Championing Diversity: This Black History Month 2018, meet 100 creatives inspiring change

This Black History Month 2018, we’ve brought together a group of outstanding industry heroes to each nominate 10 black changemakers and creators that are shaping culture, arts, design, business, tech and beyond.

We still have a way to go when it comes to conquering the lack of diversity in the creative industry - which is why it so important for us, as a platform, to use our force for good.
To do so, throughout the year we spotlight incredible people, the projects that they are involved with and the companies that they work for, to prove our diversity is our strength and to help inspire the next generation of leaders - because if they can, you can too.
True diversity at every level is the key to creative innovation and success - so this Black History Month, we are celebrating those transforming the industry of today, inspiring the generation of tomorrow and making creative history.
Together, we can create a better and more diverse workplace, shaping a new creative industry for us all to enjoy.

Karen Blackett OBE

Chief executive at MediaCom

Karen Blackett OBE, is chairwoman of MediaCom and a widely admired leader in ad-land, known for infusing authenticity with success. Karen was the first businesswoman to top the Powerlist 100, champions her uncommon position as a senior black woman in the advertising industry and openly discusses her working-class, second generation immigrant roots when in conversation with press. Karen is a huge inspiration for diversity in the creative industry.

Karen's nominations:
Selma Nicholls, founder at Looks Like Me & SoWhiteProject
Chrissa Amuah, designer at AMWA Designs
Anthony Vander, actor & filmmaker, founder of Distortion Entertainment
Michael Adeyeye, videographerJamal Edwards, founder at SBTV
Jordie Wildin, account manager at Ogilvy
Martina Lacey, new business manager, Mindshare
Joanna Abeyie, managing director at Huden Talent
Issah Abdul-Moomin, account director at WPP
Priya Matadeen, general manager, commercial at Dazed Media

Mark Miller

Circuit programme lead, Young People’s Programmes, Tate

Mark’s vision is dedicated to enabling young people to participate, produce and contribute to British culture today and tomorrow. For over a decade, Mark has been at the core of the creation of programmes and projects with influence spanning from national to international - examples include the Tate Collective and the British Council European Programme of Youth Art Interchange. With an avid interest in arts dialogue to promotes change, Mark is a positive force in the world of arts and culture.

Mark’s nominations:
PC Williams, stylist & creative consultant
Stephen Isaac-Wilson, filmmaker
Isaac Kariuki, visual artist & writer
Bafic, filmmaker
Yemi Awosile, designer & visual artist
Nicholas Daley, fashion designer
Diana Agunbiade-Kolawole, artist
Hamed Maiye, artist & curator
Myvanwy Evans, founder at Louder than Words

Tanya Compas

Youth engagement officer at Black Pride, queer activist, writer & mentor

With such a dynamic energy, passion for radical self care and drive to help others, it’s no surprise that Tanya was voted one of the UK’s Top 100 Most Inspiring Women by Amnesty International. Spearheading for change, Tanya is also a youth worker and motivational speaker, passionate  about mentoring and supporting marginalised young women and girls in London and beyond. She currently works with the Creative Agency ON ROAD as the Youth Network Manager and is in the process of starting her own charitable organisation.

Tanya’s nominations:
Abondance Matanda, writer & curator
Karis Beaumont, creative director & photographer
Esme, founder at HOMEBODY
Maya Patterson, fashion designer
Akeilah Bennett, CEO and co-founder of AZ Magazine, feature & technology development engineer
Remi Aderemi, DJ & presenter at Reprezent Radio
Kez Coo, photographer
Seyi Wilson, photographer
Krystal Neuvill, photographer
Paula Abu, photographer
Janay-Marie Myers-Davis, business support at Creative Skillset

Eddie Opara

Partner at Pentagram New York

Eddie Opera is an all-encompassing designer with many a forte; from brand identity, strategy and packaging to spatial, exhibitions, installation and much more. Though he was born in London, Eddie became a partner at Pentagram’s New York office in 2010 after establishing his own studio and making a name for himself as a 90s newbie at ATG and Imaginary Forces. With awards from the likes of D&AD, permanent work at MoMa, a place at Yale University as a senior critic and his own book ‘Color Works’ - Eddie’s cabinet of success is pretty spectacular indeed.

Eddie’s nominations:
Tracy Reese, fashion designer
Jonathan Jackson, partner at WSDIA
Stephen Burks, author
Ozwald Boateng, fashion designer
Jason Murphy, brand design director, Nike
Azede Jean Pierre, fashion designer
Madison Maxey, CIO at Loomia
Bobby C Martin, founding partner at OCD
Virgil Abloh, men’s artistic designer at Louis Vuitton
Kunlé Adeyemi, architect, urbanist and creative researcher
Kerby Jean Raymond, founder & fashion designer at Pyer Moss
Sir. David Adjaye, lead designer at National Museum of African American History & Culture

Glyn Aikins

Co-president at Since ‘93

An icon in discovering musical talent, Glyn was the signing hand behind acts such as Artful Dodger, Lethal Bizzle and So Solid Crew, responsible also for unearthing artists such as Emeli Sandé and Professor Green. After working for big names such as Virgin Music, Glyn took the leap with co-worker Riki Bleau to give their expertise in urban talent to the new label Since ‘93. With such a vast knowledge of the scene and a tapestry of connections, Glyn has become renowned and loved for his abilities to spot and nurture talent.

Glyn’s nominations:
Ibrahim Kamara, co-founder & editor in chief, GUAP magazine
Ree Sewell, A&R, events manager, artist manager and blogger
Kaylum Dennis, video director
Koby Martin, illustrator, animator, co-founder at VVX Creative Group
Daniel Owusu, A&R at BMG Music Publishing
Davina Merchant, A&R at Downtown Music Publishing
Akua Agyemfra, founder & creative director at Bea London
Yara Shaikh, VP of UR Records
Olivia Aikins, trainee solicitor at Spraggon Stennet & Brabyn
Micheal Adex, founder at Northern Quarterz Entertainment

Mercedes Benson

Brand partnerships manager, influencer, DJ & founder of Social Fixt

By day, Mercedes exercises her first-class skills in for all things PR, Marketing and Partnerships at Complex UK Networks. By night, Mercedes her spare time to immerse herself in the music platform 'FutureSNDS' which celebrates new talent in the UK and 'Social Fixt' - the online community that connects the dots for BAME talent in the creative industry. Mercedes can also be caught with a mic in her hand or behind the decks, as a self-taught DJ regularly playing the London circuit.
Mercedes' nominations:
Olivia Gold Tongo, founder of Life of a Marketing Girl
Velma Simmons, founder of Life Talks
Dior Bediako, founder of the junior network
Deborah Okenla, Campus London
Christina Nwabugo, Getty Images
Christina Okorocha , co-founder of VAMP
Dwayne Miller, co-founder of Unorthodox
Cornelius Walker, Google 5 and Filmmaker
Israel Peters, creative at Xero and Founder of YOCF
Ibrahim Kamara, co-founder & editor in chief, GUAP magazine

Jenn Nkiru

Film director, producer & artist

Also named in our list of 200 women redefining the creative industries 2018, there really is a lot to be excited about with Jenn. Her powerfully excited visuals have already won her clients such as the BFI, Channel 4 and Tate. Jenn’s recent dreamlike exploration of black identity ‘Rebirth Is Necessary’ has been produced by NOWNESS and won the Canal + award and Best Documentary at the London independent Film Festival. Other strings to Jenn’s bow include introducing the UK premiere of Black Panther and being given the 2018 Voice of Woman award at Cannes.

Jenn’s nominations:
Runyararo Mapfumo, film director
Abondance Matanda, poet, writer & curator
Elijah Maja, arts & community
Thick/er Black Lines, research initiative in arts & culture to rewrite histories
Kareem Reid, founder at Body Party
Sharmaarke Ali Adan, photographer
Yero Timi-Biu, director & writer
BBZ London, club night & curatorial collective for queer womxn, trans & nb poc
Laura Kirwan-Ashman, screenwriter, director & co-founder at Sorta Kinda Maybe Yeah
BORN N BREAD, creative community in music, culture, events & arts

Gail Anderson

Graphic designer, writer & educator

As one of the most established designers in the world, Gail’s career has been more than colourful. After working up the ladder to senior art director at Rolling Stone Magazine 1987-2002, Gail has gone on to become the creative director of theatre and broadway advertisement company Spotco, an author of a myriad of design books and a lecturer at the School of Visual Arts MGA. Gail has been honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Medal from AIGA amongst many other awards.

Gail’s nominations:
Tre Seals, type designer
Maurice Cherry, writer & podcast house
Njoki Gitahi, design lead
Mahdi Woodard, marketing strategist
Andrea Pippins, illustrator & designer
Kai Frazier, founder at Curated x Kai
Gil Kuruneri, VP, global creative director, Edelman NY
Jerome Harris, teaching fellow at MICA
Lashun Tines, design director
Dimeji Onafuwa, design researcher & consultant

Claud Williams

Entrepreneur, speaker & brand consultant

Blending business and creativity, Claud is a go-getter, leader and a ‘practical dreamer’ - the basis of which sparked the genesis of Claud’s start up, Dream Nation. This is a personal development brand seeking to empower a community of creatives, innovators and more. Claud also offers website design, marketing and branding consultation for businesses and works with nonprofits via workshops and project leadership.

Claud’s nominations:
Akil Benjamin, head of research at Comuzi
Alex Fefegha, founder & head creative at Comuzi
Nas Abraham, visual artist
Buki Thompson, software engineer & artist
Elizabeth Uviebinené & Yomi Adegoke, authors of Slay in Your Lane
Seyi Ogunnaike, graphic designer & musician
Tobi Kyeremateng, theatre, poetry and festival producer
Aji Ayorinde, social entrepreneur, lawyer & designer
Lope Ariyo, food blogger & author
Sebastian Thiel, director, writer & producer

Elizabeth Akanbi-Ogabi

Founder of For Working Ladies

For Working Ladies is a digital media platform and offline community that provides advice, details of events and practical actionable content for women across topics on entrepreneurship, lifestyle and careers. Elizabeth dedicates her work to voicing the stories of diverse, intelligent women, not-for-profit organisations and rallies her network and beyond to be supportive of one another - especially on the subject of female founders.

Elizabeth’s nominations:
Abadesi Osunade, founder at Hustle Crew
Ade Akinsanya, founder at Adzvice
Dior Bediako, founder at Pepper Your Talk
Otegha Uwagba, founder at Women Who
Sharmadein Reed, founder at Wah Nails & Beauty Stack
Chidera Egguerue, author & influencer
Bayo Adelaja, founder at Do It Now Now
Sereena Abbassi, head of culture & inclusion, M&C Saatchi, founder at All Here
Alice Casely-Hayford, digital editor at Vogue
Reni Eddo-Lodge, journalist & author

Velma Simmons

Founder of Life Talks

Velma is an individual committed to awareness and understanding of how global branding works, along with a drive to adapt and diversify the entertainment industry. After moving to the UK to work at the music industry and joining the Universal team, Velma became the boss at brand partnerships at the ever-booming ASOS. Her side Hustle is L.I.F.E. Talks (Learning from Intelligent Fearless Entrepreneurs) which Velma created after witnessing first hand the hardships of a youth breaking into the entertainment industry.

Velma’s nominations:
Dior Bediako, founder & director at Pepper Your Talk
Mercedes Benson, brand partnerships manager, influencer, DJ & founder of Social Fixt
Josiah Sampson, director
Dominique Olowu, musician
Tosin Cole, actor
CJ Beckford, actor
Jeffery Simmons,  senior programmatic partner manager
Yasmine Elizabeth, beauty therapist, PT, influencer
Olivia Gold Tongo, founder of Life of a Marketing Girl
Lletitia Sophie, makeup artist & fashion designer
Roland John, founder of Lynch & Mason & Property Cohort

Tas Elias

Cultural engineer at the Ace Hotel Shoreditch

Tas Elias is the mastermind behind the music and culture programming at East London hotspot Ace Hotel Shoreditch. As the cultural engineer, it’s down to Tas to keep feet tapping on the dancefloor, minds curious at exhibitions and folk far and wide excited about events from rooftop raves to the next big book launch. Tas plays a pivotal role in Ready Made Go, a project for London Design Festival that exhibits new commissions - past contributions have included tip top designers from Assemble and Studio TooGood.
Tas’ nominations:
Jenn Nkiru, film director, producer & artist
James Massiah, poet & musician
Zezi Ifore, presenter, journalist & DJ
Anita Blay, singer & songwriter
PC Williams, stylist & creative consultant
Akin Davies JR, moving image artist
Kevin Morosky, photographer & art director
Femi Adeyemi, founder at NTS Radio
Theo Oliver, DJ at NTS Radio
Tayo Yusuff, shooting producer & director at Noisey, VICE

Ibrahim Kamara

Co-founder & editor in chief, GUAP magazine

At just 24, Ibrahim is already leading the way in digital innovation. Hailed by the Mayor of London as a ‘digital pioneer’ for  his work in digital media and entrepreneurship, he has certainly leaped right into industry icon status. A co-founder of GUAP magazine, Ibrahim mixes skills with youth culture and content, and has worked with brands such as Nike, NME, BBC and The London Assembly.

Ibrahim’s nominations:
Shanice Mears, co-founder at The Elephant Room
Nwaka Okparaeke, multidisciplinary artist
Jide Adetunji, co-founder of GUAP magazine
Abondance Matanda, writer & curator
Leon Carlton, filmmaker, editor & colourist
Ejatu Shaw, photographer
Sophia Tassew, creative
Liv Little, editor in chief, gal-dem
Jojo Sonubi, design, events & founder at Recess & Blkintheday
Caleb Femi, poet & director