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James Nesbitt praised for Bafta speech on inequality

By Kirsty Blake Knox

Irish actresses have praised James Nesbitt for the impassioned speech he made about the lack of gender parity in the TV and Film industry at Sunday night's Bafta awards.

The Coleraine actor was presenting the award for Best Actress and announced his support for the Equal Representation for Actresses campaign.

"For one female role there are three male roles," he explained.

"This is an inequality that is not only about our industry, but it is an inequality that is absorbed by everyone on their screens every day. As the father of two children - two girls - this should change."

The crowd, including Olivia Colman and Phoebe Waller-Bridge, applauded Nesbitt before he went on to present Sarah Lancashire with the award for her role in Happy Valley.

Last night Irish actress and former Dancing With The Stars contestant Denise McCormack said she was glad Nesbitt used the platform to raise the issue of gender balance.

"I'm delighted he said that," she told the Irish Independent.

"I think it's absolutely appalling that there continues to be more male voices and faces on screen. And that on average male actors are still getting paid more than female actors.

"We cannot change the literary canon and the classic plays - what's written is written. So it's all about acting now and changing what we are seeing and hearing on screen. We have a need for female directors, writers and actors."

She acknowledged that things were changing and female leading roles are becoming more substantial.

"We are getting there but there is still a good way to go."

McCormack's fellow Love/Hate alumni Mary Murray also praised the actor for his speech and believes things are already improving.

"I think the more people say things like that, the more it will continue to change," she said.

The Dublin woman admitted that she does not think she has experienced any sexism while working in the acting industry and has been able to find good roles throughout her career.

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