I want my reality reflected in an awards ceremony. I've never seen so many white people in my life!"

Gough won the award for her role in People, Places and Things which is currently running at Wyndham's Theatre.