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

  • Hannah Pool
  • Bolaji Farinto
  • Abisola Omole
  • Melody Sylvester
  • asiko artist
  • Israel Peters
  • Melanie Eusebe
  • Abraham Abbi Asefaw
  • Florence Adepoju
  • Claud Williams
  • Jolade Olusanya
  • Paul Akinrinlola

We asked 11 of our creative heroes to each nominate 10 leading black change makers and creators who are shaping the current climate with raw talent, big ideas and crazy hard work.

There is still a huge disparity of BAME individuals in the creative industry. Currently only 13% of the creative industry workforce identify as coming from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds. In addition, only 8% of senior positions have BAME representation. Spotlighting this subject is as important as ever. True diversity at every level is the key to creative innovation and success. That's why this October, throughout 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.

A big thanks to Claud Williams and our friends at Dream Nation for consulting with us on this project.

Claud Williams

Claud is the founder of Dream Nation - a personal development brand empowering a community of practical dreamers. For Claud, Black History Month "represents a time to encourage people of all cultures and backgrounds to dive into a deep and rich global history.” He also shared that after looking back to pioneers of the American Civil Rights Movement, his own story took shape: “During a period of soul searching, I read the biography of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, which had a profound impact on me. It was at this time that I decided I wanted to use my life to create a bigger impact for others. As a result, Dream Nation was born, and the first event took place on the 28th August 2013, the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s speech.”

Claud's nominations:

Florence Adepoju - founder of cosmetics brand MDMflow
Paul Akinrinlola - director and photographer at PDesigns Media
Jolade Olusanya - poet, director and photographer
Tobi Rachel Akingbade - reporter at Metro and Dream Nation
Chidera Eggerue - blogger, speaker and presenter
JJ Bola - writer and poet
Bola Awoniyi and Tobi Oredein -founders at lifestyle platform Black Ballad
Amanda Akokhia - fashion and beauty photographer
Bola Sol - founder of finance agency Refined Currency
Sophia Thakur - spoken word performer, storyteller and artist

Liv Little

Liv is founder of gal-dem, an online and print magazine run by women of colour, for all, with the core motivation that mainstream feminism overlooks the narratives of women of colour. The publication provides a digital space for the contributors and audience to take control. gal-dem runs events at staple arts spaces such as the V&A, and celebrates its achievements with music and workshops strongly influenced by youth culture and community. Liv has also been involved with work for Refugee Women, such as the ‘Set her free’ campaign.

Liv's nominations:

Paula Akpan - co-founder of The I'm Tired Project & Black Girl Fest
Nicole Crentsil - curator and founder of Unmasked Women exhibtion
Ibiye Camp - artist
Jocelyn Yeboah-Newton - founder of live drawing series Our Naked Truths
Shanice Bryce and Suzette Intsiful - founders of creative studio SSPACE°
Chelsea Bravo - designer and founder of fashion label Chelsea Bravo
Munroe Bergdorf - DJ and activist
Rashida Seriki - script writer and filmmaker
Leah Abbott - stylist
Wilson Oryema - artist and model

Jordan Kensington

A Master of all, Jordan Kensington is a successful entrepreneur, artist, actor, songwriter, presenter and founder. The Urban Music Awards, which founded in 2003, is now held in six countries around the world and celebrates achievements of artists in hip-hop, R&B, dance and soul. Meanwhile, his media company Invincible Media Group publishes over 12 magazines including; Chelsea Monthly, Los Angeles Monthly, UniDaily and Teen Republic.

Jordan's nominations:

Priscilla Ngethe - BBC Africa freelancer and co-founder of Global African Business Awards
Dego Visionz - music video director, producer and TV writer
Jordan Williams - film director
Claud Williams - founder of Dream Nation
Sherrie Silver - dancer, teacher and philanthropost
Lethal Bizzle - musician and founder of brand Dench
Tim Abuede - barber
Sil Aneru - entrepenuer
Nana Wereko-Brobby - copywriter and founder of creative company, Social Concierge
Eric Myers - video director and co-founder of Boss Media

Mercedes Benson

‘A true Renaissance Girl’, Mercedes Benson is a social media specialist, influencer and marketer by day, and a fierce entrepreneur and DJ by night. Having worked for Adidas, Puma, BeatsbyDre, Google and more, she has established herself as a voice of authority in the industry. Her passions delve into music, fashion, youth and content creation, mastering the art of juggling the fast-paced realms of social media for brands, whilst maintaining her own personal brand.

Mercedes' nominations:

Ashley Verse - photographer
Tolani Shoneye - beauty and lifestyle writer at Buzzfeed
Debbie Shasanya - ASOS magazine coordinator
Sophia Tassew - junior art director at Ogilvy UK
Chidera Eggerue - blogger, speaker and presenter
Nicole Crentsil - curator and founder of Unmasked Women exhibtion
Bejay Mulenga - entrepreneur and founder of Supa Academy and Filli Studios
Israel Peters - video producer
Dior Bediako - founder of Pepper Your Talk
William Adoasi - founder and CEO of Vitae London

Melanie Eusebe

Melanie Eusebe has recently become the executive producer of WOW (Women of the World) festival, with the mothership event being at world-famous arts centre Southbank, and other festivals happenings around the UK. This accompanies a string of accomplishments such as the chairing the Black British Business Awards, broadcasting, lecturing and strategising transformation initiatives for leading global brands.

Melanie's nominations:

Chrissa Amuah - founder of AMWA Designs
Lenique Louis - jewellery designer
Stella Nwimo - storyteller and film producer
Adrian Grant - producer, director and writer
Dr Gus Casely-Hayford - curator and cultural historian
Misan Sagay - screen writer
Hannah Azieb Pool - journalist, curator, producer
Chi-chi Nwanoku - artistic director of Chineke!, and professor at Royal Academy of Music
Timothy Armoo - co-founder of advertising platform Fanbytes
Marc Hare - footwear designer
Jonathan Akwue - managing partners of Digitas LBI
Vanessa Kingori - publisher of British GQ & GQ Style
Kenneth Tharp - CEO and freelance arts professional

Dior Bediako

Founded by Dior Bediako, Pepper Your Talk is inspiring the next generation of fashion creatives. The organisation sets out to support its community of junior fashion creatives with honest access to information, people and events - aiming to be a ‘phy-gital’ platform whereby there is as much physical experiences offline, as there are online. Dior’s work with young people in a leadership capacity started at the age of just 14, which she followed up with a fashion degree and the genesis of Pepper Your Talk.

Dior's nominations:

Toni Blaze - senior fashion editor of Wonderland Magazine
Velma Simmons - partnerships manager at ASOS
Chloe Watts - founder of creative agency Chloe Digital
Basma Khalifa - presenter, fashion stylist and brand consultant
Abisola Omole - CEO of The Apartment Global Group
Naomi Mdudu - founder of creative platform The Lifestyle Edit
Sandra Falase - actor, artist and writer
Shannon Wright - content and talent coordinator of Mobo Awards
Shanice Mears - co founder of The Elephant Room

Abraham Asefaw

Abraham Asefaw is part of a new-era of creativity. As co-founder of The Pop Up Agency, Abraham set out to redefine the way in which we tap into creativity in business. A strong believer in the power of creativity and inclusivity, Abraham inspires not only through his work but through lecturing and speaking at the beaux-mondes of creativity such as Central Saint Martins, Hyper Island, Cannes Lions, Dubai Lynx, D&AD and more.

Abraham's nominations:

Karen Okonkwo - co-founder of diverse stock photography agency TONL
Barakat Bino Ghebrehawariat - democracy agent and entrepreneur
Ellen Elias - stylist, costume designer and art producer
Tani Brown - partnerships at BAME career advancement platform Jopwell
Zakaria A Hersi - founder of inclusion and diversity in tech network
Anthony Prince - cinematographer and creative director
Denisse Ariana Pérez - author and copywriter
Ahmed Abokor - creative designer at Innovision
Faiza Farah - founder and CEO of Third Space Media
Dara Oke - program manager at Microsoft

Karen Blackett OBE

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:

Marisa Ambersley - strategy director of MediaCom
Tolu Farinto - founder of careers platform LFA (Limitless Future Achievements)
Selma Nicholls - founder Looks Like Me and The So White Project
Jamal Edwards - founder of SB.TV
Chrissa Amuah - founder of AMWA Designs
Lawrence Lartey - creative director, senior lecturer and founder of Question Media Group
Adrian Walcott - MD at Brands With Values Co.
Anthony Vander - actor, film maker and founder of Distortion Entertainment
Joanna Hall - BBC News Producer
Michael Adeyeye - videographer

Tolu Farinto

Tolu Farinto is the founder of LFA ‘Limitless Future Achievements’ an opportunity consultation company whose philosophy centres around investing in the next generation of rising stars from disadvantaged and diverse backgrounds. Tolu is also Operations Manager at Sunshine, a next-generation entertainment company, and co-founded The Great British Diversity Experiment.

Tolu's nominations:

Anthea Agyekum - production and publishing assistant at PITCH
Mercedes Benson - social media specialist and founder of online network SocialFixt
Marian Ogokwu - director of BlackPepperPR
Myles Manyonda - Junior Strategist at HeyHuman
Fola Enifeni - planner executive at RPM Ltd
Naomi Desalegene - experience designer
Bolaji Farinto - junior creative for Chi & Partners
Patricia Odje - founder of PBelle Communications and freelance music journalist

Nene Parsotam

Nene Parsotam is an art director and co-founder of Stripes - a UK based initiative with the purpose of creating opportunities and expanding horizons for BAME individuals. Another trailblazing project of Nene’s is Vine Creatives - a branding and investment agency for the African diaspora and African focused businesses, this includes working directly with businesses to work on brand development, content strategy and visual communications.

Nene's nominations:

Akama Davies - head of brand performance AOL, and founding member of Stripes
Ade Okelarin - African portrait and conceptual photographer
Selma Nicholls - founder Looks Like Me and The So White Project
Melody Sylvester - producer of RSA London
Ade Onilude - founder of Women in Marketing
Yemi Davis - motion designer
Tori Taiwo - photographer
Neequaye Dreph Dsane - street artist
Cey Adams - visual artist
Amit Amin and Naroop Jhooti - founders of photograpy agency Amit and Naroop

Trevor Robinson OBE

Trevor Robinson OBE, creative director and founder of advertising and production agency Quiet Storm, has been at the forefront of advertising and philanthropy for over two decades. Trevor is dedicated to encouraging the creative industry to support, encourage and embrace individuals from ethnic minority backgrounds. Notably, Robinson founded ‘Create Not Hate’ in 2007, aimed at children affected by gang-related violence and knife crime, a project which recieved world-wide press.

Trevors's nominations:

Dennis Gyamfi - founder Endz2Endz
Alex Botaeng - head of Island records, Urban Division
Michael Dapper - comedian
Famalam - BBC sketch show pilot cast and writers