press release
Published: 10 August 2023

Actor Kobna Holdbrook-Smith awarded honorary doctorate

Guildford School of Acting alumnus Kobna Holdbrook-Smith MBE was awarded an honorary doctorate, one of three honorary degrees awarded by the University this year.

Holdbrook-Smith, who graduated from GSA in 2000, is an actor, writer and producer. He won an Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical in 2019 for his role as Ike Turner in the original production of Tina: The Tina Turner the Musical – his West End debut and first professional musical.

He has appeared in Mary Poppins ReturnsPaddington 2, and Doctor Strange as well as playing Laertes in Hamlet alongside Benedict Cumberbatch at the Barbican.

He is also a trustee at the Young Vic Theatre, an associate at the National Theatre, a Creative Council member at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. He co-founded the Act For Change Project and in 2020 was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for his services to drama.

Other honorary degrees awarded at our July graduation ceremonies were to former University Chair Michael Queen and Dr Alison Tedstone MBE.

Michael Queen is the former Chief Executive of 3i Group, one of the world’s leading investment firms. He joined the Council of the University of 2014 and served as its Chair from 2018 until last year.

A former academic, Dr Tedstone was Chief Nutritionist at Public Health England until her retirement last year.

We confer honorary degrees on a small number of individuals at our graduation ceremonies, in recognition of sustained excellence and achievements in their field. Notable past recipients including Sandi Toksvig, Professor Lord Robert Winston, Lord Rowan Williams, Professor Noel Fitzpatrick and Lady Brenda Hale. 

The nomination process for an Honorary Degree for 2024 is open.  Members of University staff are encouraged to put forward nominations for consideration. All nominations will be considered by the Honorary Degrees Committee, chaired by the President and Vice-Chancellor. Nominations should be sent before Friday 1 September 2023.

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