Lenny Henry, one of Britain’s best known and most loved personalities joined hundreds of other students graduating from Royal Holloway, University of London, when he received a PhD, in Media Arts.
Having earned an MA in Screenwriting for TV and Film from Royal Holloway, Lenny decided to pursue a PhD. His work involved the writing of an original screenplay and a critical analysis of the sports film and its treatment of black and ethnic minority characters. It also included a critically-reflective case-study of the development process that the screenplay underwent and how this illuminated questions of diversity within the film industry.
Lenny said: “After I completed my MA one of the tutors at Royal Holloway suggested I consider a PhD and once I had that idea in my head I was excited by it. It has been a very intensive four years of work, but the structure of the course worked well for me as I could combine it with my other work.
He added: “Royal Holloway has opened up a huge door for me with regard to screenplay writing and other kinds of creativity that I wouldn’t have imagined possible. I’ve had to go part-time for this part of my education because everything seems to be taking off. – A sit com with the BBC and more screenwriting commissions -and it’s all because of the initial push with the MA and my continued work on my PHD.”
The PhD was supervised by Professor John Hill of Royal Holloway’s Department of Media Arts and Professor Sue Clayton, now at Goldsmith’s College.
A leading authority on British film and television, Professor Hill describes Lenny’s PhD as: “A highly original study of screenplay development that succeeded in bringing together Lenny’s own experience of working in film and television with creative writing and critical analysis of the film industry.”
Professor Hill added: “The way in which Lenny stuck to the task over a number of years while maintaining a busy professional life was incredibly impressive. He has emerged as a well-respected campaigner on behalf of increased diversity within the film and television industry and his involvement in the PhD was undoubtedly an important contribution to this.”
The Department of Media Arts at Royal Holloway is led by a team of award-winning, world class experts in the field and practising professionals.
The department offers a mix of both critical theory and creative practice across a wide range of courses taught in excellent facilities which equip students with a broad foundation for a career in the media and communications industries.
The title of Lenny’s thesis is: Does the Coach Have to be Black? The Sports Film, Screenwriting and Diversity: A Practice-Based Enquiry