The GUAP Blacklist Returns, This Time…Meet The Class of 2020 Presented by GUAP & Converse All Stars
Since 2018, GUAP has released The Blacklist. A list that highlights the variety and excellence amongst young individuals who are black or of mixed black heritage. For far too long, the greatness of young black achievers has not been widely known beyond particular borders. We wanted to highlight that not only do we occupy creative spaces, but we exist in Tech, Mental health, Well-being, Sports, Education, and so much more. GUAP, as a platform, has always paved the way for championing both established and emerging talent. The BLACKLIST this year is themed ‘The Yearbook,’ and considering all of this year’s pits and peaks, we’ve chosen 30 under 30 people and platforms who have displayed innovation, resilience, class, inclusivity, and impact in their work.
It is perfectly fitting that Converse All Stars be a part of this year’s Blacklist. Throughout time, Converse’s iconic “All Star” sneakers have adopted as a means for expression around the world and across cultures; the canvas sneakers have been worn in moments of both rebellion and progress, change and creativity. Independent enough not to follow & purposeful in the progress they want to create – for themselves & their communities. All Stars dare to be bold, embrace what makes them different and have the courage to take the first step forward.In the relentless pursuit of progress, All Stars change the game so everyone can play. So we want to take this time to congratulate all those we have chosen to be on this year’s list and give an honouree shout out to all the young black talent that continues to stride in ability and confidence.
We see you.
The Blacklist is not about picking the best, nor is it about the idea of competition. The Blacklist is only about empowerment and highlighting a list of uniquely placed individuals during Black History Month. We will continue to embrace the different types of talent and platforms out there 365 days a year and route for you as you continue to smash the game!
With that being said we want to welcome you to read, share and be inspired by our #Blacklist, Class of 2020.
Aurelie Tshiama – @aurelietshiama
Aurelie Tshiama is the founder of Aurelie Tshiama Interiors as well as being a co-founder of Clamp Agency. The South London entrepreneur only started interior design in 2018. After discovering her love for interior design as a teenager, Tshiama ‘s passion, talent, and hard work has earned Tshiama a bright future in interior and sharing with the world how to do it! The young entrepreneur offers masterclasses and an e-book available to buy now. Aurelie told GUAP, “Making the impossible possible is what drives me. Being able to become the total opposite to the outcome of the environment I’ve grown up in pushes me to go hard in everything I do.”
Bethan Dadson – @bcthvn
Bethan Dadson is a graphic designer, stylist, photographer, and founder of HOEZINE. Hoezine is a digital zine that focuses on empowering and inspiring this generation and the next. It is a safe space that has been created by Dadson to break down the walls between us all—mainly focusing on the experience of marginalised communities. Bethan has created a community that is built upon creativity, self-love, and inclusive storytelling. Bethan told GUAP, “I think it’s the people around me that drive me the most. I’m surrounded by amazing and supportive friends that believe in me and my craft and encourage me to keep going when I want to give up.”
Beverley Tuofor – @tobefootwear
Beverley Tuofor is the Founder of Tobe Footwear. The first collection came out in 2018 when Beverley put her creative ideas together for the love of good quality shoes. Growing up in London, sneakers were a big part of her life. Recognizing both a challenge and an opportunity, she followed her vision of creating and sourcing unique shoes. Beverly told GUAP, “A good pair of shoes says a lot about a person- Good shoes mean good manners.” Tobe Footwear wants everybody to be able to experience the feeling of true quality-footwear while maintaining affordable prices.
Bonita Darkoh – @bonitasaph
Bonita Darkoh is a multi-disciplined award-winning digital advertising professional. Specialising in campaign strategy, optimisation, planning, and content development. Achieving a Bachelor’s and Masters in Business Management, Bonita uses her strong business acumen to create impact within her community through journalism and strategy. In addition to working in the corporate world, Bonita has founded a creative platform and Black women’s empowerment platform to showcase and celebrate marginalised groups (FYVS and WalkingBrandUK). Appointed as the first-ever President for Expedia’s Black Employee Relations Group, London, Bonita has dedicated a portion of her career to D&I since 2017. As a Diversity and Inclusion Educator and Writer, Bonita has also written for HuffPost, Blavity, featured in ForbesWomen, and collaborated with TPG. Bonita told GUAP, “From an early stage in my career, being given opportunity and accessibility has driven me to want to pass this onto generations to come. Whatever move I make in my career or life, I have to remind myself that it is bigger than me. The thought of generational success drives me; whatever I achieve, the generations to come will achieve more. Through working smart, I aim to provide knowledge, insight, and resources to ensure that others within my community are equipped to reach their full potential. “
Brian Kofi Hollingsworth – @thebkh
Brian Kofi Hollingsworth is a Graphic Designer with over 15 years of experience, creating and consulting with brands big and small over the years. From general elections in the UK and Kenya to barbershops, chefs, natural skin and hair products, live events, alcohol brands, charities, and influencers. Brian told GUAP, “Creativity, I love creating, I have so many ideas for myself and others it’d be a shame to leave them in my mind, I want to leave empty. I want to help as many people with their business and brand as possible.”
Ceebeaats – @ceebeaats
At only 17 years old, Ceebeaats is a young black female producer who co-produced Digga D’s “Woi.” The young talent gives us a lot of hope for what the music industry needs the most right now: more young and diverse talent killing it behind the scenes. Ceebeaats told GUAP, “My passion for music drives me to create and continue to make beats, as well as my aspirations, cause my dedication to motivate me to become the best I can be.”
Dami Howells – @damihow
DAMIHOW is a functional and fashionable brand dedicated to perfecting the fit and fabrics of activewear to ensure that you look good and feel comfortable. The brand is on a mission to encourage everyone to feel great through fitness without compromising on style, with activewear that crosses effortlessly into your everyday lives. Dami told GUAP, “I am driven by the need to create a better living for myself and my family. I want to create opportunities that I wasn’t able to have growing up, to help people realise their potential even in difficult times. Fitness has helped me in so many ways, that drives me to become better in every aspect of life”.
Detroit Dyer-Miller – @bydrt
Detroit Dyer-Miller is a London-based graphic designer who’s work takes you into a whole new world. Detroit told GUAP, “I am an artist, multidisciplinary designer, model, and director from NW London. I’ve been designing for over five years now, started my career by creating social media branding for friends and YouTubers when I was 14, and then moved on to creating cover artwork and visuals for my favourite musicians while building my brand using everything I had learned. Even though I’m nowhere near where I want to be yet, I aim to be able to use my journey so far as a sort of example, to show other young, talented black boys who are creatively inclined that their interests aren’t something to put on a backburner and belittle. In the next year, I want to set up something that provides people like me with the opportunities I wish I had to be able to believe in their skills and put them to use.”.
Oye 2.0 – @oye2.0
Oye 2.0 are a directing duo (cousins). Based in Milton Keynes, both boys studied in the states (Finance & Communications) and have grown up around the world, resulting in the global culture being the root of their inspiration. 2.0 pride themselves on their creativity and execution. They have worked on various projects with brands such as Adidas, Philip Plein, and BBC. In 2020 they began shooting music videos and have shot for RnB artists KVNG and Shae Universe. As they develop, they plan on venturing into Film and TV, both directing and writing.
Iman Lake – @chillforme
Iman Lake was a clear choice for The Blacklist 2020 when he released a comic book promoting his music, ranging between hip hop/rap and alternative rock. The comic has inependantly sold out the three times it’s been released and is on its way to selling out for a fourth time. The comic book Stranger Days may have initially served as an advertisement but proved the want and demand for black people’s representation in comic books. Iman told GUAP, “I’m driven by the translation of my perspective, experiences, and emotions into all forms of art. This is primarily music, but I also use the videos, comic books, paintings, and screenplays I create and collaborate on to communicate and connect with whoever takes it in. I hope to inspire and influence the next generations with my work, in the same way, the generations that have come before have influenced and inspired me”.
Iman Leila – @imanleila
Iman Leila is a PR & Influencer manager who had launched Lima Communications. This black female-owned agency takes much-needed space in the PR industry and currently represents brands like Vitae London and The Glow Pot. Iman told GUAP, “Having worked in the PR industry, across fashion and beauty for five years; I recently started my agency called Lima Communications. Some of my achievements before launching my agency was launching Lime Crime and Beauty Bakerie in Selfridges. I also helped with the launch of Fenty in Boots. Alongside now running my agency, I run a mentoring programme for black women that want to get into PR and Marketing. So You Want To has partnered with Estee Lauder, Chalk PR, Schwarzkopf, and Monty PR to give girls internships and mentoring opportunities.”
Jamelia Donaldson – @jameliaisobsessed
Jamelia Donaldson is the founder and CEO of TreasureTress — a monthly product subscription service for girls and women with kinky-curly hair and also the co-creator of The Teen Experience. This monthly workshop series offers young black women the opportunity to attend a series of personal development workshops, network with other like-minded individuals, and be inspired by mature and successful women. Workshops to date have included creating vision boards and discussions about self-care. Donaldson told GUAP, “I desire to help create a world where black women and girls are equipped to win. Normalising natural hair and making quality products accessible is only one piece of the puzzle. It’s how discovering and celebrating our beauty brings black women together, which allows for the real work, valuable conversations/connections, and change to happen. This drives me.”
Jojo Sonubi – @theresnosignal
No Signal was a station born out of a global pandemic. Before Covid:19 restriction measures, Jojo Sonubi and his brother David were well known amongst their peers for creating the Recess Parties. However, when events such as this were cancelled due to lockdown. Jojo Sonubi began a live stream that would become a new and top-rated media event, known as No Signal, which features a collaboration of young DJs, presenters, and curators brought together by Jojo Sonubi. During a year that has hit the events industry incredibly hard, Jojo has proven the cultural impact music has on society right now and the importance of it. Jojo told GUAP, “I’d say I love turning dreams into reality. I’m driven by the challenge to turn these dreams into things that’ll last for a long time”.
Josh Akapo – @archtypeuk
Josh Akapo is the co-founder (leading accounts & strategy) of creative agency archtype – moving at the pace of culture in merch, design, and digital – helping facilitate impactful moments for Lovebox Festival, Stormzy, DLT, and more. Josh does innovative research & insights at Hype Collective, a student marketing agency that works with brands like Co-op, Adobe, and Monster. Josh is also a part of youth mentoring not-for-profit Joined-Up Thinking as their comms & marketing director. He’s helped curate projects helping young Black people to stand out and reach their potential, working with NHS Blood & Transplant, 23red agency, and local authorities. Josh cares deeply about the advancement of young people and showcasing important moments coming from culture. Josh told GUAP, “My purpose drives me, and that is simply put as “to help people.” It’s that simple; with everything I do, whether it be helping roll out a mentoring programme at Hype Collective, raising awareness about Organ Donation, or showcasing marginalised voices with Joined-Up Thinking. I love seeing people I’ve mentored, plugged, connected, or helped in any way do well. Their talent and success drive me to do the same thing again and again.”
Kia Commodore – @penniestopoundspod
Kia Commodore is the Pennies to Pounds platform’s creator, a social media-based platform seeking to make financial literacy easy and understandable. Pennies to Pounds was created to empower people by enabling them to shape their future with complete knowledge of how to do it. Kia is a very insightful and impactful voice in the finance space, steering young people in the direction of having more control over their finances. Kia told GUAP, “What drives me is the desire to learn and improve constantly. I am always working to improve my skills and help others in ways that best suit them. My idea of success is constantly evolving, and I love the growth journey that I’m currently on”.
Lavinya Stennett – @theblackcurriculum
Lavinya Stennett is an educational activist, writer/historian and the founder and CEO The Black Curriculum. Lavinya told GUAP “I am driven by my own educational experiences, to help create a world that empowers every individual to have a fuller sense of self and identity”.
Loriane Mbayo – @oilozz
Founded and created by Loriane Mbayo, Woman to Woman is a female-led digital media platform that has been created to beautifully and truthfully narrate the stories of women. By creating a safe space for conscious conversation, Woman to Woman connects women from all of the world. After only five years after its start-up, Loriane Mbayo and her entrepreneurial and creative team have created a platform and thriving community that produces events, online discussions, podcasts, and articles on topics that deserve to have a center stage in popular conversation. Loriane told GUAP, “I think what drives is women’s success, seeing women celebrating their wins gives me an oomph to continue grinding and serving and growing my platform even on days when I can’t be bothered to keep going. My faith in God also drives, because I can do all things through Christ, I also have the most amazing friends and people around me that are doing exceptionally well that keep me unknowingly accountable for everything I do”.
Lotanna Ezeike – @lottsxpo
Lotanna Ezeike is the founder of XPO. Lotanna told GUAP, “At XPO, we’re building an ad exchange for the creator economy. A platform where brands bid for ad space on an influencer’s profile. We realised most platforms solely benefit brands. This isn’t right. We aim to be the voice for creators globally. Personally, I’m doing what Billy Mcfarland couldn’t”.
Melz Owusu – @freeblackuni
Melz Owusu is the founder of the Free Black University, a project that aims to decolonise education and redistribute knowledge, centring Black students, and a curriculum that reflects them. Once established, the Free Black University will deliver open-access online lectures, provide radical Black books to the community, establish a mental health service for Black students, build an online library, launch a podcast, and more. Melz told GUAP, “I am driven by possibility. Knowing that Black people across the world deserve so much more, recognising that as a society we could live in ways completely disparate from how we function today. Recognising beyond capitalism, prisons, monarchies, and governments is a real and tangible possibility. All that does and has oppressed our people can and shall fall. We need to be the revolution we long to see, and so that knowing drives me”.
Mistura Yusuf – @misemi
Mistura Yusuf is a London based self-taught freelance digital designer/ junior UX/UI designer and founder of Misemi. She started Misemi in 2014 as a passion project and creative outlet while studying Architecture at university. Misemi specialises in sublimation printed pieces and upcycling/ reworking of pre-loved garments, which are all handmade in London by herself. Misemi opened its first concession in Atika, Brick Lane in July 2019, followed by a second concession in Bidhaar, Peckham in October 2019. Misemi’s clothes have been featured on celebrities such as Lethal Bizzle, Mahalia, Julie Adenuga, Mr. Eazi, Raye & Alicai Harley. Mistura told GUAP, “Other people’s belief in me drives me. Sometimes when I feel demotivated, I’m recharged by my family and how much they want me to succeed. Even people that message me or and tell me they love Misemi or are inspired by what they’ve seen makes all the difference and makes me want to keep going.”
Nicky Mbenza & David Djema – @repatch_
Founded by Nicky Mbenza & David Djema, Repatch is a service that offers a quick, easy, and reliable repair service that makes fixing your broken devices as easy as ordering a pizza. Repatch is THE go-to service for broken devices and are a company that offers a unique customer led service that is refreshing to see in tech. The dynamic duo is the future of tech innovation, and the business is 100% ran and owned by the dynamic duo. Nicky and David told GUAP, “We are great friends, and that is the cornerstone of what makes Repatch work so well. Our personalities and skills work very well together as we balance each other out. Nicky is an Arsenal fan, which means you know he has patience and a sense of humour. Nicky is great with people and the operational side of things and is obsessed with creating an exceptional customer experience.”
Rebecca Tembo – @Rebeccatemboofficial
Founded by Rebecca Tembo, Rebecca Tembo Official is a luxury womenswear brand committed to delivering sophisticated, empowering jumpsuits. Creating pieces right in the heart of London, Tembo prides herself on using sustainable methods to create her designs. All while creating a memorable experience for her clients. Rebecca told GUAP, “I’m driven by the woman I’m becoming! I’m very ambitious and have a clear vision for my future in the sense of my career, the impact I’d like to have, and who I am at my core. I understand to achieve what I want. I have to act accordingly now. It excites me knowing that every day as I show up and step into this career-driven, charismatic, empathetic, high-achieving woman, I’m becoming her.”
Ruth Mwandumba – @RuthMwandumba
Ruth Mwandumba discovered her love for shooting when she was only 13 at an Army cadet camp. And after learning that her love could be explored further in University, Ruth enrolled at the University of East London, where she became a regular at the Stoke Exchange Rifle Club. At 22 years old, she was crowned English Champion and has now set her sights on the Paris 2024 Olympics. Ruth Mwandumba’s courage to follow her dreams in a space that is not welcoming of her being the only black competitive target shooter in the UK has proven her strength. Ruth has our full support on her endeavours and we will be rooting for her come 2024. Ruth told GUAP, “I was the first black female athlete to represent the country and be crowned English Champion in 2018. I won a gold, silver, and bronze medal in the Commonwealth Shooting Championships (ED) that were held in Northern Ireland that same year, and my ultimate goal is to represent Great Britain at the Olympic Games (hopefully Paris 2024!) My aim within my sport is to not only be the best athlete that I can be but to be an ambassador and role model within the British Shooting community, and hopefully, I can work to inspire young black people to get involved in the sport.”
Scully (Jason Kavuma) – @isthatscully
Scully is a presenter & producer, working on screen and off it, on the mic and behind it, to use his pop culture knowledge, socio-political interests, and natural curiosity to ask questions that allow his audience to have new thought patterns. Coming straight off a busy summer, where he helped bring to life the exciting new hub of Black media we know as No Signal, he consults for a number of music labels, brands and the like, giving his perspective in an effort to show the merit in the culture we know and love. On top of that, he spends the rest of his time presenting in sport and music, for Arsenal, Copa90 & many more! Working as a Co-Head of Production at No Signal, he’s doing all he can to represent young, black British experience as authentically as he can. Scully told GUAP, “The want to represent and authentically represent voices which need to be heard or have a perspective that isn’t often shared is what drives me. Through communication and understanding of cultures, we begin to reveal more about the human condition, and it’s only through this, we advance as a society.”
Sheniece Charway – @sheniececharway
It was only four years ago that Sheniece started her journey in the music industry as an intern to now become one of the most influential people in UK music. Having worked directly with artists like Skepta, Tiwa Savage, and Stefflon Don. The YouTube Music’s Artist Relations Manager takes much-needed space in the male-dominated industry. Sheniece Charway is the embodiment of when hard work meets opportunity, making her a clear choice for The Blacklist 2020. Sheniece told GUAP, “I am very passionate about the music industry and continue to ensure that all artists, executives, and managers’ voices are heard! More than ever, it is important that we uplift artists and their voices!”
Shomi Williams – @lafiyahealth
Lafiya Health was founded by a therapist and mental health advocator, Shomi Williams. Lafiya Health is your new go-to health hub for education, information, and queries that you may have about anything health-related. Lafiya Health explores mental health through articles and advice written by (or with the consultation of) trained/trainee professionals, enthusiasts, or experienced people that are keen to help. Shomi told GUAP, “I am driven by knowledge, there’s always more to know and it’s one of those things that you can gain more of by sharing. The more knowledge I acquire, the more inspired and fulfilled I feel. I also get enraged by how a lack of knowledge can cost lives, so I see it as a moral obligation to stay well informed and to help knowledge to be more accessible to others“.
Tarique Kareem Al-Shabazz – @seriqueofficial
Tarique Al-Shabazz is an artist based in East London who explores sex and intimacy in his artwork. He believes sex in the art world is misrepresented. He uses sex/intimacy as a form of communication rather than only caring about the aesthetic. Tarique told GUAP, “My responsibility, our responsibility. I believe we all have a responsibility to positively impact those around us and promote inclusivity through our behaviours. For me, I use my art as my contribution. I think sexual self-expression is such a taboo practice, especially within the black community. I want my art to encourage self-expression and the exploration of others without fear of judgement.”
Twiggy Jalloh -@TwiggyJalloh
Twiggy Jalloh is a young and honest voice that is writing for British Vogue. From beauty to lifestyle, Jalloh understands that every story is unique and beautifully writes the account of those who may not have felt represented in publications as iconic as British Vogue. From sharing her personal experience to what it was like returning to Sierra Leone for the first time at 25. Or speaking to black/mixed Vogue staffers about their relationship with their natural hair. Jalloh is the much-needed voice of beauty & lifestyle journalism that is unafraid to be true to women’s experience in underrepresented communities simply. We are confident of Jalloh’s bright future and look forward to seeing the amazing things she will do next. Twiggy told GUAP, “There was a 1 in 400 trillion chance of me being born, existing Black womxn in this world, the sacrifices my parents made for me, witnessing real change happen around me, the love of my friends, the healing spirit of my partner, the work of the Black activists before me, knowing that life is wonderful but short.”
Twos Twos Podcast – @twotwospodcast
Best friend duo; Rose Frimpong and Nana Duncan created twostwospodcast when looking for representation in mainstream media. They wanted to let the world know that the queer experience was an incredibly diverse one and wanted their platform to discuss topics around bisexuality, starting a family in a same-sex couple, being gay and Muslim, and interracial lesbian couples. The show has become a safe space for those in the LGBTQ+ community to connect. With every episode, the podcast grows in popularity for its ability to inform, educate, and entertain. The duo told GUAP, “We are driven by people in the LGBT community; we know that representation is extremely important in the journey to self-validation. By creating our platform, we have been able to create a safe space for members of the community to be themselves once a week for an hour and a half. They can listen to Two Twos Podcast and be just that; themselves”.
Wendy Asumadu – @wendysworld_xox
Wendy Asumadu’s world is colorful, experimental, and free. She uses her face and body as a canvas to create expressive and abstract paintings. She has worked with the likes of Converse, ASOS, Glossier, LUSH, Makeup Revolution, and more, where she uses her experience in fine art to question the process of makeup and the definition of beauty. Wendy, this year founded EditorialBLK, which aims to create better visibility and a real opportunity for black editorial and avant-garde artists all over the world. Wendy told GUAP, “Knowing that I can make a change drives me to do better. I have always been a motivated person, and art has been my passion from a young age. So when the two are combined, my desire to create and question the world pushes me to break the standards and barriers that have supposedly been set.”
Check out the GUAP Arts & Culture section, to discover new art, film, and creative individuals.