Actor DAVID HAREWOOD becomes first black president of Rada four years after the prestigious drama school admitted it was 'institutionally racist'

Friday, February 16, 2024
 – British actor, David Harewood has become the first black president of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), four years after the prestigious school admitted it was 'institutionally racist'.

Mr Harewood will replace Sir Kenneth Branagh who is leaving the role after nine years.

The actor, who has starred in films such as Blood Diamond and hit television shows including The Night Manager and Homeland, will become president immediately.

The appointment comes after RADA branded itself 'institutionally racist' in 2020, and apologised for an 'inadequate response' to the Black Lives Matter movement that year.

Mr Harewood, who graduated from the school in 1987, said: 'I am extremely delighted to be stepping into the role of President of RADA alongside the wonderful Cynthia Erivo.

'As a former student at RADA and somebody who has enjoyed both the highs and experienced the lows of this industry, I feel I am ideally placed to help these young people navigate the sometimes difficult path from students to professionals, by bringing all the knowledge and experience I've learnt over a 30-year career.'

Actress Cynthia Erivo, who has been cast as the Wicked Witch of the West in the upcoming film adaptation of Wicked, will become RADA's first vice president.

The fellow RADA alumni said: 'I am thrilled to be joining David and the whole team at RADA as the Academy's Vice President.

'Having trained at the academy, I am acutely aware of how important a strong support system is, when it comes to education in the arts, it is by no means easy.'

The honorary president and vice president of RADA serve symbolic roles to embody the values of the drama school. As well as ambassadorial roles such as through advocacy and raising awareness about the school.

Outgoing president Sir Kenneth Branagh said: 'It has been a privilege to serve RADA, and it is a thrill to welcome the brilliant David Harewood and Cynthia Erivo to their new roles at the academy.'

RADA is a prestigious central London drama school and its star-studded alumni include the likes of Joan Collins and Ralph Fiennes. 

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