Get our free email newsletter with just one click

Denise Gough hits out at Oliviers’ all-white best actress shortlist

Denise Gough won the Olivier award for best actress for People, Places and Things Denise Gough won the Olivier award for best actress for People, Places and Things. Photo: Pamela Raith
by -

Denise Gough has criticised the lack of racial diversity at this year’s Olivier Awards, calling on the industry to wake up to its responsibility as she accepted the prize for best actress.

Gough, who was named best actress for her performance in People, Places and Things, remarked on the all-white shortlist in her category, and highlighted the “extraordinary” work of performers Noma Dumezweni, Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Sharon D Clarke, all of whom missed out on nominations this year.

“It’s great that they’re here tonight presenting awards and everything but those three women should have been nominated. Their work should have been recognised. I’m not doing down any of the other women because they are brilliant, but we have a responsibility. I can’t use this [win] simply for self-promotion because that’s a waste of time. I want to feel like I am doing something,” Gough said.

She added: “These things [awards], whether we like it or not, they do mean something. They are very public. I don’t see my reality in all of those categories. I feel like that needs to change. I’m not saying that if someone’s non-white, give them a nomination, but we need things to change.”

Gough was nominated for best actress alongside Gemma Arterton, Nicole Kidman, Janet McTeer and Lia Williams.

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.