Dame Helen Mirren, recipient of the Bafta Fellowship, said acting has become the preserve of kids with rich parents.
Dame Helen Mirren says acting is becoming the preserve of rich kids whose parents will fund them through drama school, as she dedicated her Bafta Fellowship to the teacher who encouraged her to follow her dream.
The actress began her career at the National Youth Theatre, a charity which offers free training for 14- to 25-year-olds.
Speaking backstage at the Baftas, Dame Helen said the NYT was now more vital than ever.
“The National Youth Theatre at this moment in time is incredibly important because the way my business is going, it’s the prerogative only of kids who have got money.
“Only kids who have got wealthy parents can go into the acting profession. It’s very difficult for working class kids to get into the theatre, so the National Youth Theatre is incredibly important.
“It was my way in because we didn’t have money to send me to drama school.”
Other NYT alumni include Chiwetel Ejiofor, who won the best actor Bafta last night, Daniel Day-Lewis, Daniel Craig and Matt Smith.
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One of Dame Helen’s earliest roles was in an NYT production of Antony and Cleopatra, staged at the Old Vic in 1965.
The charity recently launched its own rep company, offering eight months of training to aspiring actors culminating in a three-month run in the West End. However, the course has only 15 places and competition is tough.
An NYT spokesman said: “It costs £27,000 in tuition fees to attend a formal drama school.
“The thought of getting into that much debt is intimidating for many people wanting to get into acting, so this is an alternative.”
Dame Helen was awarded the Bafta Fellowship for her outstanding contribution to cinema.
She dedicated it to a former schoolteacher, Alys Welding, who died earlier this month at the age of 102.
“She alone was the person who encouraged me to be an actor. She was the only person who gave me any encouragement whatsoever, and she guided me towards the National Youth Theatre.
“Sadly she died just two weeks ago. She was very, very important to me.”
Source: The Telegraph