Lenny Henry’s long and winding road towards a PhD
29 years to be exact. 29 years of comedy by day and Shakespeare by night, with light at the end of the tunnel, as he began to jump start his education at the age of 22. Well-known for his acting talents over the years, whether it be comedy (Chef!) or drama (Hope and Glory), Henry is, perhaps, most well-known for his early role in the British children’s television series, Tiswas (This Is Saturday, Watch And Smile).
With all the career success in both series work and stand-up, it was only those close to him that knew of his desire for higher learning and enthusiasm for education. It was inspiration from his mother, for whom he credits his thirst for knowledge. As the story goes, she was deeply disappointed in her son leaving school at an early age. It was her death in 1998, combined with a 1999 starring role in the British drama, Hope and Glory, where he played a head teacher charged with turning around a struggling Comprehensive School, that took his education efforts to the next level when he entered Open University to pursue an undergraduate degree in English literature. After receiving his BA degree, he then tackled and received a masters degree in screenwriting at University of London.
His “new found” thirst for knowledge has had a direct effect on his career. It wasn’t until he immersed himself in his studies did he get the courage to take a starring role in Othello at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds, for which he garnered both critical acclaim and was also given the “newcomer award”.
Next up for Lenny?
Henry has just enrolled in Royal Holloway at the University of London to get his PhD studying the representation of black people in the media.
Best of luck from everyone this side of pond, Lenny.