Actor Michael Sheen awarded honorary Swansea degree in New York ceremony

Welsh actor Michael Sheen, who grew up in Port Talbot, across the bay from Swansea, has been awarded an honorary degree by Swansea University.

The award took place in New York last night (Tuesday, October 16), where Michael Sheen and University Vice Chancellor Professor Richard B Davies, who conferred the award, were attending the US launch of the Richard Burton Diaries, which are kept at Swansea University, and which give a revealing insight into the life of another famous son of Port Talbot.

Michael Sheen Hon degree 1

The official University citation declares that Michael Sheen is receiving his award for his “enormous contribution to the cultural life of South Wales and the wider world, and to the good name of Wales across the globe.”

Swansea University Vice Chancellor Professor Richard B Davies said: “These awards are conferred on individuals in recognition of outstanding achievement and contribution to the University or region. Michael Sheen has achieved extraordinary success internationally.  But he has never forgotten his roots and has found many ways to give something back to our part of the world.  We are therefore delighted to honour him with this award.”

Receiving his award Michael Sheen said: "I'm thrilled to receive this Honorary Degree, particularly as it comes from Swansea, the city that I grew up closest to and where I had some of the happiest times of my youth. I am so proud to still be involved with so many groups and organisations in the West Glamorgan area and so to be honoured by Swansea University in this way is especially meaningful for me. "

After starting at the West Glamorgan Youth Theatre, Michael Sheen studied at RADA, (Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts), winning his first professional stage role in 1991, playing opposite Vanessa Redgrave.  He has gone on to take roles as varied as Romeo, Henry V, Peer Gynt and even the Roman tyrant Caligula.

Michael Sheen hon degree 2

On screen he has played roles as diverse as former prime minister Tony Blair, interviewer David Frost, English football manager Brian Clough and actor Kenneth Williams. He has also recently been on American TV screens, playing opposite Tina Fey in NBC’s highly popular drama 30 Rock.

Acclaimed by audiences and critics in many countries, Michael has also contributed in many ways to south Wales. One example of this is The Passion, a unique theatrical project, for which we was the driving force, and which was staged over three days in his home town of Port Talbot, which  is also the birthplace of Richard Burton and Sir Anthony Hopkins.

Michael Sheen is an ambassador for various charities and cultural initiatives, including the Dylan Thomas Prize, which promotes young writers, and which commemorates Swansea’s own poet, and another famous son of South Wales.

Michael Sheen and Swansea University Vice Chancellor, Professor Richard B Davies signing the honorary degree register
Images copyright of Dan Callister 2012  All rights reserved