White theatre director awarded grant and claims he's black

White theatre director awarded grant and claims he's black

He also changed his middle name to sound more African.

A copy of an ebook by Anthony Ekundayo Lennon was obtained by the Sunday Times, where Lennon revealed he was born Anthony David Lennon in Paddington, west London, in 1965 to white Irish parents.

Anthony Ekundayo Lennon was awarded a job created to increase the representation of people of colour in British theatre and applied as a candidate of "mixed-heritage".

He also claims a caretaker at his school once called him a "n****r" and threatened him with a dog.

Lennon was also accused of cultural appropriation back in 1990, when he appeared on a documentary called Everyman which explored race. It's your choice as to whether you accept it'.

But in 1990, at the age of 24, he said: 'My parents are white and so are their parents, and so are their parents, and so are their parents'.

The organisation which distributed Lennon's traineeship told the Sunday Times that the job was awarded in conjunction with his theatre company.

It was funded by a grant worth £406,500 grant from the Arts Council England to 'deliver a comprehensive programme of talent development for future BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) leaders'. That a white man could receive funding meant to widen the field of theatre beyond the white gaze has understandably riled up many black people in the creative industries - including me.

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The consortium that awarded the funding said they were "satisfied" Mr Lennon was eligible because he had identified as mixed-heritage "over a number of years".

The Arts Council, which provided the grant for Mr Lennon, said: 'Talawa raised their wish to support Anthony with us.

'This is a very unusual case and we do not think it undermines the support we provide to black and minority ethnic people within the theatre sector'. He even worked as the assistant director on the all-black adaptation of Guys and Dolls, recently.

As he grew older, he struggled to get white parts and later found success with groups such as the Black Theatre Forum.

Choosing a new name, Taharka Ekundayo, he said: 'Taharka is the name of an Egyptian pharaoh and Ekundayo means "weeping becomes joy"'.

That view is not shared by Trevor Phillips, the former chair of the Commission for Racial Equality, who said: "Institutions are so desperate these days to show how inclusive they are on issues of self-identification that I'm afraid I saw something like this coming". In the past he has been open about his identity struggles - growing up, people made comments that his mother must have had an affair because of how he looked and they called him "nigger" as he walked by in the street.

A decade later, he wrote an e-book in which he argued: "Everybody on the planet is African", he said having adopted a Yoruba name, Ekundayo.

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