Hollywood actress Ruth Wilson — who first began treading the boards as a student at the University of Nottingham — has received an honorary degree in a ceremony recognising her outstanding contribution to the acting profession.
The star of stage and screen was conferred by the University on Thursday 20 July where she received the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters in a ceremony alongside hundreds of graduating students and their friends and families who celebrated the triumphant culmination of their studies.
Ruth is an alumna of the University’s Department of History, graduating in 2003. She went on to study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, but it was as a student at the University of Nottingham, where Ruth first began acting with the Nottingham New Theatre — the only student-run theatre in England.
When collecting her award, she told the room of graduating students: “My time here (at Nottingham) was invaluable. It was where my passion for theatre and acting was ignited. Along with fellow Nottingham alumni Carrie Cracknell and Mike Longhurst, who are two very successful theatre producers and directors, we directed, produced and devised plays.
“We built our own sets, we designed our own posters, we raised all our own money, and it was a time of immense creative freedom. And by the end of my three years here I knew that I should probably give acting a go. And as John would say, the rest was history.
“So thank you University of Nottingham and the New Theatre, because without this experience here for those three years, I probably wouldn’t have gone into acting itself.”
Ruth has forged an impressive career on stage and screen in the UK and US. The multi-award-winning actress first came to the public’s attention in 2006 as Jane Eyre in the BBC TV drama adaptation.
Ruth has recently finished a run at the National Theatre in a new version of Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler. Her performance in the title role saw her nominated for an Olivier Best Actress Award this year. But it was in 2015 that Ruth took home the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for the US TV drama series The Affair, starring alongside British actor Dominic West. The psychological drama has completed its third season and the US network Showtime has confirmed it will return for a fourth season.
Her acclaimed stage performances have seen her win a Best Supporting Actress Olivier Award in 2010 for her role as Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire at the Donmar Warehouse; and two years later, a Best Actress Olivier for her title role in Eugene O’Neill’s 1921 play Anna Christie with Jude Law, again at the Donmar. Both performances saw Ruth collaborate with American director Rob Ashford.
Ruth concluded her speech with some advice to the graduating students:
“Try not to compare yourself to others. Remember everyone travels at their own pace, and each person has their own race to run. Follow your passions in work and play, and then you’ll never be bored. You never know where it may lead, like me.”
Ruth is also acclaimed for her appearances in the award-winning BBC1 psychological crime drama series Luther as recurring character Alice Morgan, a research scientist and highly intelligent sociopath, and unlikely companion of tormented detective John Luther played by Idris Elba.
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