It has been quite the journey for the city’s latest hero son. Filmmaker Wash Westmoreland used to be a pupil at Fir Tree Middle School in Moortown, Leeds, but on Sunday he clutched an Oscar won by actress Julianne Moore.
The A-list star picked up the Best Actress award for her leading role in Westmoreland’s latest film, an adaptation of best-selling book ‘Still Alice’, which he co-directed with his partner Richard Glatzer.
Born Paul Westmoreland but known as Wash since picking up the nickname in his childhood years, he now lives in Los Angeles but his home city called him back today - this time for personal recognition.
The Leeds-born director was given a civic reception by the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Leeds at the Civic Hall yesterday, along with his parents and other family members, where he was bestowed with the title of Yorkshire Patron courtesy of Welcome to Yorkshire. He joins a prestigious list of White Rose heroes to be awarded the title, which recognises them as ambassadors for the region.
“I can’t believe it,” he said. “It’s completely unexpected and a fantastic honour. It’s like an OBE of Yorkshire... no, it’s much cooler than an OBE!”
After leaving middle school, Westmoreland, now 48, went to Wetherby High School. He later studied Politics and East Asian Studies in Newcastle; a direction which led to a stint living in Japan.
He then headed to North America with the idea of travelling but ended up in New Orleans where he resumed a teenage hobby and shot short films. This path led to LA and after making several independent films, Still Alice has cast him into the limelight.
His mother, Margaret McManaman, who lives in Bardsey, Leeds, with her husband Michael, said: “I’m incredibly proud of him.”
A preview of Still Alice is at Hyde Park Picture House tomorrow. The film will be on general release from March 6.