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UK’s richest actors six times more likely to have attended private school than general public – report

Pierce Brosnan, Emma Watson, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Daniel Radcliffe are among actors who appeared on this year's Sunday Times Rich List top 100 in TV, film and music
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Britain’s richest actors are six times more likely to have attended a private school than the general population, a new report has revealed.

The report, Elitist Britain 2019: The Educational Backgrounds of Britain’s Leading People, surveyed the educational backgrounds of more than 5,000 people working in influential professions or institutions.

Carried out by the Sutton Trust and the Social Mobility Commission, the research covered nine broad categories, including the creative industries, covering the TV, film and music industries.

Of those at the top of the acting profession, 44% were privately educated. This compares with just 7% of the general population.

For the creative industries section of the report, researchers looked at the Sunday Times Rich List top 100 in TV, film and music, of which 46 were actors.

These included Daniel Craig, Sean Connery, Pierce Brosnan, Keira Knightley, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Hugh Grant.

The report states: “Looking at acting specifically, there are many potential access issues throughout an aspiring actor’s journey to the top.

“At secondary school level, concerns have been raised about the recent decline in the study of creative arts at GCSE and A-Level. Many have linked this trend to the narrowing of the curriculum at school, alongside school funding pressures.

“There have been impacts both on facilities within schools and opportunities such as theatre trips, where costs are a factor, especially if students live far away from a major cultural centre.”

The report states that after school, the major routes into the profession for top actors are usually either to attend Oxbridge or a top drama school.

It adds: “Concerns have also been raised about the application process for top drama schools such as RADA and LAMDA.

“Many of these charge application fees of around £50 each to apply (though some offer fee waivers to those from disadvantaged backgrounds), and there is no centralised application process as there are for undergraduate courses at university.”

The report lists a series of recommendations for policy makers and educators to improve social mobility in all areas covered by the report, which also include politics, business, media and sport.

These include:

  • Collecting data on the socio-economic background of employees in the same way as for gender or ethnicity
  • Tackling unpaid internships
  • Ensuring recruitment practices are open and transparent
  • Ensuring high-quality careers advice is available to young people from all backgrounds

Editor’s View: It’s time for drama schools to ditch audition fees

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