Joy’s diverse career covers journalism, policy development, academia, literature, digital enterprise, curation, production, film, PR and creative entrepreneurship, both here and abroad. She is co-founder and lead of Digital Women UK which facilitates female creatives, emerging and established entrepreneurs and women in tech to fully engage with digital entrepreneurship, run in partnership with entrepreneurship academic Dr Angela Martinez Dy and Loughborough University of London.
A longstanding campaigner on mental health and wellbeing, and for inclusion in media and publishing, Joy is co-founder and co-director of the award-winning Synergi Collaborative Centre, developed in partnership with the University of Manchester, Queen Mary, University of London and the University of Oxford, to transform ethnic inequalities in severe mental illness through science, co-creation, collaborative leadership and creativity.
Joy also worked with the Media Diversity Institute to create the world’s first Diversity and the Media MA at the University of Westminster in 2013 and along with renowned virologist and international development specialist Dr Sheila Ochugboju, she co-founded the world’s first African Science Cafes for the British Council Southern Africa which was then adapted for Kenya. She was also the inaugural project manager for the Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowships (in an independent capacity).
Joy is one of Eastside Community Heritage’s ‘Woman of Colour Trailblazer’ 2019, and she was selected for the UK’s first Museum of Colour’s People of Letters Digital Gallery 2019 as a literature influencer, alongside literary legends such as Bernardine Evaristo and Margaret Busby.
Suzanne is a Psychosynthesis therapeutic counsellor, personal development coach and social change agent with a particular interest in empowering women and people of colour. Suzanne has worked in the health and social sector for nearly 40 years in a variety of roles, including as a social worker, care services manager, social work educator, a former director of a public involvement charity and trustee of a counselling charity. She has experience of group work and community building. Her personal background led her to explore the interplay between the individual, groups and society, and she is very active in new approaches to inclusion, equalities and personal empowerment. She has written practice guides for the Department of Health and facilitated personal development programmes. Suzanne is developing work in the field of conscious ageing and is responsible for Word of Colour’s Creative Wellbeing Hub.
Adrianne has been with Words of Colour for six years. A photographer and award-winning videographer, she is also the founder of AMC Media, a London-based company specialising in studio and event photography and videography. A former art student at the University of the Creative Arts and Central Saint Martins, she has since worked on a number of high profile projects, including Time to Change, the national anti stigma mental health campaign, Queen Mary University of London’s national policy initiatives on public health as well as a camera operator for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. She was part of the production team of the critically acclaimed documentary, On the Ground at Grenfell, which won the Portobello Film Festival 2017 Best Film Award.
Milos is an award-winning graphic designer with 13 years professional experience. He has worked for some of Serbia’s most prominent marketing and advertising companies, including Ovation BBDO, Trilenium, and Mosaic. His portfolio includes a variety of projects, from advertising campaigns and brand identity to brochure, book and packaging design for companies such as Bauer, Fujitsu/Siemens and VIP Mobile. His passion for design was sparked early on in childhood when he started drawing. Milos’ love for art shaped his creative interests, which later translated into a passion for graphic design. After graduating with a degree in Graphic Design from the University of Belgrade in 2005, he entered the field of web design and 3D modeling and rendering. Before joining the Words of Colour team in 2012, he worked in London as a freelance designer. For Words of Colour, he has developed brand identities for a range of clients including Time to Change, Aik Saath and Spread the Word’s Young People’s Laureate programme.
Angela is a lecturer and researcher at the Glendonbrook Institute for Enterprise Development, University of Loughborough London. She received her MSc in Entrepreneurship in 2010 and PhD in 2015 from Nottingham University Business School. Originally from Seattle, she is the co-founder and former director of Youth Speaks Seattle, the city’s premier youth creative writing and performance organisation. Her research interests include entrepreneurship, the Internet, digital technologies and online environments, gender, feminism, critical race studies and philosophy. Angela works closely with Joy Francis on Digital Women UK’s impactful Missing in Action programme. She recently won the Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship Global Award for the Best Conference Paper in Paris, entitled Not as easy as it looks: Digital entrepreneurship, the great leveller? Find out more about Angela’s research.
Ahsan has worked with Words of Colour since 2009. A multidisciplinary designer specialising in Sustainable Design, Ahsan worked with the Design Council and Futerra, where he applied participatory design methods for social innovation. Through Design Thinking, his career intertwines in product, service, graphic, web and UX design. His collaborative work has focused on design for good, creating real value through strategic solutions for positive social and environmental impact. Co-founder of Climate Labs, his current projects focus on behaviour change around nature engagement for children, connecting local communities with empathy for biodiversity. He is also exploring the impact of air pollution around schools and the workplace by developing interventions that can be applied for better health and wellbeing. Ahsan has a BSc Hons in Product Design and MA in Sustainable Design with Distinction, where he was commended with a studentship from Kingston University.
Mike joined the team in 2015 and leads on all the internal web design projects. After graduating with a BSc in Multimedia Technology and Design, Mike spent his first few years working at a digital agency, learning and gaining vital experience. Shortly after, Mike decided to pursue a freelance career and has been a part of a range of projects including leading the development of Talk Changes – an NHS initiative improving access to psychological therapies in City and Hackney, the rebranding of Hackney CVS and, most recently, working on several international design sprints, focusing on business innovation and development.
Lee has been with Words of Colour since 2009. He specialises in documentary and portrait photography, working primarily with third sector organisations both as a photographer and a workshop facilitator. He is passionate about promoting photography as an art form and is heavily focused on making it accessible to everyone. As a result, he founded both Lenses of Croydon, a photography group with in excess of 500 members, and the Croydon Photography Forum, which serves to create a platform for aspiring photographers to hear from practising professionals. Lee is a graduate of the University of Technology, Jamaica, and he has just completed a BA Hons degree in Photography at the University of Westminster.
Jennifer maintains all of Words of Colour’s digital platforms and facilitates and co-creates engaging digital campaigns for clients and partners. Jennifer has a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and Journalism, and recently completed her Masters in Screenwriting at London College of Communication, University of the Arts. Prior to joining Words of Colour she worked as One World Media’s Digital Communications Officer – leading on website maintenance and social media strategy. A Creative Access alumna, volunteer camera operator, poet and writer, she is passionate about championing unheard, authentic stories from misrepresented communities.
Sailesh is the founder and editor of asianculturevulture.com, an online arts and culture magazine which primarily serves the UK Asian community. He has been an editor for more than a decade and prior to ACV he was the editor of Eastern Eye newspaper. Sailesh started his career on regional titles and has had his work (including a front-page exclusive) published in The Independent and the Observer. He also writes creatively. His debut novel, Asian Triangle, was shortlisted for a literary prize in Scotland in the early 1990s. He has a degree from the London School of Economics (BSc Econ) and an MA in European Philosophy from the University of Sussex.
Alex spent most of his childhood in social services care. He published his first novel, Brixton Rock, to critical acclaim in 1999. Specialising in adult fiction, Alex went on to write many more books such as East of Acre Lane, Brenton Brown, the sequel to Brixton Rock, and was awarded an MBE for services to literature in 2008. Alex’s first young adult novel Liccle Bit, published in March 2015, was longlisted for the Carnegie Medal 2015. Crongton Knights, Liccle Bit’s sequel, was published in March 2016 won The Guardian’s Children’s Fiction Prize 2016 and the Renaissance Quiz Writers’ Choice Award, and was shortlisted for the Bookseller Young Adult Prize 2017. Alex is a longtime supporter of and adviser to Words of Colour and will be co-hosting the Words of Colour Showcase, to be launched in the Autumn 2018.
As well as being our reviews editor, Cherise is commissioning editor for Tate Children’s and editor at large for Jacaranda Publishing. Cherise is a biracial editor/activist/writer who hails from California and is now based in London. She earned a Law degree from Durham University, with a focus on international human rights, and a Masters in Publishing from UCL, with a focus on diversity in children’s literature. Cherise is also an artist and co-founder of Desert Rose Literary Magazine, an intersectional feminist literary magazine publishing poetry, short fiction, and essays by women of color and members of the LGBTQA+ community. She loves to spend her free time charcoaling portraits, twanging banjos, swerving longboards and defending the literary value of puns.
Shameika Byfield is a multifaceted entrepreneur with a passion for numbers. Shameika has a 1st class BA (Hons) degree and an MSC in Business and Finance. She has single-handedly built her accounting business while also providing invaluable support to other startups.
Shameika has a wealth of experience in accounting, finance and business management in a variety of industries. A modern-day businesswoman, her practice reflects the agile philosophy. She is MD of Shy Figures Ltd and sits on the board for numerous community groups and not-for-profit organisations. Shameika has collaborated with Words of Colour Productions for two years and delivered a highly praised finance surgery for creatives and writer as part of our Creative Response to Covid-19 programme for writers and creatives of colour. She also enjoys teaching and has collaborated with various universities and training providers to deliver workshops and finance programmes across the UK, including for an incubator project at UAL. Her long-term vision is to improve financial literacy for all.
Fatema is Words of Colour’s Content Editor, maintaining and creating content for Words of Colour digital platforms, for its in-house project, Digital Women UK and for partner project, Synergi Collaborative Centre.
Fatema has over 8 years’ experience of branding and communications in the creative sector. She currently works with a host of organisations, including arts, mental health and education organisations, consulting them on their branding and marketing strategies and producing digital content around their projects. Fatema has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with Biosciences and went on to read Persian Language, Middle Eastern Art and Literature at the School of Oriental and African Studies.
In a career that spans 30 years, Patsy has worked in both the book and magazine publishing industries as an editor, writer and creative development coach. During this time she worked as the commissioning editor at Tamarind, the Random House imprint specialising in the publication of multicultural books for children, as a journalist on national women’s weekly magazines such as Woman, Best and Closer, and as a writer advice coach at Spread the Word. She is also a corporate training consultant and offers support and training in media, communications and editorial skills. For much of her career she has also practised Yoga and meditation to exercise her physical body, cope with stress and to tap into her inner creativity. Four years ago, she turned this passion into a qualification and is now a practising Kundalini Yoga teacher, with a particular interest in breath work. A longstanding Words of Colour collaborator, she is now part of its Creative Wellbeing Hub core team.
Jackee has an MA in Creative Writing and Personal Development from Sussex University and a post-graduate diploma in executive coaching from Lancaster University. She has written and published three books, 49 Ways To Write Yourself Well: The Science and Wisdom of Writing and Journaling, Be Your Own Best Life Coach: Take Charge and Live The Life You’ve Always Wanted and her first book, Soul Purpose: Self Affirming Rituals, Mediations and Creative Exercises To Revive Your Spirit. She recently published a Writing With Fabulous Trees Writing Map through a commission from Writing Maps. Jackee has also authored several e-books including, The Journal Journey Guidebook containing over 100 journal writing prompts. Her last two print books have been published in Croatia, Malaysia, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. She teaches creative writing workshops and retreats in the UK and internationally, including a yearly writing retreat in Greece. She also works in the corporate sector as an executive and leadership coach. A longstanding Words of Colour collaborator, Jackee is a Creative Wellbeing Hub facilitator.
Jacob’s collection Breaking Silence (Bloodaxe) was shortlisted for a Forward Poetry Prize and an Aldeburgh Fenton Award, and is a set text for an English Language and Literature A Level (OCR/EMC). Responsible for the Barbican Young Poets programme and Spoken Word Educators (Goldsmiths University), he is widely recognised as an indefatigable supporter of young and emerging writers. His poetry has explored and experimented with Black-British/African-Caribbean culture, ritual and tradition, hybridity, coding and other aspects of popular culture. His poems and essays have featured in Ploughshares, Wasafiri, In Their Own Words (Salt, 2012), Poetry by Heart (Penguin, 2014) and more. He has produced commissioned work for such institutions as the National Gallery, the BBC and Nitro (Black Music Theatre Co-Operative). His practice also includes cross-disciplinary collaboration, exploring the possibilities for poetic text with technology, physical theatre and conceptual art. Jacob is advising on a number of Words of Colour’s projects, including The Black Love Project and the Creative Wellbeing Hub, and helping to shape our creative entrepreneurship model.
Kenny came from dramatic beginnings: death threats, refugee camps, paternal abandonment, maternal enmeshment, mental / emotional / spiritual health issues and racism.
“I’ve worked with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, I’ve sat in ceremony with the elders in Fiji, joined the jet-set island-hoppers …and annoyingly noticed that wherever I went, life showed me where I was stuck. So I sat with my shadows, unraveled my knot, released my depressed pause buttons and unlearned my limits. I love to share my tools to empower others to set themselves, their families and ancestors free to live creatively, authentically and purposefully.”
Kenny has held personal development groups for 20 years, every day since lockdown, with his How To ebook hitting the Amazon No. 1 best seller list on launch – now an accredited course. His private sessions are intense, his workshops enlightening and interviews raw and revealing.
Aretha has spent over a decade working in the creative industries. She is the co-founder of Gingerland, a brand and communications agency where she provides consulting services to a variety of businesses and charities looking to develop their online presence, or increase brand awareness. Some of its clients have included disaster relief agency ADRA, Helix Property Advisors, Lemsip and Virgin Media. With an MA in Design and Branding Strategy, Aretha is excited to bring her creativity and strategic insights to support the Words of Colour vision in the role of brand and merchandise consultant.
Nylah originally joined Words of Colour Productions in 2015 as our social media coordinator and events assistant. Nylah left at the beginning of 2018 and now collaborates with us as an assistant videographer. She has worked on a variety of projects for Words of Colour, such as our In conversation… series, The Black Love Project and Digital Women UK. Having graduated from King’s College London in 2016 with a BA in English Language and Linguistics, Nylah has always been interested in words, their impact and how they shape narratives. She is currently working at the Muslim television station MTA International where she is involved at all levels of production. She also runs Nylah Media, a production company focusing on Asian heritage weddings.
DJ Chillz is a DJ/Producer, one of the few women on the circuit. A collaborator on Digital Women UK’s Missing in Action initiative, Chillz is passionate about raising the profile of women DJs and transitioning them to digital. Her weekly radio show Eclectic Sounds, features on both New Life Radio (UK) and Dash Radio (Los Angeles and New York). Her Afrobeats podcast for Radar Radio and original mixes, have attracted industry praise. Chillz regularly features at major festivals, including Wireless, Outlook, & Boom Bap, and has also performed at huge streetwear fashion events such as New Balance X Heidi Klum. She has a London residency at Bootylicious and her own weekly Friday event, Riddim Nights, in Croydon. Chillz has been nominated three times for the Best Female DJ Award, and her first outing as producer was on her debut single Power, which tore through clubland in 2017. Chillz is collaborating with Digital Women UK on a new project for women DJs.
London-born Damien Swaby is a former Performing Arts student who discovered that his true love was filmmaking. An entrepreneurial and innovative filmmaker, Damien’s films, which often focus on social issues, have been featured in over 25 film festivals, with screenings in London, San Diego, Lisbon, South Africa, Birmingham, Staffordshire, Reykjavik, Sacramento, Brighton, among others. He is also the host and creator of The Filmmakers Podcast presented by Damien Swaby. Some of his guests have included ‘When They See Us’ screenwriter Michael Starrbury, Anna Bressanin, the award-winning filmmaker and Multimedia Editor for the BBC, Cynda Williams, who is known for acting in Spike Lee’s 1990 film ‘Mo’ Better Blues’, Randy Williams, the Emmy award-winning editor, Benjamin Casias, a Steadicam Operator who has worked with Ryan Coogler and Barry Jenkins and Bill Duke who directed ‘Sister Act 2’ and appeared in ‘Predator’, ‘Menace To Society’ and ‘Car Wash’.
Junia is a freelance filmmaker and videographer whose career is committed to making the stories and voices of marginalised and ignored people heard. She has nine years’ experience across formats, from fiction films to branded content, both in the UK and abroad, and is currently working on a social media platform to provide a space exclusively for the work of Black British creatives. She has spent almost half of the current decade living and travelling abroad, including three years travelling through Latin America. Junia also has a degree in Sociology from City University London.
Barbara was born in the East End of London to Nigerian parents. She currently works as a policy and strategy officer at a South London local authority, drafting business policies and strategies. A single parent Barbara loves modern fiction with a twist in the tale and describes reading as her version of feasting on a tin of Quality Street – without the accompanying weight gain. Barbara has been reviewing books on and off for Words of Colour since 2016 and started reviewing after enjoying the lively debates at London’s only Afro-Caribbean book club.
Reshma is a novelist, short story writer and poet. Her first novel, Something Black in the Lentil Soup was described in the Sunday Times as “a gem of straight-faced comedy”. Her second novel, A Mouthful of Silence, was shortlisted for the 2014 SI Leeds Literary Prize. Her short stories and poems have appeared in international anthologies and magazines and commissioned for BBC Radio 4. She is the co-founder of The Whole Kahani, a writers’ collective of British South Asian writers. Reshma’s writing explores the inherent preoccupations of those who possess a multiple sense of belonging. Reshma returns to writing reviews for Words of Colour after a two year hiatus.
Chama Kay is a theatre blogger and podcaster as one half of Artistic State of Mind, alongside Juliana Ayeni-Stevens. He is passionate about supporting theatre created by and starring black talent. A marketing professional, Chama has previously worked for the Olivier Award nominated company Les Enfants Terribles and The Churchill Theatre in Bromley. Chama is also a mental health workshop facilitator, focusing on mental health issues affecting black people and people working in the arts. He has run workshops at Cambridge University, SOAS, UCL, The Vaults and London’s Fashion and Textile Museum.
Tamera is an alumnus of Winchester University, where she studied Fashion, Media and Marketing. Upon graduating, Tamera started working as a digital content assistant for Primark, alongside theatre reviewing for Words of Colour and volunteering as a youth mentor. She is currently hosting a podcast focused on mental health in the creative industry for Alpha Omega London’s Fashion Vanguards series, which aims to open minds and ignite conversations. Tamera is also working on her own projects focusing on storytelling through photography and words.
Briana joins Words of Colour as a recent transplant from California, USA, where she spent the last six years working to diversify the tech scene in Silicon Valley. She is a graduate of the illustrious Howard University in Washington D.C with a B.A in History. Since a little girl, she has had a passion for the arts. Growing up in Chicago to a single parent, books became her outlet. Reading James Baldwin’s Fire Next Time opened her eyes to the black experience in a deeper way, and how she as a black woman could impact those around her.
Now that she lives in London, she hopes to continue to find creative outlets where her voice can be heard and where she can lift up the voices of other artists of colour looking to make a difference.
Tricia is book addict who loves books and bookshops in all forms. She is co-founder of Black Book Swap, the lively literary event has been celebrating the work of black authors through interviews and book exchanges since 2012. Tricia has been the co-ordinator of the Black Reading Group book club since 2011, selecting, reading and discussing books with a wide range of book lovers the last Sunday of each month, 10 months a year. Tricia is a chartered marketer, working in the not-for-profit sector.