Line of Duty and The Irishman actor Stephen Graham has set up his own production firm to give a platform to under-represented voices and stories.
Graham founded Matriarch Productions with his wife, actress Hannah Walters.
“We hope to develop stories that give young and first-time writers and directors an opportunity,” he said.
He told Variety the new company would “try to develop good stories that will be a broader representation of the cultural aspects of our society”.
The Liverpudlian star is adding the production role to his status as one of Britain’s most sought-after actors. His credits span Hollywood hits like Pirates of the Caribbean and gritty TV dramas including The Virtues and ITV’s current White House Farm.
He told Variety he wants to improve representation both in front of and behind the camera.
“We want to give opportunities to people who wouldn’t otherwise,” he said. “For example, someone who would never be [considered for a role as] the head of a department, but is an amazing make-up artist. So, to then say, ‘How about you step up on this one?’.”
The film and TV company will be based in Leicestershire, where the couple live.
In November, Graham told Hunger magazine he worried that a lot of budding actors were falling through the cracks because they could not afford to go to drama school.
“My fear is how many people lose out on those opportunities because they are not given the opportunity to at least have a go at it, which is very sad,” he said.
Graham, who grew up admiring the work of Merseyside dramatists like Alan Bleasdale and Alan Clarke, added that storytellers from different regions and backgrounds also need to be given a chance.
“I feel it’s not just with acting though, I feel it’s with the directors, and predominantly the writers. I think writers from those areas need to be given the opportunity to tell their stories and stories that they know.”