It is imperative to discuss the recent events happening around the world and in particular in the United States right now. We hope to be able to educate our followers to listen, read and support the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
Here we feature 10 incredibly influential women of colour, from different industries, who have all had to fight racial (and sexual) inequality to get to where they are today.
Read on to be inspired!
TALK-SHOW HOST: OPRAH WINFREY
This list could not be written without including the amazing Oprah Winfrey a.k.a one of the most well-known women in the Entertainment business and one of the most powerful and influential women in the world. EMPOWERING is what comes to mind when we think of Oprah. Despite making history countless times, her beginnings were not as easy as one may expect. Born into rural poverty in Mississippi to a teenage single mother reportedly attending school in a dress made from potato sacks, Oprah’s life was a challenge from the offset. She was raped by three different family members and fell pregnant at 14 years-old. However, her unfortunate childhood did not stop her from excelling at school. Her hard work and natural talent in speech and drama led her to win a scholarship at University, later dropping out when she was offered a job which, without knowing at the time, would kickstart her on-screen career. She has since made millions of people around the world laugh, cry and feel hopeful and most importantly, she gave people a voice. We all need an Oprah, someone to tell us to pursue our wildest dreams no matter how crazy they may seem- don’t hold back!
“The great courageous act that we must all do, is to have the courage to step out of our history and past so that we can live our dreams”
POP STAR: LIZZO
One of the most talked about women at the moment known for her extravagant style, fun-loving personality and empowering tunes. Lizzo had a rough ride growing up. Her father passed away when she was 21 years-old; she wound up broke, homeless and alone struggling both as a musician and mentally. She continued to pursue music trying everything in her power to do what she loved for a living and her dreams came true. From classical musician to rap sensation, Lizzo has broken all the out-dated moulds in society. Her music is made for everyone regardless of race, size, gender, skin colour or age, she hopes to empower all through her music and her presence no matter how they define themselves. She took the music industry by storm gaining media attention due to her vibrant personality and style becoming not only a music icon but a fashion icon too! Lizzo is one of our spirit animals for sure, her positivity and aroma is infectious. Whenever you are getting ready for a night out with the girls or having a down day, pop her music on and let your problems go because 9 out of 10 times those problems will be irrational ones! (Some of our fave songs are Truth Hurts and Juice).
“Twenty-some-odd years of me believing that one day I can wake up and be some other girl. It’s like, you’re not gonna wake up and be bigger or smaller or lighter or darker; your hair’s not gonna suddenly grow down past your knees. You’re going to look this way for the rest of your life. And you have to be OK with that”
FORMER FIRST LADY: MICHELLE OBAMA
Michelle Obama was the first ever African-American First Lady. She made sure to use her power for good, to support and inspire people across the nation and set up multiple charities and organisations including; Let’s Move! an organisation bringing together professionals from different specialities to address the challenge of childhood obesity. As well as this, Reach Higher aims to inspire young people to take charge of their future through education after high school and Let Girls Learn helps support girls around the world, encouraging them to stay in school, calling on countries around the world to empower and educate young women. She more recently published an autobiography called ‘Becoming’ which was then followed-up by a Netflix Documentary launched this year. Michelle Obama is a powerhouse. She represents strength, intelligence, integrity and her popularity cannot be minimised.
“Every day, you have the power to choose out better history – by opening your hearts and minds, by speaking up for what you know is right.”
ACTRESS: LUPITA NYONG’O
Mexican born Kenyan actress Lupita has taken the movie industry by storm, becoming one of the most in-demand actresses in Hollywood according to Insider. In 2013 she appeared on our screens playing Patsey in ’12 Years a Slave’ (her first ever feature film) and went on to win an Oscar for best supporting actress. Prior to this she had filmed, produced and directed her own documentary called ‘In My Genes’ in 2009. Just as Lupita made a lasting impact on the film industry she turned her talent to Broadway where she performed in hit production ‘Play’ winning a Tony award for best leading actress. Following this she became the first ever black ambassador for top cosmetic brand Lancome and wrote her own children’s book. Inspiring, talented and pure, Lupita has inspired so many people around the world and it’s hard to keep up with the amount she has achieved so far and we are sure that this is only the beginning.
“I hope that my presence on your screens and in the magazines may lead you, young girl, on a similar journey. That you will feel the validation of your external beauty but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside.”
SUPER MODEL: WINNIE HARLOW
If you are interested in fashion you are bound to have come across this super model. She walks on the catwalks of some of the biggest names in the business and has appeared on heaps of magazine covers across the globe. Life before making it big in the modelling world wasn’t as smooth sailing as one would expect for Winnie. Having been diagnosed with vitiligo at the age of 4 was continuously bullied throughout school making her feel incredibly self conscious in her own skin. However, she since began to embrace her body empowering people to realise that their differences don’t make them who they are. Again and again you will find her refuting the outdated understanding that one single beauty standard exists, something we all need to hear! Her career started out on Cycle 21 of America’s Next Top Model thanks to icon Tyra Banks. Since then she has revolutionised the world of fashion breaking the mould one campaign at a time.
“I am the underdog, and I want to prove that one can follow one’s dreams despite all the flaws and setbacks.”
ARTIST: KARA WALKER
New York based artist Kara Walker specialises in contemporary painting, silhouettes, print-making, installations and film-making facing real life issues of race, gender, sexuality, violence and identity in her work. At the fruitful age of 28 years-old she became the youngest ever recipient to receive a MacArthur Fellowship for her talent in the field. Her hard-hitting masterpieces spark much needed conversation on topics that confront the ugliness of the world whether that be by critically reflecting on the past or illuminating contemporary debate. She has become a huge name in the art world featured in galleries and museums such as the Guggenheim, the MOMA and the Tate. The saying ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ definitely rings true with Kara’s breathtaking artwork. If you haven’t heard of Kara already please google her, listen to what she has to say and look at her artwork- it is truly astonishing and so so so powerful.
“I didn’t want a completely passive viewer. Art means too much to me. To be able to articulate something visually is really an important thing. I wanted to make work where the viewer wouldn’t walk away; he would giggle nervously, get pulled into history, into fiction, into something totally demeaning and possibly very beautiful.”
ACTIVIST: SIMONE SPENCE
Founder and CEO of ‘Don’t Get Mad Get Paid’, Simone Spence is an author, activist, business owner and speaker. Her organisation, founded in 2017 was built from personal struggle. Over 25 years ago she found herself with a child support collection problem. Her hunger to do right by her daughter forced her to confront the system, digging deep into its complexities allowing her to eventually collect her arrears. She has since helped thousands of women who have found themselves in a similar position do the same in turn allowing them to provide for their children. She strives to inform women of the support they are entitled to and is driven by her desire to help. Altogether the organisation has collected around 15 million USD with an 87% success rate supporting and creating solutions for parents in the States.
“I prioritise subverting dead beat culture and the male paradigms that continue to promote it, women in business, women entrepreneurs and supporting and creating solutions and pathways for Black and Brown female tech founders”
FASHION DESIGNER: GRACE WALES BONNER
Grace Wales Bonner is a 29 year-old British Jamaican Designer who founded her eponymous label in 2015. What started out as a menswear line has more recently expanded to include womenswear, redefining notions of black masculinity and Britishness while connecting with creative minds across Africa. She has been recognised by some of the most prestigious names in the industry as the designer who is changing the face of fashion. Exploring important topics such as identity politics and black culture through her tailored clothing, she has managed to put the voice of marginalised women at the forefront of the fashion industry creating space for incredibly talented women of colour. At just 25 years-old she won the ‘Emerging Menswear Designer’ award after being in business for only one year! Her success didn’t stop there, she also went on to win the LVMH talent award voted by a panel of the very best, including the late Mr Largerfeld himself.
“It’s a British standpoint, I guess, as a result of being mixed-race. Everything I do is seen through that lens. I try and avoid being too political, but I feel like now, with the way everything is going on [and the growth of Black Lives Matter] I have a responsibility: it’s a horrendous time. But my approach is quite delicate, I guess, it’s quite soft.”
ATHLETE: SIMONE BILES
At only 23 years-old, she is THE MOST decorated gymnast of all time with more than two dozen Olympic and World championship medals to her name. Born in Ohio, Simone had a rocky start; her father abandoned the family early on and her mother struggled with a substance abuse problem. After spending a bit of time in foster care her grandparents adopted Simone and her sister and have cared for them ever since. Her unbelievable gymnastic ability was discovered from a young age and she has since flourished becoming the one to watch out for. In 2016 she led the US women’s gymnastics team to win gold. If you haven’t seen her in action before, get on youtube and search for one of her routines, it is enough to make anyone want to become a gymnast! She preaches for fellow women to embrace their achievements and successes, to be proud of them and not afraid to hide them from society. Simone you are giving us life goals!
“I was missing out on public school and going to the football games, prom or homecomings. But I’ve been to three World Championships… so I think it’s like a win-win.”
CHEF: MARIYA RUSSELL
The first black woman to earn a Michelin Star at her restaurant Kumiko and Kikkō. Despite being so grateful for receiving the Michelin star, Mariya was baffled by how long it took for a black woman to break through the stereotypes and barriers. She’s doing what she loves, following her dreams and passions and is gaining recognition for her incredible culinary skills. She hopes to use her platform to encourage other black people to achieve what they want in life and to ignore the titles they are given. Mariya, you sound like a Godsent and you’re welcome to cook for us anytime!
“I’m on a list of people making Black history because so many people paved the way for me to even go to school, let alone all this. It’s completely humbling for me”
We hope these stories have empowered you as much as us! Below we have included some resources and ways in which you can support;
JUSTICE FOR BELLY MUJINGA
Why I’m No longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown
Natives by Akala
Dark Days by James Baldwin
Diversify by June Sarpong
How To Be Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
Don’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri
White Supremacy and Me by Layla F. Saad
Freedom Is A Constant Struggle by Angela Davis
They Can’t Kill Us All by Wesley Lowery
Your Silence Will Not Protect You by Audre Lorde
White Girls by Hilton Als
Brit(ish) by Afua Hirsch