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 Asian actor should play PM: Luther star Ruth Wilson leads call for more diversity on TV 

Ruth Wilson has called for an Asian actor to play a prime minister in a major British drama, as an industry campaign for greater diversity on television begins.

Wilson, best known for roles in the critically acclaimed Jane Eyre and Luther, said it was important to have diverse role models on screen as television is a “powerful force for change”.

She has joined The Act For Change Project, which calls for television drama to represent everyone regardless of race, gender, class, sexual orientation and physical ability — and wants an independent body set up to monitor it.

The growing list of actors, writers and directors to back the project includes David Harewood, Lenny Henry, David Morrissey, Kim Cattrall, Andrew Scott and Jack Whitehall.

It was formed in response to ITV’s trailer for its new season of drama earlier this year, which did not feature a single actor from a black or ethnic minority background.

Wilson, 32, said: “For me TV is a really powerful force for change and a positive force for change … not only representing what is on our streets but also representing what we want on our streets in the future. Or what we want in our institutions, what we want for our role models in future.

“It’s about effecting change with TV. If you put positive role models on TV then people at home, kids at home who look on the TV screen and see an Asian politician or an Asian prime minister in a TV drama can believe that they can be a prime minister of Britain.

“Putting role models on that TV screen for younger generations to aspire to [is] where TV can really push our civilisation forward.”

Harewood, 48, best known for playing David Estes in American thriller Homeland, said Britain is a long way behind the US where diversity on TV has “become the norm”. He said: “When I turn my TV on in America, there they are, there’s a whole broad spectrum of people.

“When I get off the plane in London, turn my TV on, it takes me three weeks to see one.”

The campaign will be launched at the Young Vic on June 30, with a conference chaired by Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti. The panel will include head of ITV drama Steve November, BBC head of casting Julia Crampsie and dramatist Stephen Poliakoff.

To attend the launch visit act-for-change.com/event

(Source: standard.co.uk)

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