Founder of Britain’s first black drama school is made an MBE

Olufemi Ogunsanwo

Olufemi Ogunsanwo - Credit: Archant

Award-winning Stoke Newington playwright and actor, Olufemi Ogunsanwo, has been honoured in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list and made an MBE for services to acting.

Mr Ogunsanwo founded Britain’s first black drama school, the Identity Drama School (IDS) in 2003, with just a few hundred pounds, after he noticed a lack of representation at mainstream drama schools for black actors.

Mr Ogunsanwo, who lives in Stoke Newington, handed out flyers offering his drama classes for free, and drew on personal experience to ensure IDS was a drama school that he would have wanted to go to.

Today IDS has an intake of 350 students from a range of ethnic groups, and partnered with its talent agency, Identity Agency Group in Covent Garden and a sister school in Birmingham, it is fast becoming a powerhouse in the promotion of black and minority ethnic talent, attracting the attention of the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre.

Mr Ogunsanwo made his writing debut in 2007 with Torn, which explored the issues of race and prejudice in the black community.

He told the Gazette: “I am delighted to be recognised for the 11 years of hard work born out of the passion to create positive and instrumental change in the way actors from all backgrounds are represented on screen and stage.”