Anthony Ekundayo Lennon lied about being a Black man and received a six-figure salary because of his deception. Lennon, a White man born to Irish parents, claimed that he stands as a “born-again” Black man, according to The Sunday Times.
Lennon received a $406,500 grant from the Artistic Director Leadership Programme, a publicly-funded theater company in London that caters to future theater leaders of color. The two-year training program received 113 applications and Lennon received a grant along with three other applicants.
Lennon’s award created a backlash in the theater community because he took away an opportunity from a Black person. However, Lennon told The Sunday Times that he always felt like a Black man because of his dark skin and he was called the “N-word” as a youth in school.
Lennon’s story is reminiscent of Rachel Dolezal. In 2015, Dolezal revealed that she self-identified as a Black woman although both of her parents are White. Dolezal’s story was highlighted in the Netflix documentary The Rachel Divide.
At press time, the organization that funds the grants for the Artistic Director Leadership Programme, The Arts Council, continues to stand by Lennon.
In a statement published by Independent, The Arts Council wrote, “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.”