Lola Young, Baroness Young of Hornsey: A Multifaceted Leader

Margaret Omolola Young, more commonly known as Lola Young, Baroness Young of Hornsey, is a name that resonates across various sectors of British society. Her multifaceted career spans from acting to academia to active participation in the House of Lords. Her achievements and dedication to public service offer a glimpse into the life of a remarkable leader.


Born on 1 June 1951 in Kensington, London, Lola Young pursued her early education at the Parliament Hill School for Girls. Her academic journey led her to the New College of Speech and Drama, where she secured a diploma in dramatic art in 1975, followed by a teaching certificate a year later. By 1988, she had obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Contemporary Cultural Studies from Middlesex Polytechnic.

Ventures into Acting and Media

Between 1976 to 1984, Young graced screens as a professional actress, and during this period, she became a familiar face on BBC programmes intended for young audiences like Play School, Listening Corner, and Playtime. A significant role that stands out from her acting career is her portrayal of the next-door neighbour, Janey, in the children’s sitcom Metal Mickey, which aired from 1980 to 1983.

Academic and Administrative Contributions

Leaving the world of acting, Young ventured into academia and administrative roles. Her stint as a residential social worker in the London Borough of Islington between 1971 to 1973 showcased her dedication to community service. In the late ’80s, she worked with the Haringey Arts Council, contributing as its co-director and training and development manager.

The ’90s saw Young in the academic arena, starting as a lecturer in media studies at the Polytechnic of West London. Her academic journey peaked at Middlesex University, where she held various prestigious titles, culminating as the Emeritus professor. Her scholarly contribution, “Fear of the Dark: Race, Gender and Sexuality in Cinema,” published in 1995, underscores her deep engagement with cultural studies.

Public Service and Recognition

Baroness Young’s dedication to public service is evident from her diverse roles: from being the Project director of the Archives and Museum of Black Heritage to her association with Nitro Theatre Company. Her commitment to British Black History was recognized when she was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2001 New Year Honours.

Her journey in public service took a significant turn when she was made head of culture at the Greater London Authority from 2001 to 2004. Following this, she was created a life peer, taking the title Baroness Young of Hornsey of Hornsey in the London Borough of Haringey in June 2004.

She has also been involved in numerous public appointments, from English Heritage’s Blue Plaques Committee to the Royal National Theatre. Notably, she has chaired the judging panels for prestigious literary awards such as the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Booker Prize.

Advocacy and Interests

A noteworthy aspect of Baroness Young’s career is her interest in ethical matters in international trade. She has taken a keen interest in issues related to the garment industry, showcasing her commitment to ethical and sustainable practices. As a Trustee of the Aid by Trade Foundation and an honorary associate of the National Secular Society, her range of interests and advocacies is vast.

She is also known for her stance on noble titles, being a signatory to a 2013 campaign advocating for women’s rights to inherit them.

In recent years, Baroness Young has continued to shine in various capacities. In 2019, the University of Nottingham awarded her a Doctor of Laws honoris causa, and by 2020, she ascended to the role of Chancellor of the same university, succeeding Sir Andrew Witty, the former chief executive of GlaxoSmithKline.

Lola Young, Baroness Young of Hornsey, with her myriad contributions across diverse sectors, stands as a testament to the power of dedication, versatility, and public service. Her journey, marked by achievements in arts, academia, and administration, offers inspiration to countless individuals in the UK and beyond.