Anthony Ekundayo Lennon, born Anthony David Lennon was one of four people who won a paid traineeship as a “theatre practitioner of colour” last year.
The two-year opportunity was funded by a £406,500 grant from Arts Council England to “deliver a comprehensive programme of talent development for future BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) leaders”.
However, the Sunday Times uncovered a copy of a book written by Lennon in 1990 in which he recalled receiving jibes in the street from people who thought he was mixed race despite his 100% white Irish heritage.
The actor describes himself as a “born-again African” and stated in 2012 that “although I’m white, with white parents, I have gone through the struggles of a black man, a black actor”.
He also claims a caretaker at his school once called him a “n****r” and threatened him with a dog.
The paid traineeship was advertised as “open to people of colour” and Lennon applied as a “mixed-heritage” individual.
Lennon, an artistic director at a black-led theatre company in east London – Talawa Theatre – previously discussed his identity on an episode of the BBC series Everyman in the early 1990s.
“Anthony Lennon was born in Kilburn, west London. His parents both come from Ireland and are both indisputably white,” read a synopsis for the show.
“Anthony now earns his living as a black actor, because ever since he was a child he has looked black.