A WEMBLEY actor has won the country's most coveted award for thesps under 30.

Nonso Anozie, 26, of Westbury Road, scooped the Ian Charleson Award for his performance as Shakespeare's Othello in an adaptation by the famous Cheek by Jowl theatre company.

Nonso, a former performing arts student at the College of North West London, trod the boards in 14 countries on an exhausting eight-month world tour last year.

The 6ft 6in actor thanked director Declan Donnellan at the ceremony at the National Theatre on May 13 before Helen Mirren presented him with his prize.

Mirren, a fellow lover of the Bard, shot to fame at 18 playing Cleopatra in Anthony and Cleopatra at the Old Vic.

She went on to join the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1967.

The annual award honours Scottish actor Charleson, who co-starred in the film Chariots of Fire, sang in National Theatre productions like Guys and Dolls and played Hamlet before dying of Aids, aged 39.

Renowned classical performers like Tom Hollander, Toby Stephens and Rupert Penry-Jones are past winners of the prestigious award.

Nonso's former teacher and head of arts at the CNWL, Steve Keating, said: "We are thrilled but not surprised. Nonso's progress has been just amazing."

Steve also taught the new Doctor Who Christopher Eccleston, when he started teaching in Manchester.