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HRH The Princess Royal confers Honorary Degree on Hollywood actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

Internationally acclaimed actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Literature Honoris Causa of the University of London International Programmes, by HRH The Princess Royal, Chancellor of the University of London.

Adewale graduated with an LLB from the University of London International Programmes and an LLM from King’s College London, one of 18 member institutions of the University of London.

Of his Honorary Degree, presented at the Barbican Centre in London on Tuesday 7th of March, Adewale said:

My journey to this podium has been a miraculous one. One that was fraught with difficulties and obstacles. As a little boy in Tilbury, England, never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined such an honour being bestowed on me. As a young black boy growing up in England, I never felt I belonged, and nor did I feel I had a place, but today, you have given me that place.

Adewale’s acting career has seen him perform in critically acclaimed television shows including Lost and Game of Thrones, and major blockbuster films such as The Mummy Returns, The Bourne Identity, and recently the Oscar-winning Suicide Squad, but his start in life was full of adversity.

Adewale was brought up by white working-class foster parents when, after a spell as students in London, his parents moved back to Nigeria. In his address to the students and their guests following his response, Adewale said that the importance of education in his life stems back to his grandfather.

He explained that, had it not been for his parents’ efforts and their vision for his future, he would not be where he is today:

For me, my education became the key to inner transformation and personal fulfilment. One of the greatest life-changing moments was when I passed my first examination. I was always led to believe that I was unintelligent. Throughout my life I had been made to feel incompetent, and that I would never amount to anything. But after passing that first examination, I will never forget how I wept my eyes out. It was only a pass but I felt like an ‘A’ class student […] It empowered me, and I became the driver of my destiny rather than remaining the victim of my circumstances.’

Adewale added:

For me, there was no greater joy than to study within an institution that encourages, supports and celebrates those that apply themselves. My love of education, found at The University of London, changed my life forever.’

The Orator, Dr Mary Stiasny OBE, Pro Vice-Chancellor (International), University of London, said:

This experience of studying for Law proved formative for Adewale, who has mentioned in interviews that the concentration and dedication necessary to completing a Law degree has helped him directly with his acting – learning lines, as well as analysing and breaking down characters, apparently comes a lot easier after spending years revising for exams.’

She added:

Adewale’s story is one of exceptional success in the face of adversity. To have met with the difficulties he has had, whilst growing up, and to have come through them to international acclaim, attests to a positive and determined character that could be an inspiration to many. We are delighted to have conferred the degree of Doctor of Literature, Honoris Causa, on Adewale. It is much deserved.’

Video: Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje at the 2017 London Graduation
"For me, my education became the key to inner transformation and personal fulfilment.": Adewale