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Meera Syal says BAFTA award "represents change"

Syal received the award from actor Adrian Lester on May 14, 2023.

Comedian and writer Meera Syal (Image: BAFTA)

Meera Syal, a television personality, has been honored with the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Fellowship Lifetime Award for her "exceptional contribution" to the TV industry.  She received the award on May 15, 2023 from actor Adrian Lester.

Receiving the award, the comedian and writer thanked BAFTA for the recognition and narrated about her family, career in the industry and her upbringing in West Midlands. She said that the award "represents change," and thanked creators in the field for helping her learn the art. She extended gratitude to all the casting directors who fought to get her in the room, "especially when it didn't say Asian in the breakdown."

Syal emphasized the need for diversity in the industry and added, "not just in front of the camera but in the writers' rooms, in makeup vans, and around tables where deals are done." She further thanked all her fellow travellers, "all the ones who have been made to feel because of their race, sex or class that their stories don't matter...They do because the untold stories are the ones that change us, and sometimes can change the world."

"Syal’s cross-cultural stories and performances have united the nation through humour and have played an instrumental force in showcasing the positive representation of British-Asian stories and talent on screen, over four decades and counting," BAFTA said in its statement.

The 61-year-old has spent over thirty years serving the television industry, as a comedian, actor and writer and is well known for her appearances in Goodness Gracious Me and The Kumar's at No. 42. She was born in Wolverhampton, England in 1962, brought up by an Indian Punjabi family in West Midlands. Syal was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2015 New Year Honours for services to drama and literature.