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New study exposes ‘class ceiling’ that deters less privileged actors

Category: In the News
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Vanessa Thorpe quoted Sutton Trust research in an Observer news story on elitism in the arts.

A major academic study released to the Observer this weekend reveals the extent to which actors from relatively wealthy backgrounds are dominating the theatre and film industry.

Following the findings of the Sutton Trust last week, which reported that a privately educated elite enjoyed a hugely disproportionate presence in British professions, the research describes the acting industry as “heavily skewed towards the privileged”. The authors scrutinised a large database of British actors to reveal there are now relatively few working-class actors compared to the population as a whole, and that they earn less than their middle-class equivalents because of a “class ceiling”.


Last week the Sutton Trust published research showing that 42% of British Bafta winners went to a fee-paying school. This statistic came in the wake of Williams’s comments at an arts panel held in Northampton this month, when the award-winning black playwright said the situation for working-class actors was getting “worse and worse”. He accused the profession of being dominated by actors from wealthier backgrounds, such as Eton alumni Damian Lewis, Tom Hiddleston, Eddie Redmayne and Dominic West.

Read her full story here.