Semtex is a world-class DJ, producer , broadcaster, radio hero, live event crowd King , and celebrated author.
DJ Semtex has had a fascinating life as a witness and participant and front seat on the journey of Hip-Hop.
His book shows and proves that he is in the DNA of hip hop culture, cosigned by the culture, and this book is made for the culture.
He was honest, authentic, open, vulnerable, confident, and an entertaining interviewee… which is what every host curator dreams of. 🏆
The audience feedback afterwards was marvellous. 👏🏽
Thank you to the Sony/ Orchard teams for their support and to @cookiepryce for recommending me 🙏🏽
Thank you to Semtex and the audience for trusting me with this very important conversation.
Hip Hop Raised Us All!
* If you’re looking for an incredible Christmas gift for any of your loved ones who might be music or hip hop fans I can’t recommend this book enough- it’s totally incredible! ⭐ The book is both a love letter to Hip Hop, as well as a definitive charting of its story over the years, with incredible album covers , infographics, notable moments, beefs, influence diagrams, and of course Sentex’s own journey within Hip Hop.
The introduction chapter is written by Public Enemy legend Chuck D, and artists like Baby from Cash Money, Ghostface Killer , and Jay-Z all have and love the book!
My friend and former BBC RADIO LONDON colleague LionHeart partnered with the Royal Albert Hall to host the Hall’s first dinner in celebration of black and brown excellence.
It was very exciting for me as it’s my favourite live venue to watch film, music, dance, and more creative arts in the world. It’s accessible to everyone. The staff are always lovely and welcoming and it never loses its magical sheen of luxury and magic.
We had the whole of the Royal Albert Hall to ourselves!
Beyonce is one of one…….Here, we were one of twenty one guests invited to dine.
My fellow guests included actors Adoah Andoh, David Ajala, Simon FrederickRichard Pascoe Sharlotte Ritchie, , Andi from YouTube, and other incredible high achievers in their fields of fashion, music and more.
This night was about recognising and championing 21 people, with a night of exquisite catering, conversation and a warm candid speech from the Hall’s Associate Artist LionHeart.
It was very special.
Llionheart is a Multi-Disciplinary Artist, Poet, Visionary Director, but what makes him stand out is he has HEART! A huge clean, celebratory heart that is open, champions everyone he meets and connects with and that makes him PRICELESS.
People are magnetically drawn to his energy and when he brought together a group of us at the Royal Albert Hall to celebrate Black & Brown Excellence, it was a night of magical company, conversation and creative gastronomical opulence.
The food by chef @kerth.gumbs was out of this world works of art…..I am still dreaming of the mouthwatering delicacies and food experience which included a feast finished with frothing volcanos!
Lionheart brought together people who celebrated heart, people who find joy and motivation in helping others win.
Often, transactional business buddies fade away…. In Lionheart’s squad, people become family and cheer for each other even when they’re not in the same room.
It made sense that we were brought together at the best live performance venue in the world, who are warm, welcoming and inclusive to every member of society – with inclusion and equity for all at the heart of their experience.
Thanks to the Royal Albert Hall team – Sara Jane Power, Matt Todd, Darranda, Davina, and the excellent backstage teams – standing ovation to you all!
Yesterday I was invited back to my MTV building where I spent 12 years of my career working. It was one of the best times of my life.
I started at MTV News as a presenter MTV International in 1997, quickly moving to producer director and then across to MTV UK where I headed up MTV Base production until 2009.
Working at MTV in Camden in London has been one of the most fun chapters of my life and led to some incredible adventures across the globe with some of the world’s most prolific music and entertainment talent.
As a progressive American business, MTV were always ahead of the curve when it came to any conversations around inclusivity and diversity.
In fact I was on the MTV diversity committee when I started in television way back in 1997!
Every year now for the past 6 years MTV has an annual inclusion week that is global for Paramount staff.
It’s an opportunity for MTV staff around the globe to come together and listen to voices that are often marginalised.
I was invited back to MTV yesterday by the head of diversity Wincie Knight and Sophia Lee, to curate and host a panel around the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, and where hip hop culture intersects with and has impacted British culture.
The diversity team worked with me to curate a long list and then a short list of panelists who have helped shape curate and document British Hip Hop culture.
When it comes to Hip Hop, often the earliest originators and voices are not given their credit.
Ultimately, we had a stellar panel of critical expert thought leaders and voices, who could dissect and debate the conversation about how Hip-Hop culture has impacted British culture.
I wanted to respect and honor the Paramount office of Global Inclusions vision for ensuring that no voices are marginalised.
When Hip Hop shines today, it rarely shines a light on the original get fresh crew.
So we ensured we chose four important and topically relevant names.
Cookie Pryce. Someone who was one half of the first UK hip hop artist outfit Cookie Crew, and now continues to work in the industry and is next month receiving a lifetime legacy award from the Artist and Managers Awards. How amazing is that!
Normski, someone who was a part of the fabric of Hip Hop in the 80’s, presenting his show Dance Energy and documenting via his incredible photography the culture for the past five decades. His new book just released is titled the Man with the Golden Shutter. It captures the essence of UK Hip Hop. Go check that out!
Jonzi D. Someone who is one of the original B Boys dancers and rappers and is currently a resident artist at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, who with his annual Hip Hop theatre festival titled Breakin’ Convention has done single-handedly more for hip hop dance culture in this country than anyone I know. In January he launches his Hip Hop Theatre Academy at the Olympic Park. We must all support that!
Neef. A younger journalist who documents the stories of younger Hip-Hop culture stars like Skepta, Dave, Giggs, Little Sims and Burna Boy. He has a new book being released to this January titled Where We Come From which is an incredible look at Hip Hop and rap genres across the UK Nations and regions and the stories of Caribbean and African families who came here. I’ve read it. It’s brilliant!
It was a powerful hours conversation live from the MTV studios in Camden to the Paramount staff globally across New York, LA and Latin America.
It clearly showed and proved how Hip-Hop culture has shaped our lives and the way we think, speak, dress, dance, listen, move, and our attitude.
Hip Hop culture has given a voice to the voiceless and shaped so much of what our society is today.
All our love and respect goes to the musicians, their teams, the media platforms, the radio DJs, the party DJs, the TV producers, the live events teams, music journalists, those who capture and championed the music and culture relentlessly, and of course the music lovers!
Congratulations to Hip Hop cultural tribes everywhere on 50 years of smashing it!
Thanks to Funny Hands TV for the brilliant slick tech.
Thanks to Chris & Rob at Paramount Tech Team.
Thanks to Stefon Grant from the REFRAME PROJECT at the South Bank Centre
Thanks to my best friend Roderick Arnold for sitting at my unwell mothers bedside in hospital so that I could get away to do this.
The 8th World Zoroastrian Youth Congress took place in London this week, from July 21st – 26th 2023. It was last held in London 27 years ago.
There were numerous panels, sessions, key-note speeches and socials about young Zoroastrians and their future.
Young Zoroastrians from all over the globe flew in from over 15 different countries.
The congress across six days hosted panels, seminars, thought sessions about the future of the community, interfaith marriage, mental health, anti-normative career choices.
Zoroastrian facts of interest:
Zoroastrianism is the world’s oldest monotheistic faith.
The most famous Zoroastrian is Freddie mercury (Freddie Balsara), and even though the world knows his name they know nothing about his community / culture.
Zoroastrians are mistakenly known as ‘’fire-worshippers as we have an eternal fire that burns in our places of worship.
The 3 wise men in the Christmas story were Zoroastrians.
We famously also used the cycle of life theory to bury our dead in the past. (sky burials). In the past, when we died, vultures would eat the body (returned to nature),after the religious ceremony and we thought this was a healthy positive human/animal/earth cycle of life. This has now died out, as there are no vultures.
We occupied Iran when it was called Persia. When the Muslims took over, Zoroastrians fled across the world as refugees. Our ancestors were refugees in India and the generosity of King Rana helped us to succeed.
Zoroastrianism is older than Islam and Christianity and numerous other cultures have been influence by Zoroastrian inventions, education, symbolism and more. (Especially our very own British royal family and the freemasons)
Like the Jewish community, we must be born into the religion, but unlike the Jewish rule which dictates birth by Jewish mother, Zoroastrians can only be accepted in a mixed faith marriage if the father is Zoroastrian.
As you can’t convert into the religion, one day it will totally die out. We are the smallest underrepresented community in the world.
Famous British Zoroastrians include …Freddie Mercury, Celebrity chef Cyrus Todiwala, actress Nina Wadia, Lord Bilimoria, BBC News ‘ Matthew Amroliwala.
I was asked to be on two panels. One about Zoroastrians working in the media, and another more informal, interactive Ask Me Anything session.
In attendance were young Zoroastrians from over 15 various countries, with so many of them already achieving brilliant accolades across various industries.
What a great couple of panels at the World Zoroastrian Youth Congress I was honoured to take part in.
So many young Zoroastrians from over 15 countries and all so smart, funny, dynamic and hot! There were around 500 people in the room, even after partying until 5am! Impressive
It was so good to see young people from my community globally achieving so much.
Who knew we were this talented?
There were some great speakers and questions.
Below are just a handful of interesting attendees I heard about who would make brilliant stories.
1. Ruzbeh Hodiwala – from India/ studying in the UK Ruzbeh Hodiwala is a Zoroastrian scholar at SOAS who has conducted extensive research and delivered numerous speeches on Neo Zoroastrians (Converts) and the future of the religion.
Angle: Focus on the dwindling population and reduced acceptance of converts.
2. Natalie & Nicole Kanga – are from the USA Natalie and Nicole Kanga are sisters from an interfaith marriage. Both have played instrumental roles in their local Zoroastrian communities, organizing events and delivering speeches. Natalie spoke on the headliner panel about ‘Relationships’ and the future of the community. Natalie works at a mental health startup, while Nicole is in project management. Both are fantastic advocates for the community, speak very well, and continuously work to promote acceptance and inclusivity within the faith.
Angle: Focus on relationships, inter-faith marriage and the identity of youth who have grown up in inter-faith households. Promote acceptance and how coming together can even be our superpower. This is also a theme that may resonate with other South Asian communities.
3. Shreas Pardiwala – is from India Shreas Pardiwala is a Bollywood actor and psychologist from Bombay and clearly extremely popular with an infectious, addictive personality – the audience adored him!. This was his first time at the congress, and he spoke on multiple topics, including Zoroastrians in the media, and mental health. He is very comfortable in front of the camera and obviously a star.
Angle: Focus on Zoroastrians breaking out of ‘normative’ careers and into creative pursuits.
4. Parshan Koshravi – from both the USA & Iran Parshan Koshravi is a young democrat from California and the 7th World Zoroastrian Youth Congress Chair. He gave a talk on Zoroastrians in public life. His unique and interesting journey is worth following, especially as there were a few panels focused on the role of Zoroastrians and human rights, which connects back to our heritage with the Cyrus cylinder.
Angle: Focus on his political career and his pursuit to embody values of good thoughts, words and deeds to develop communities of good. Much of his political work surrounds human rights.
5. Ayesha Billimoria -is from India Ayesha Billimoria is an athlete who was once the fastest woman in India. She is considered one of India’s most successful athletes. Ayesha gave a talk at the Congress and also runs a social enterprise where she promotes young South Asian girls’ involvement in sports.
Angle: Similar to Shreas, Ayesha is breaking out of that ‘normative’ career, really embodying the value that Zoroastrian girls can live for themselves and empowering those around her.
The whole congress was organised and led by the young Zoroastrians in the UK
The Zoroastrian faith, which has endured for over 3500 years, carries a profound message of Good Thoughts, Good Words, and Good Deeds. In a world increasingly divided, with a current population of only around 200,000, it is crucial to gather the next generation to ensure the survival and development of this ancient religion. The 8WZYC aims to host a variety of speaker sessions, workshops and social events to foster diversity and inclusion within the Zoroastrian community.
The congress reignited connections by inspiring young Zoroastrians to address the challenges of dwindling numbers and leverage their diverse population. Over 70 distinguished speakers shared insights on various topics, including inter-faith marriage, LGBTQ+ relationships, conversion, and the achievements of young Zoroastrians in media, arts, and sports.
In addition to the enriching sessions, evening events provided a platform for the youth to network, engage, and explore different aspects of their identity. Attendees had the opportunity to experience Persian dancing and instrumental performances, fostering connections that transcend borders and amplify the global voice of Zoroastrianism.
Key Themes at the congress were:
1. Religious Education & Identity – This theme will provide delegates with insights into the rich history of Zoroastrianism and how it relates to their current values, behaviour, and overall identity.
2. Social Responsibility – This theme will address a range of issues, from sustainability to human rights, and explore the role that young Zoroastrians can play in tackling these challenges.
3. Networking and Opportunities – This theme will highlight career pathways in media, entrepreneurship, design and more, as well as opportunities to network and create lasting connections with others.
Thank you to the young London based team who coordinated an incredible lineup of speakers. Stay connected!
From gang leaders to social entrepreneurs to Corporate CEO’s.
Everyone, at some point, will be hit by uncertainty that will bring you to your knees.
This month, I learned how to Identify the feeling of fear, fog and stasis in your body.
Because the more you can identify fear – the better you can cope with it.
Here’s how my journey started.
In the UK, it feels like we’ve had a decade of stress.
Starting with the Brexit vote, then a world of Trump and Johnson kick-started culture wars, culminating in the covid pandemic which was the pinnacle of uncertainty in our lives.
Since then, we’ve had the cost-of-living crisis, and nothing in this country seems to work anymore, our industries are on their knees and the quitting culture is dominant.
There seems to be no let-up in the weight piling onto our shoulders and minds.
Never in my life have things felt so uncertain and unpredictable.
In fact, that word UNCERTAIN has cropped up in every area of people’s lives.
In our careers, the threat of A.I, relationships, the work- life balance, health, home, security, stability…..
Everywhere I look, people are being paralysed by self-doubt and a lack of direction.
People are yearning for trusted leadership, to be empowered, to gain confidence and direction. To live their best lives, to thrive, not simply survive.
A few months ago, an old friend Sam Conniff – a former colleague and someone I’d worked with in my MTV days – reached out to me explaining that he had set up a program around uncertainty. Many corporate businesses have been sending teams to try it out – including Netflix, Apple, Nike and Nestle, and Sam invited me to try it out.
It’s a set of online sessions both live and pre-recorded for five hours in total.
(Truth be told, I love self-reflecting workshops that help us understand who we are and why we behave the way we do. In my next lifetime I may retain as a psychologist!)
Also, I knew that anything Sam had put his hand to would be progressive, provocative, pirate and risky. I’d worked with him in my MTV days on the ground-breaking Dubplate Drama which was the world’s first interactive digital and on-air drama.
Sam is a rule-breaker who challenges the status quo, and with his partner – Lead Scientist Katherine Templar-Lewis – they’d developed another ground-breaking way at looking at life’s uncertainties and making our world better.
So whilst I’d been hearing about the UNCERTAINTY EXPERTS PROGRAMME for months and was dying to try it, I just hadn’t been able to get the time to partake.
Then suddenly various stable areas in my life became unstable.
For the first time in my life, things were totally out of my control and my day-to-day activity depended on other people and the universe. I was living every day minute by minute with no stability or certainty.
I needed assurance that I was able to power through this chapter with resilience and I knew the time had come for me to find the time and accept Sam’s invitation.
I reached out to Sam explaining my current ‘wading through treacle’ chapter, and he replied with the most gracious, warm, welcoming email inviting me to join the next cohort of UNCERTAIN people.
The UNCERTAINTY EXPERTS programme’s purpose was to transform our uncertainty from a negative to a positive.
To understand the science and story of turning uncertainty into opportunity.
‘’The Uncertainty Experts programme brings together psychology, neuroscience, CBT, empathy design and emerging technologies to create a show like no other, an evidence-based intervention into Uncertainty’’.
Uncertainty Experts is a unique and transformative personal development experience bringing together neuroscientists from UCL to create the world’s first interactive documentary scientifically proven to increase Uncertainty Tolerance.
The live sessions are led by the two Uncertainty Experts Sam and Katherine. The pre-recorded sessions include a set of incredible people who have overcome adversity.
The episodes are exciting, well shot, dynamic, futuristic, engaging and gripping. (Not surprising then to learn that they are created by Netflix producers).
To make the positive change we would take a journey of two self-assessments and watch three masterclass episodes with complimentary extra episodes. That’s it.
UNCERTAINTY EXPERTS IN ACTION
So here we were on the programmes launch night, where I met 20 of my other uncertainty colleagues – my squad – my uncertainty crew- and we were talked through the different chapters of uncertainty, why people want to be certain and how this program would help us deal with areas like fear, fog, and stasis.
Once the launch was over, we’d unlocked our online pre-assessment.
Feeling excited and slightly nervous, yet curious and excited about what this pre-assessment would be like, I dived in.
It involved some multiple-choice questions about how we felt about different areas of our lives.
It also included a fun jeopardy-style game blowing up balloons via your laptop keyboard – but tap that space bar too many times and the balloons could explode and you lose all your accumulated points! (I’m hard wired to be competitive and win so this was a moment of jeopardy!)
The aim was to gain the highest score, but as there was no logical gameplay involved it truly was down to a ‘’whatever’’ attitude. All so uncertain and anxiety inducing!
How did it make us feel? On self-reflection, it was silly to get worried about something that was totally out of our control. The lesson was learned. Sometimes you just have to let life lead you, take some risks, shrug it off if they don’t succeed and keep it moving.
After the pre-assessment we had unlocked the first episodes about FEAR, FOG & STASIS that we could watch, and the first episode was about fear. In this section of the programme, various uncertainty experts talk to us through their experiences of Fear. their journey and overcoming it.
During the episode titled fear we learnt about how to make our fight or flight response step down, and step more into our resting and digesting energy, we also learned how to be grateful.
This masterclass was full of all the F Words. Fight, flight, fear, fawn, freeze, fold, f*&*!
The session broke down the science of why we crave certainty, and what happens to our brains when we lose it. I learned how to flow like water and pivot to meet uncertainty, rather than fight it. It was clear that this would lead to less anxiety, and more joy and contentment. If I can only learn to acknowledge and embrace it moving forward!
We were asked to find an object that we were grateful for. It’s not the most sentimental object, but I am grateful for my phone. It allows me to live an empowered life via communication, safety, knowledge, memories and more.
We were asked to silently talk to it for 30 seconds and tell it about all the things I was grateful for it for. The experts showed us how emotions like gratitude create a dopamine hit in our brains. So as a group we all had a unified dopamine hit together. ‘’Group drugs’’ defined differently. LOL
The pre-recorded uncertainty experts’ stories were fascinating and humbling. A group of people who truly embraced the uncertainty in their circumstances to push through to ultimate success and breakthrough. These people included:
MORGAN GODVIN – A young woman who went to prison accused of her best friend’s death and managed to stay positive during her imprisonment leaning into the gratitude and empathy she had for her daily blessings
MARK DEMPSTER – a former Glaswegian smuggler who is now a trauma specialist and works in Harley Street with politicians around anxiety and addiction
KARL LOKKO – A former gang member one of the most notorious Gang members in London who is now runs a black business incubator and is an entrepreneur
(See the full set at Uncertainty Experts website)
We learnt about Safety behaviour, which are the negative things that we do when we are anxious scared or angry. We might be aggressive, swear, shout, overeat, drink too much, take drugs…..
As soon as you recognise ‘’safety behaviour’’, we can stop it. (Mine are working out, keeping busy, eating, and …enlightening moment….having a slight ‘’saviour complex’’. I realised I try and help others save themselves, so I don’t have to save myself!
IMPOSTER SYNDROME IS A MINOR UNCERTAINTY
I loved the exercise where we were asked to make a list of things that we do within our comfort zone, and then other activities in our ‘’stretch zone’’. We made small steps to get fully into our stretch zone, so that in a few months, when we look back in retrospect, all the things in our stretch zone, would be in our comfort zone, making room for more new things in my stretch zone! Make sense? I found this exercise incredibly exciting!
What else could I do to stretch myself?
I learned that there’s something about uncertainty that boosts your productiveness and your consciousness.
We were shown that research from Harvard University shows that uncertainty and anxiety put the brain in a top state for learning and growth.
UNCERTAINTY EXPERTS’ SUMMARY
I like to think that I have a high resilience and tolerance for challenges. This programme helped me understand the tools and emotional mental ride we experience when things are not in our control.
It highlighted why a welcoming embrace of uncertainty is critical.
One lesson leapt out at me:
A high tolerance level enables you to live your best life, meet new people and have a socially active happy life.
Low uncertainty levels lead to us being more susceptible to populism and conspiracy theories.
The course enabled me to recognise my own accomplishments. (Even writing that last sentence made me cringe). I recognised that I HAVE MOVED THE DIAL! I HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO PEOPLE’S SUCCESS. (Still cringing!)
So next time you have a fear around uncertainty or fear of something happening, think about the missed opportunity… what opportunity will you miss that you may come to regret?
Grip the fear with both hands and leap forward through the journey.
It reminded me of a quote I have on my fridge magnet. ‘’ Fate whispers to the warrior “You cannot withstand the storm” and the warrior whispers back “I am the storm”.
At the final assessment and graduation ceremony, we learned that as a group we scored high on bravery and resilience, but low on decisiveness.
It made us realise that Connection is the way out. Connection to people, places, and conversations will always make us more resilient.
The programme was a journey I appreciate for many reasons. The sessions and timings made it easy to take part even if you’re mega busy as there are various time and date options. There are numerous reading materials and videos all collated and shared. They make it easy to recognise positive and negative habit forming.
Everything about the way society works makes us demand control and certainty, so this course made me realise it’s ok to simply lean in and embrace uncertainty. I thought I was already resilient and i think this course made me shrug and say ‘’ok so I don’t know what’s next and i can’t control it- but whatever happens, happens and I’ll be the best I can with what I have’’.
I encourage you to check out the UncertaintyExperts.com site and try out their quick free resilience tests. Go on! Be curious….
We can all thrive in uncertain times……if we can learn to consistently explore the benefits of uncertainty.
It’s been a busy month for hosting panels in the media industry.
This fortnight I curated an RTS Futures session with people across the UK titled NEW VOICES AND STORIES IN DOCUMENTARIES. (Watch video at the bottom of this page).
In 2023, TV commissioners and viewers are more attracted to stories from real people across the UK, in their authentic voices- than ever!
I am lucky enough to know and brought together some brilliant names who have been bringing award-winning insightful, provocative content to diverse British TV audiences this past year.
We heard how they persuade new voices to reveal, share and preserve their unique- very personal – stories with the world. We were able to step into the shoes of the commissioners and producers who give us access to other people’s most life changing moments and heard how they source the subjects and stories, make the approaches, gain trust and access, and of course understood why it was important to tell those stories.
We heard from the teams behind THE RTS award- winning documentary THE EVOLUTION OF BLACK BRITISH MUSIC (BET UK), and the team behind Channel 4’s Youth News Strand UNTOLD – which has produced some dynamic shows about Incels, YouTubers, and reality show stars.
It takes dynamic, forward-thinkig people who are unafraid to push boundaries to make great content that shines a light on under-represented communities.
There were so many great panels and speakers at the #BeYouFestival at @OuternetGlobal on July 13.
I really enjoyed chairing the ASK ME ANYTHING session with TV industry stars Fatima Salaria, Melvin Odoom and Mobeen Azhar – three incredibly talented people who have made it in their respective lanes by using sheer grit, tenacity, resilience and of course TALENT!
It was an opportunity for anyone, from industry veterans to new and rising talent to hear our industry experts share their personal career stories, and then ask the panel for advice on navigating the industry, overcoming obstacles and making it.
We covered areas that the panel found difficult at the start of their career, the one thing that progressed their career from mid to senior levels, to what they owed their success, the gaps they see which new entrants to our TV world should master, best TV hacks, best TV personalities for various genres, and an example of a time that they failed and what they learned from that experience.
We crammed in LOADS of insight with great questions from the audience!
Thanks to all who attended, the rest of the Advisory Committee, many of you who have said such kind things about enjoying the sessions, and the founders of SOHO MEDIA FESTIVAL Jaisica Lapsiwala and Tomasz Witkowski for curating a busy, fun, interactive day full of a very diverse audience.
The Four Seasons Hotel in Limassol, Cyprus is one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever had the pleasure to stay at. I’ve been sharing my fun days at the hotel on social media and so many people have requested more information, so here’s a blog about my experience (written whilst under the shade at the edge of the ocean! 😉
I’ve been keen to fit in a quick trip somewhere hot in Europe and my friend – the celebrity chef- Tonia Buxton – who is Cypriot – enthusiastically recommended this hotel to me. I planned to meet friends out there, and so a couple of us booked our trip via Tonia’s pal Anna Papaphotis at Travelosophers / Travelmania, and then threw our suitcase together for an unforgettable holiday with long days of sun, so much youthful fun and a tropical landscape of relaxation.
I confess, that after the past few years of visiting luxury hotels in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, I was concerned that the quality standard wouldn’t live up to what I had experienced before. But I was pleasantly surprised and relieved. The Four Seasons Cyprus (not a part of the international Four Seasons group), is lavish on a par with some of the best five star hotels that I’ve visited in the Middle East, Asia and across America – and I’ve been lucky enough to stay in quite a few (mostly work, a tiny number- pleasure!).
The Four Seasons has elegant opulence with marble, water, flora and art everywhere you look with a strong sense of brand and harmony. It also has free, strong wi-fi that extends all the way out to the beach front where some of us are able to work on laptops in our bikinis. Breakfast is a magnificent feast and it’s free! There are stunning 180 degree views across the ocean and everywhere you’re surrounded by the birdsong of the prettiest fluttering birds.
The all marble grand foyer lobby area has a giant orchid display at the entrance. Sometimes this floral display is all white, on other days its a burst of coloured orchids.
The hotel sits on the ocean on the Mediterranean coast and has two outdoor pools.
The grounds are green and lush and lead directly to the ocean. The site also houses an indoor pool , steam, sauna, indoor fitness studio and gym. The hotel amenities also feature a stunning spa!
Once a week the hotel hosts cocktail evening for guests to meet the staff and partake in delicious canapés and a long bar full of numerous cocktails and champagne.
Very handily, all the plug points are British 3-pin sockets and plugs. Cyprus gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1960, after 82 years of British control. Apparently according to official blurb, ”our two countries now enjoy warm relations”, however the continuing British sovereignty of the Akrotiri and Dhekelia Sovereign Base Areas has continued to divide Cypriots.
The hotel is fully accessible with ramps and lifts everywhere as well as four specially allocated disability friendly rooms with larger walk-in / wheel-in showers and low level switches. Theres a slick Capri-like chair lift to and from the beach too.
Everywhere you walk in this hotel you hear water and see lush flora and fauna which adds to the tropical energy.
From the front entrance which has a grand pond and art sculpture to the many waterfalls and flowery walls which are scattered across the grounds lush green lawns and immeasurable palm trees. There are lagoon ponds full of fish, indoor water features with hanging glass art sculptures, and the corridors are lined with beautiful gold leaf artefacts lit by spotlights.
POOL & BEACH
The adult infinity style pool is picturesque, serene and overlooks the ocean. It has glass walls and jacuzzi beds in the pool so you have an excuse to lie in bed all day whilst overlooking the ocean, and ordering cocktails from the warm and supportive pool staff team. Unlike many pools where you’re lucky to spot and wave down the pool staff, here they walk around constantly so theres no chance of your craving for an iced coffee not being met immediately. Even if you order a simple soft drink, a plate of macaroons, crisps, olives and nuts arrive alongside (so theres no need for lunch if you’ve had a big breakfast!).
The other side of the hotel site has a picturesque circular children’s pool complete with an exciting water slide, more jacuzzi bubbles, mini waterfalls and for any instagram fans theres even a bridge that cuts across the pool facing the ocean where you can pose up a storm.
The giant Rolex clock at the side of the large kids pool always reminds you of the time. It told me that it’s always time to be fabulous, relax and be pampered.
The Four Seasons makes life feel fun and effortless. It’s as if the most demanding diva oversaw every aspect of the hotel before it opened to the public, to ensure that every need is met and not one irritation exists. I couldn’t find anything to complain about – they have been really thoughtful with every detail.
For example, like the best sun beds on the best beaches, each sun bed stand has a shade with hooks so that you can hang up your complimentary, huge, white Four Seasons beach bags, shawls and sun hats so that there is never any reason to get the irritation of sand in your bag, trainers or anywhere else.
The hotel is positioned directly on the beach with numerous paths which lead straight onto their private beach. All of the straw beach shades have dark wood sun beds with thick cushioned cream cushion beds. ( A very famous pop / rock star once told me they would only stay at hotels with wooden sun beds with white/cream cushions- and NO PLASTIC SUN BEDS-EVER” LOL!)
The dark golden sand is pristine with not one bit of litter as someone goes around making sure that nothing unsightly is left anywhere. On the sun bed tables are the now customary ‘call button’ on each sun bed to summon a beach staff for drinks, food, help to move your sun bed in/out of the sun, a chat, support for people with mobile vulnerability with a ski lift style chair that transports guests from the hotel to the beach.
The hotels attention to detail for accessibility was second to none and the staff couldn’t be more helpful. If you have any mobility issues, then they also have a slick efficient lift- like a little mini ,slow roller coaster, similar to the funicular chairlift in Capri that takes you up and down the mountains – well here at the Four Seasons Hotel they have a mechanical chair lift that takes guests slowly and safely – operated by a staff member – from the hotel to the beach front.
Similar to some of the best hotels in the world that I’ve been to, the pool staff come round regularly with refreshing pool free smoothies, slushies, ice lollies and ice creams and even the most gorgeous occasional fruit platters.
One thing that always irritates me on holidays is flies and midges and mosquitoes – (I KNOW!- first world privilege problems!), there are always plenty of them by the water and they always love feasting on me. The fascinating thing about Cyprus is there weren’t any flies ,mosquitoes or midges anywhere? Even at breakfast when we are eating alfresco, there is nothing flying in to try and swoop on our food. Similarly, on the beach when we are eating food there are no creepy crawlies or flies buzzing about. I didn’t get bitten once – a miracle!
Furthermore, we expect when we’re on holiday for there to be the occasional insect irritation in the pool. It could be the odd beetle or fly that’s drowned itself by accident but the Four Seasons pools are all pristine and clean with not a whiff of chlorine or dead insects about them. I don’t know why or how, but I appreciate it. No mosquito spray or copious drinking of tonic water needed to discourage the biters. Even the water on beach front is spotless and twinkling and totally see through – completely crisp and just spectacularly pretty!
ROOMS & SUITES
When I arrived I was initially allocated a first floor sea view room, which was huge and lovely, but on flinging back the curtains to take in the sea view for the first time, I found that whilst facing the sea, the sea wasn’t visible as a flower bush was blocking the view. My heart sank. Not to worry, the hotel stated, tomorrow we will swap your room for a forth floor room, which they did and the sea view was spectacular. The Four Seasons staff are very keen to please guests where they can.
Rooms are stylishly interior designed with much higher height beds – which is glam but could be tricky for people with limited mobility to climb up onto so that’s something to be aware of! The beds are extremely comfy with crisp cotton sheets, a variety of pillows, with subtle ambient lighting options in every room. Huge slabs of marble make up all the bathrooms in the hotel and feel very prestigious (I stroked the walls a lot!).
The rooms have spacey wardrobes and drawers, large bedroom and living room areas, with sofas that open up into beds, a mini bar, the usual Nespresso coffee machine, tea kettles, proper tea as well as herbal, a fruit stand and ice bucket with Prosecco.
There are a handful of restaurants on site, each offering exquisite selections of food and drinks. The hotel has five gourmet style restaurants.
The Tropical Cafe is where the day buffet dining takes place.
The main all-day-dining restaurant – Tropical Cafe – is where the main breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet is- it’s decked out with lush fauna and flora and surrounded by lagoon style pools of water teaming with colourful koi fish splashing about. Just mesmerising!
When I usually hear the word buffet it’s a concern and feels basic. Not this time! This buffet has some of the most creative, delicious concoctions that you will ever experience. In fact, the dinner buffet has numerous 5 Star gourmet style food options. The chefs cook up steaks, duck, salmon, lobster, the salad is creative and sexy (honestly!), there is nothing boring about anything in there. So, the fact that it was a buffet was an advantage as we got to try a little bit of everything!
This area of the hotel felt beautifully matched to me and seemed like I was destined to be here because everywhere you look there are jasmine flower bushes, jasmine flower trees and anthurium flowers – both my top flowers – what kind of a beautiful coincidence is that?!
Seasons Oriental is a pricer than usual Chinese restaurant which is well-renowned with the most immaculate service and beautifully presented delicious food.
There’s another spectacular elevated sushi restaurant with smart livered waiting staff called Vista , that sits halfway between the beach and the hotel overlooking the ocean. It’s like a restaurant that Hollywood films would shoot stunning panoramic scenes at. With beautifully attired waiting staff, a view of the ocean and the stunning water lagoon lights below, it’s breathtaking and unforgettable. We had dinner here on our first night!
Despite all the above being totally 5 Star standard, one element that feels off kilter to the rest of the hotel brand and sets it aside from other five star hotels is that aside from at breakfast all beverages cost extra and are not included. So you can get free Prosecco at breakfast, but request a water or coke at any other time of day and it’ll cost you. You are given two small bottles of water daily in your room.
YOUTHFUL VIP MAGIC
So much about the Four Seasons hotels seems to encourage you not just to relax but actually lean into your youthful side so there are lots of moments where I’ve been clapping with glee.
How many hotel reviews gush about the immersive lift experience? Well, one of my favourite things about the hotel – don’t laugh now – is the lift! Every time you get into the elevator, as well as elevator music which is par for the course, they have stunning a video immersions which change depending on the time of day.
At breakfast you’re transported into an aquarium of tropical fish.
At lunchtime you’ll find yourself standing at the base of a beautiful cascading waterfall.
At tea time you’re in a peaceful sunlit bamboo forest.
At night time, predictably you experience a starry magic night full of stars.
It really is the best experience coupled with the music. The lights go down as the lift moves , then the lights come up as you exit – it’s just like being just the star of your very own little lift show!
A cute touch at the Four Seasons Hotel is all the restaurants are surrounded by water and in those water ponds are the largest koi fish I have ever seen! They are orange, yellow, black, grey, white.
They have feeding time every afternoon at 2:30 where guests are encouraged to go and help feed the koi fish. It’s another enchanting, playful touch!
Everything in every suite has exquisite attention to detail from the real clothes hangers-not those annoying slide on/off hook hotel hangers, huge interactive television screens – (every time you turn them on they will say welcome with your name and thank you for choosing them as a hotel on your vacation), it’s a nice touch a small thing but very sweet.
You can oder room service, book spa sessions, book gym/ yoga classes, view your bill, change the temperature in the room, control the rooms lighting, and – my fave- open and close the curtains. My laziness was fully leant into!
Each room has ensuite showers and bathrooms. There are also fresh fruit platters that are renewed daily – which is unusual as often when you go to a five-star hotel a fruit platter tends to sit there deteriorating day by day. Here there is a fruit bowl connoisseur who comes round and replenishes fresh fruit in your bowl every day.
Another little touch that always made me giggle and brought on the child in me was that the walk-in shower has a coloured lighting system where you can change your washing experience to different colours. I’ve come across this lighting system in my dance studio at the gym before where you can change the colours of the lights, but to change the colour of your shower daily is another amusing touch that I’d not come across before. I ensured to switch up my green-blue-orange-pink-red shower at every opportunity. In conjunction with that – the bath is double sized with jacuzzi spouts for even more fun!
Additionally, a slick branding touch is that all the toiletries in the bathrooms are Molton Brown and in keeping with the theme – they are Cypress and sea fennel! (See what they did there?)
So like any hotel, the bath and shower gels, shampoos, conditioners, shower gels and body lotions are replenished daily like any hotel (and they’re not cheap!) and yes, I did snaffle away a few!)
OUTSIDE THE FOUR SEASONS LOCALITY
If you spend a week at the Four Seasons Hotel in Cyprus you don’t need to venture out at all as there is enough R&R and fun onsite with water sports and floodlit tennis courts, as well as a coastal footpath catering for the long-walk-aficionados amongst us, leading to some delightful views and yet more restaurants.
If you are inclined to venture out though, there is a nearby Marina and an Old Port with a castle should you be so inclined to tick your history and culture box, but to manage your expectation, the town looks quite run down once you’re used to the opulent Four Seasons. Outside of the hotel there’s a lot of graffiti and there’s an abundance of construction work going on. So bar the marina and a shopping mall trip (cos Zara abroad always has different styles and stock than the UK), you never have to leave the perimeters of this hotel.
One morning a staffer at the pool saw me practising yoga and invited me to join her beachside yoga class for Four Seasons staff.
It was excellent and the only yoga class I’ve ever done wearing sunglasses!
Real hot yoga on the edge of the pier surrounded by water where jet skiers, water skiers, speed boats and swimmers who were all indulging in the 8am 27 degree ‘cool time of day’! It gave our mountain poses and water poses a whole new magic!
The managers of the Four Seasons Hotel couldn’t do enough for us. Between Evelyn Ibrahim, Nick Aristou, Coatas Nicolaou and Andreas Alkiviades, they were keen to make sure that our every wish and comfort was catered for.
A chic, classy touch was on the day you depart your room, they leave a thank you card and Four Season branded luxury candle.
This attention to good values and behaviour extends to their environmental policy that addresses water and power consumption, chemical use and waste management.
Something I have found is that outside of the middle east the standard of luxury hotels drops. At Middle East hotels the staff service is stellar and I’ve found holiday hospitality in the rest of the world simply hasn’t compared, so it was unusual to come to Cyprus and actually find a hotel full of staff who at every opportunity greet and strike up friendly conversations with guests and remind us that they are here to help – the hotels staff are truly their greatest asset – my staff besties were the lovely Mariam and Thanasis – they went above and beyond to chat, help and ensure we were happy – just incredible service – brava!
I’ll be doing everything I can to come back here soon with even more friends and family. It’s my new fave spot! Thanks again Tonia for suggesting it and to Anna for hooking me up a great deal!
On Friday evening I won an award at the Educators Trust Awards 2023. I was awarded the Mary Lou Carrington Award for a Businesswoman with a Significant Contribution to Education at a black-tie dinner at the opulent Merchant Taylors Hall (one of the oldest surviving halls from the 14th century and very beautiful).
Mary Lou Carrington was a businesswoman and a Common Councillor in the City of London with a passionate commitment to education. A founding member of the Educators, she sadly died in 2008 preventing her installation as Master. This award is in her memory. It is for a businesswoman who has made a significant and inspirational contribution to education.
I was Nominated by Sakhila Mona Mirza, the Acting CEO, for Speakers for Schools.
Speakers for Schools was founded in 2011 by the broadcaster, ITV News’ Robert Peston. It is a charity providing expert speakers from leading industry professionals and academics free of charge for state schools and colleges. These eminent figures donate their time to share their knowledge, insights and experience with students to inspire and motivate them.
I was informed repeatedly on the night by various masters that it’s one of the highest awards for alternative educators that is awarded by the Educator’s Trust (this information totally brought on my imposter syndrome!).
The event was highly traditional within the gilded, opulent halls at the Merchant Taylors Hall in the heart of the City of London.
The dress code was strict ’so no jeans and trainers no matter how haute couture!’.
The timing and protocol for the evening was strict, yet fun!
At 6.00pm sharp, there was a private drinks reception for Winners and our Nominators in the Parlour Room where we were joined by some of the Trustees and the awards judges.
We were offered champagne and wine then at 7pm Dinner was called by the Beadle – a large man in ceremonial dress, with a loud voice and a large ornate staff who ceremonially ushered us into the Great Hall. (This was akin to being in an episode of Downton Abbey).
As you enter the Great Hall, it’s hard not to gasp at the magnificent decor, gilt framed portraits of men in history, red carpets, and giant organ. I did comment to my nominator that seeing some notable women from history would be a positive nod to inclusion.
Each dinner place was indicated by name and we were instructed to remain standing behind our chairs for the first of many traditional moments.
The Beadle then announced the Procession of the Officers of the Worshipful Company of Educators as we slow clapped as they entered.
These included: the Master, the Upper Warden, Middle Warden, Lower Warden; the Renter Warden (the Social Secretary); the Treasurer; the Clerk (the general manager), accompanied by the main Guests of Honour, the chief of whom will be the Lady Mayoress of the City of London who presented me with my award.
Once they were all in place, we all sat down.
13 award winners and our nominees sat in the centre row of three, long, beautifully decorated tables and the rest of the very strict order of ceremonies began.
The three-course dinner was refreshing, light and delicious. After the starter and main course, it was announced that two special awards were to be awarded separately- one of which was mine.
I was instructed by the master of ceremonies about which way to walk ”slowly and gracefully” around the tables towards the stage, and round in the same circle on route back to my seat.
The hall fell silent as my name was read out with the citation as I walked as instructed ‘’slowly and gracefully’’ up to the stage, and when gestured to come up I was congratulated, a photo was taken, and I walked slowly and gracefully back to my seat. Luckily none of the winners were required to make a speech which made the formal evening less daunting!
As I walked to and from the stage, the thing that struck me was that masters and judges sitting at the perimeter of the hall all made a concerted effort to catch my eye, smile and offer their congratulations. It was an unexpected, warm welcome and appreciated.
The rest of dinner included lively conversation around similar interests of synergy around educating and supporting young people around the country to reach their full potential.
If I’m honest, before the evening, I had felt a little bit nonchalant about the event as it seemed so far from my real world, but by the end it was clear that the Masters and educators in their formal robes were genuinely the sincerest, kind people, many of whom approached all of us winners and congratulated us and reminded us that we were doing important work that was recognised.
There were other City Livery Peculiarities – a bit like at Big Weddings, lots of pomp and ceremony at this livery dinner.
There were four toasts after dinner (so we were advised to keep some wine back for them unless we liked port which was also served with the coffee and petit fours).
The first toast was to the King (guests sang the first verse of the National Anthem);
The second toast was to the Royal Family (the National Anthem played again but we were advised not to sing).
The third toast was to The Lord Mayor; and to all the Guests, so we toasted ourselves!
We were also meant to finish the nights olde worlde protocol with a tradition called The Loving Cup. This City tradition, supposedly dating back to Anglo-Saxon times, follows the singing of grace at the end of the meal. It marks the fellowship of the assembled company that ‘’we all drink out of the same chalice (no chance of getting poisoned) but not leaving anything to chance, the back of the drinker is always protected by his neighbour who stands on guard until the action is finished. The basic principle is that there are always THREE diners standing at the same time. Traditionally it starts with the Master who drinks wine from a silver chalice with a lid, bows to the assembled company, then turns to his right. He bows to his neighbour who has stood up and also bows. The Master passes the Cup to the neighbour and lifts the lid with his left hand and wipes the lip of the Cup. The neighbour drinks, the Master replaces the lid and the fellow turns to his right where his neighbour stands up. In the meantime, the Master guards the first neighbour’s back against assault. And so on round the hall. Basically, drink, wipe, bow and pass the Cup to your neighbour.
This process would take far too long with a hall of 200 guests, so more than one Loving Cup is in operation used to pass down the tables.
However, we were assured not to worry about the public health issues of communal drinking of wine. Covid put paid to that. The ceremony is still followed but in the Loving Cup are liqueur chocolates!’’
I was really looking forward to this part of the formal dinner, but time restrictions apparently meant this did not take place.
It was a new experience for me – an interesting evening topped off with a keynote speech by my dear friend Tim Campbell MBE – thank you Tim for name checking me in your speech – it’s been an honour to have my peers encouraging the same synergy and ambitions as I have throughout the years.
I’m rarely nominated for awards- let alone win- so this moment was truly unexpected. I do what I do because I genuinely love speaking to young people and I love seeing them win. Whilst they feedback that I teach them how to be strong multi-media talents, it’s really me who learns valuable lessons from them and their energy motivates me.
I truly recommend that if you love your job and want to encourage new, young talent into your industry, then volunteering for Speakers For Schools is a satisfying and motivating thing!
What a great evening at the @ymbawards where the great and good of the music industry celebrated the teams behind the stars. The PR, marketing, publishing, digital platforms, live festivals, music journalists, presenter, stylist, A&R, music lawyers, labels, DJ’s, directors, and more.
The Young Music Boss Awards were conceived to support and empower young music professionals, whose achievements don’t always receive the attention they deserve. Aimed at U35 creatives and professionals, categories include ‘Best Manager, Best Publisher, Best Lawyer, Best Journalist, Best A&R, Best Label, Best Digital Platform’ and many more.
The music industry came out in numbers again for the 2023 Young Music Boss (YMB) Awards in its third year, with more than 350 industry executives, artists and other professionals in attendance.
The awards took place in partnership with the likes of MMF (Music Managers Forum), AIM (The Association of Independent Music), Live Nation, PPL, Sync Vault, Duppy Share, Tribe Urban Entertainment and CEEK at Woolwich Works.
The YMB Awards recognises the outstanding achievements of the U35 music industry executives who work tirelessly to innovate and elevate the industry. Celebrating the best of the present and future, the night featured performances from the likes of Ariez, Duchess and Wohdee.
Hosted by ITV’s Pricilla Anyabu, awards were presented by the likes of Char Grant (Black Music Coalition and Director of A&R 0207 Def Jam), Komali Scott-Jones (Black Music, Parlophone) Coalition / (Taponeswa Mavunga (Director of Africa Sony Music UK), Charisse Beaumont (CEO Black Lives in Music), Nordia West (VP Marketing Capitol Records), Sharron Harrison-Lewis (MD Sicario Group) and me!
I presented the BEST PUBLICATION AWARD to GUAP MAGAZINE!
I was inspired by everyone in the room. I am inspired by all they do outside this room. I wish we had had an awards ceremony like this for my peers and I when we were under 35. To be seen and celebrated and amplified by and with your peers is truly a beautiful and motivating thing.
Every British music industry organisation was represented with tables from PPL, to MMF to Live Nation to AIM and more.
I took SBTV Head Tanisha Artman along as my guest.
A lovely champagne reception, a sumptuous dinner and who knew @therealkano owned a drinks brand?!? Not me. #Duppyshare
The full list of winners is below:
BEST MANAGER (Sponsored by the MMF)
Tobe Onuwka (Merky)
BEST PUBLICITY & RELATIONS
Sheniece Charway (Youtube Music)
BEST RADIO PERSONALITY
Remi Burgz (BBC 1Xtra)
Remel London (Capital Xtra)
Tiffany Calver (BBC 1Xtra)
Jacqueline Eyewe (0207 Def Jam)
BEST PRODUCER (Sponsored by PPL)
Chi Chi Nwakodo (Sony Music Publishing)
Wale Kalejaiye (Sheridans)
Mimi The Music Blogger
Glen Sonko ( 0207 Def Jam)
BEST TOUR MANAGER (Sponsored by Live Nation)
Janelle Fraser ( Tour Music Live)
Whitney Boateng (WME)
BEST DIGITAL PLATFORM
BEST LIVE MUSIC PLATFORM
Strawberries & Creem
BEST (SERVICE) AGENCY
0207 Def Jam
Congratulations to Jusnah Gadi – Young Music Boss- for pulling together and creating such an inspired brand!
Jusnah Gadi is an entrepreneur and the founder of Young Music Boss. With industry experience and a strong network, she combines her commercial knowledge and legal qualifications to provide aspiring young music industry professionals with services, resources and events that aim to eliminate the barriers that may prevent them from achieving their full potential.
In my career in media and music, I’ve worked at or attended nearly hundreds of awards shows nationally and internationally.
Then just when you think that one show is pretty much like the others, you’re invited to something special and important that makes you gasp and inspires you all over again.
As someone who has always throughout my career shone a light on hidden voices and undiscovered talent, and loved to shout about people and content that makes positive social impact, it was a JOY to witness an extremely inspirational night at the Visionary Arts Awards!
The Visionary Arts Awards returned for its fourth year on the 21st March 2023, in association with the UK’s leading anti racism charity, Show Racism the Red Card.
Hosted by Scarlette Douglas, the awards ceremony celebrated activists, creators and community leaders who over the past 12 months have inspired social change through the arts and their platforms including film, television, music, literature, podcasts, theatre, media platforms and their communities.
Alongside the presentation of the awards, there were live performances from pianist & composer Okiem, who’s music is described as “cinematic classical” and West End singer Cleopatra Rey accompanied by Edison on guitar, who performed ‘No Woman, No Cry’, into ‘One Love’, from Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical.
With a great ensemble of inspiring icons, community leaders and celebrities all under one roof at the beautiful Ham Yard hotel, we witnessed an inspirational evening!
So many amazing people and incredible impactful content were celebrated.
I presented the Best TV Ad of the Year to Virgin Atlantic. (that’s my fave airline!) Virgin Atlantic
Their ad SEE THE WORLD DIFFERENTLY has captured hearts and minds (and customer loyalty)
Their ad celebrates the uniqueness of their people and customers.
For many decades I’ve always said that Virgin Atlantic have treated all customers with respect, made us ALL feel seen and special and their branding and unapologetic marketing proves it. ✈️
Judi Love won Best TV Doc for BLACK, FEMALE AND INVISIBLE , it was great to see ANGELA FERREIRA and her @DouglasRoad team win!
Kwajo Tweneboa won Community Person of the Year for all his social housing activism
Fearne Cotton won Podcast of the Year for Happy Place
And the magnificent Naomi Campbell won the Legacy Award with an impressive speech that challenged past discrimination and the secrets to her resilience.
Salute to the #VisionaryArtsAwards team – particularly their founder Adrian Grant and Rebecca Goodwin – for a important and fabulous evening celebrating positive social impact in the arts and creative industries.
The Brit Awards is the British music industries biggest event of the year where the industry celebrates the biggest and best commercial achievements over the past twelve months.
This year the show was better than it’s been for years. Big names, big performances, multiple A List presenters, an excited arena full of noisy music fans and all the industry dinner tables groaning under the weight of champagne, decadence, ego and anxiety. Would their artists win? Would their artists make a successful speech? Would their artists make the papers with their red carpet outfits? Would the publicity lead to an uplift in sales, streams and and congratulatory back-slap for the record label staff from their head honcho bosses?
Well, the excitement and anticipation paid off. The show was the best I’ve seen in years. There were the usual awkward speeches, one technical glitch that the producers managed to stitch together with a slight hiccup, the Saturday night extravaganza on ITV for the first time meant no work the next morning and there was an uplift of viewers from last years 2.8million to 3.8million this year so a good look for ITV.
I loved Lizzo’s set! She has captured me and the globe with her female positive empowering anthems this past few years. She’s totally unapologetic with her art, voice, lyrics and brand and I have her on my playlist non-stop!
I loved the fact that an unknown dup from the Isle of Wight- Wet Leg – came from nowhere the same week and bagged Grammies and Brit Awards. Their set was brilliant staging, lighting, greenery and rock n roll.
I loved that Cat Burns – a huge gay icon- was celebrated with a very powerful set.
I loved that Stormzy showed how much vast range he had by not repeating a dynamic, hard hitting political rain-shower set that held politicians to account for Grenfell. He showed he could gracefully sing and rap a set accompanied by the incredible Chineke Orchestra and a choir.
I loved Sam Smiths set- which had a tech glitch and came back later in the show than it seemed they were meant to be. I did wonder why people were so polarised about Sam Smiths appearance when Harry Styles also expresses gender neutral, flamboyant fashion tastes and is celebrated for it. Is it about Sam Smiths weight?
I loved Salma Hayek and Shania Twain – A List classic women still looking and sounding super dope!
CONTROVERSY – BEST ARTIST
However, the Brit Awards is no stranger to controversy. Yes there were some bleeped speeches, there were some obviously filler spots fillig for time on the floor by the host Mo Gillighan and more.
Whether its previous moments under the glare of the spotlight like #BritsSoWhite a few years ago, or this years uproar about the lack of female artists in the Best Artist category or the merging of the pop & R&B categories, there is always something for every awards show isn’t there?.
In recent years more gender neutral artists have been more outspoken and courageously come out to be able to express themselves authentically. This led to awards shows having to pivot to meet the challenge of including everyone in their categories. This is why the Best Male and Best Female categories were merged to become Best Artist like The Grammys. Of course, there were always concerns that this would sideline female music acts who are already sidelined with so many aspects in the music industry.
Women aren’t signed and celebrated in the same way. They have sexist systems that aren’t female friendly. Women don’t often feel safe in music spaces and women behind the scenes at record labels are often passed over for promotion and not nominated for awards like their male counterparts. The first year that the Best Artist category existed was last year when there was no lack of female winners. However, this year, in 2023 there wasn’t a female nominee in the category. Some say it’s as women didn’t have a strong album release cycle, others highlight numerous females who did have strong number one albums. So what to do? Is it better to revert to Best Male and Best Female categories? If that were to happen, where could artists who don’t identify as either fit? Isn’t the point of inclusion to include everybody? If anyone is excluded the industry would be intentionally being exclusive. So whats the solution? Could it be quota’s and human gatekeepers to ensure that every group can be included in the final shortlist? Is that fair?
CONTROVERSY – BEST POP/R&B
Similarly, It’s clearly not a good look to merge the Best Pop and Best R&B categories. R&B has a huge popular scene here in the UK with hundreds of R&B nights and talent who just never have the spotlight shone upon them. Is it racist? Is there an issue with music genres that originate in black music? It’s an ongoing discussion, but with the emergence of acts like Flo breaking through without mainstream support, clearly there needs to be more respect and a platform reserved for every genre.
Cultural tribes and music scenes would rather have their own bespoke category recognised and celebrated without it being on TV if need be, than having their genre remixed into a category which will never show them at all. It’s more powerful to label yourself ”Brit Nominated” than not be acknowledged at all. This is why The Mobo Awards will always be needed. Black music genres strongest and mutate year after year. If the mainstream industry cant keep up then platforms like MOBO, GRM, Rated, LinkUpTV, SBTV and more will fill the gaps and run with the marketing brands big budgets.
The BPI (British Phonographic Industry), who oversee the Brit Awards with the big record labels are aware of the uproar and are working diligently behind the scenes to rectify the awards annually and keep up with the changes required. For full transparency, I am a part of the BPI Equality and Justice Advisory Group -EJAG. Our job and purpose is to advise and challenge the BPI on matters initially focused on race and gender. Our ultimate aim is to further support and promote equality and inclusion in music alongside other industry initiatives. On this occasion our EJAG group weren’t privy to much of the detail behind this years awards, but rest assured, we are all working together urgently to ensure the awards are healthier from the point of inclusion moving forwards.
The entertainment industry tends to be more progressive and early to future trends, whether that’s around sounds, genres, styles, changes in accessibility and more.
Ultimately there will always be friction, tension and challenge in society because inclusion and equity in society is an ever-evoloving thing.
When my great, great grandparents were born historical atrocities like the holocaust and slavery were deemed acceptable. Times evolve healthily with people choosing to challenge the status quo .
When I was born being a part of the LGBTQIA+ community was a taboo, illegal thing. When I was at school there were no diversity opportunities for people like me from under represented backgrounds to even consider being a part of the media industry. When I was at college people talking about the planet and environmentally friendly practises were called hippies and ridiculed. When I worked in my early career at Channel 4 on the biggest pop culture show of the nineties – The Word, and later at MTV as a VJ, Producer, Director and Head Of Production, black British pop stars were practically invisible from mainstream media. It’s good to see that there was a very healthy representation of British black talent from all across the creative industries present and welcomed at the Brit Awards this year. From the performers, to the presenters and host, to the record industry tables and afterparties, the brits from working class backgrounds were certainly represented (probably not in the same volume as private school kids but we were in the house representing!).
It’s hard to put on a great show, tick all the production and TV platform requirements, have great security, positive press, and a show thats remembered for the right reasons. I’m not sure I ever hear a full 100% approval rate for any awards show. What I can say from my many years of experience, research, data and insight is that things have improved steadily, in recent years that improvement has sped up, but it will never be perfect, because as humans and society- we change definitions, identities, and definitions of success all the time.
Once upon a time The Brits and similar shows only shortlisted by commercial sales success. Now those goalposts are shifting to also include the biggest digital and online streaming stars and influencers. Next decade there’ll be something else new that came with new rules and changed the game again.
But whats wonderful is being along for the ride and watching a constantly evolving landscape where music stars are still delivering their best work for us and making our lives better. Where would we be without their willingness to wear their hearts on their Spotify sleeves? Salute the British music industry and its various tentacles. this giant monster that contributes so much to our economy is world beating and i love to see it win!
Salute to my Equality and Justice Group at the BPI (British Phonographic Industry), the BPI team and production company staff who work to make our live shows the best on the planet. This weekend’s Brit show – despite the deserved criticisms and areas that will be improved for the future – was awesome.
We know that there is still much work to be done behind the scenes, and will be forever more because inclusion and equity shape shift all the time and awards show too must change and pivot to reflect the whole of society.
In an ever changing world where still new voices will need to be welcomed at every turn, it will never be perfect but it’s definitely stronger as we move together.
The public see the razzle dazzle of the main show but they don’t see the incredible funds that are raised for The BRIT School to enable young people from all backgrounds to aspire to a career in the creative arts. Watching the BRITs School students annually engage with the show is the most JOY!
Nurturing the future of creative talent with The BRIT School and promoting diversity and inclusion in performing arts and technology, all the teams pulling together behind the scenes are helping to develop the talent of tomorrow by empowering people of all backgrounds today.
I’m honoured & delighted to be joining the Board of Arts Emergency -an organisation I’ve long admired, who support young people across the country to flourish in creative industries.
I’ve always thrived around young people and their energy to create new things, in new ways, with new rules and the mentoring I’ve done has always taught me as much as I pass forward.
When young people from under-represented backgrounds are stopped from achieving their greatness due to lack of access I have always tried to find a way for them through those locked doors and mentioned them in rooms where they have no access. So the work that Arts Emergency do is very important for the future of young people in creative industries as well as this countries future economy, landscape and who has the right to be a part of that world.
Dedicated to levelling the playing field – I’m excited for the work ahead with CEO Neil Griffiths and his team, as well as Chair of our Board Perminder Mann , fellow new trustee Binda Patel , fellow trustee Yomi Adegoke and two stellar young people – Chloe Heywood and Sam Oddie.
So many of my connections oversee and advocate for various arts and creative industries.
It would mean the world to me if you took a look at Arts Emergency’s work and see whether you might be interested in getting involved?
Often my TV Production and media work involves discussions around inclusion diversity and safe spaces in the creative world.
When I mentioned to a friend that I was dying to get my haircut she mentioned a great salon to me in Portobello Road. She said it has a hipster reputation but it’s values and ethics are in line with mine 100% So I had to check it out.
It’s called Blue Tit @bluetitlondon and with a beautiful synergy – it’s in my fave local haunt of Portobello Road.
I’ve walked past it a million times not being aware of the stellar situation behind the front door! Firstly, it doesn’t look like your typical hair salon. It’s minimal with Notting hill spirit and energy. Earthy wall tones with an abundance of green plant foliage. This design reflects the organic products they use and their focus on being environmentally friendly.
My pal told me that I’d love this place because everything that their stylists are trained in is to do with inclusion and diversity at it’s heart (Initially I thought well that’s strange?…I mean with a hair salon how does that work? What does it even mean?) The journalist in me asked a hundred questions and soon found out.
At @BlueTitLondon they’ve trained all their Stylists to work on all hair types, specially textured and afro hair. They want everyone to feel welcome. They also want to eliminate the barriers in salons for textured and afro hair types. To that end they are also the UK’s first Bcopr certified Salon group.
Firstly they train their stylists in their salon to be totally accessible, sensitive to and supportive various different groups of people and to understand their needs. They have an educator called Mads who trains the stylists in hair industry inclusivity..
They are trained in disability awareness. So if you had someone for example who was blind or needed sighted guidance, they would know how to make their customers feel safe and supported both verbally and physically, where to stand, how to touch and guide, as well as how to use language and words to describe hair procedures and looks as well as accommodate their guide dogs.
The stylists are also trained in race inclusion. For example, you don’t just go to any salon if you know you have a certain hair type. If you have afro hair then you are likely to go to a specialist afro hair salon who specialise in working with black hair. But at Blue Tit every stylist is trained in basic afro textured and the next step is all their stylists will have enhanced training various different hair textures.
There’s also an emphasis on hair care for pregnant and breastfeeding women. In fact whilst I had my own hair washed, my neighbour was a young woman with a baby gurgling away happily.
Speaking of the hair wash area, omg! It’s the first time in my life that the wash basin has comfortably accommodated by neck and head as I’m only 5,1”(shorter people like me need inclusion awareness too LOL!), and like airport lounges – the chairs are bed loungers. Bliss is the only way I can describe the wash and head massage that my colourist Leanne gave me.
They are trained in being on alert to various people’s needs and being on an emotional wavelength with each client.
I was intrigued about my area in the salon which had the possibility of being sectioned off with a heavy velvet curtain around us. I was told that this area could be a private and curtained off cubicle section for people who might want to be more discreet for medical (chemotherapy which leads to hair loss), or religious reasons (removing a scarf in public) .
I have to say I was shocked I didn’t realize so much thought could go into hair industry inclusion. It was brilliant to learn about all these things that can make a big difference to people. After all, after the pandemic we all and know how much we value both our safe spaces and our hairdressers!
We don’t just let anyone touch our hair. It’s the reason we have our favourite hair stylist , the reason we wait months to see our favourite hair salon , and why our hairdressers know our deepest secrets.
So Blue Tit is somewhere that ensures that everyone is included in a safe space.
I also salute their commitment to being a sustainable and responsible business. They believe great hair should not come at a cost to the environment.
So alongside their latest collaboration with hair care brand Oway, Blue Tit uses 100% biodegradable towels, EcoHeads, recycles over 90% of its waste and use recycled or upcycled materials wherever possible in all their spaces….,. surely all salons should be doing this in the current climate
All the products in the salon are natural and paraben free. In fact, If you buy products from here, when they run out, you can bring back the empty bottle for a top up and get 15% off. So even the planet loves this place.
It’s also the first time I’ve experienced Biodegradable reusable towels, which saves energy as you’re not washing big heavy towels daily. Furthermore all their hair treatments are totally natural.
At the back of the salon there is a cocktail bar full of a huge array of drinks both alcoholic and soft as well as herbal teas! It was too early in the morning to indulge in a cocktail so I had an elderberry water with a thin slice of orange which was lush!
The stylists all had a sense of fun and are all very warm welcoming and friendly to everyone.
My hair had been looking like a brassy blonde block instead of the textured “I spent the last year on a Brazilian beach” look’ that I wanted. But the lovely Leanne fixed me up!
My cut was by Charlie who was charming, so much fun, upbeat and asked questions about my hair and needs like no other stylist before. He told me that he’s worked all across London and the part of London where people live, tend to dictate various hairstyles that people request. Charlie tells me that when he worked in Bethnal Green for example, clients would request their favourite K Pop band hair styles, vegan mullets and more lol. (London is a stereotype of itself now!).
My colour was by Leanne who was chatty, friendly and clearly a huge advocate for inclusion. Both shared how powerful their inclusion sessions had been and why every hair salon in the country should be able to passionately cater to every single member of society.
I only spent three hours at Blue Tit but felt like I’d been on a mini spa break. Yes it is hipster and uber cool – created with the instagram generation in mind – but that made me love it more! I really recommend it.
There’s a Blue Tit in Dalston, Peckham Brixton, Oxford Street and here in Portobello Road.
Even if it’s for a one-off treat it’s worth experiencing what true inclusion means when it’s juxtaposed with values and ethics in the hair styling industry. 10/10!
This past two months have been mega busy with me Series Producing Series 2 of the Channel 4 discussion show UNAPOLOGETIC.
Hosted by digital influencer and presenter Zeze Millz and Radio and TV Broadcaster Yinka Bokinni, the show airs every Wednesday at 11.05pm and dives into a handful of weekly topical conversations which have had the internet and young social media platforms buzzing. (Don’t worry if the show is on too late for you to watch live- due to the usual TV ad-share reasons where advertisers want to book slots with huge ratings which leaves ”specialist content” in graveyard slots…you can-like young digital audiences- watch every show back on ALL4!)
Our two hosts made history by being the first young, black, female lead lineup for a British mainstream TV show and are joined weekly by a panel of three VIC’s (VERY IMPORTANT COMMENTATORS), as well as expert opinion guests with real lived experiences and very strong polarising opinions.
Topics have so far included trending topics like British acting superstar John Boyega stating he ONLY DATES BLACK and whether this is racist?, Whether it’s the era of the sugar baby and sugar daddy?, are Gen Z the least resilient generation?, has diversity in politics made any difference?, the discourse around colour-blind-casting, whether celebrity LGBTQIA+ allies are hypocrites for attending the Qatar World Cup and whether shows like Love Island are bad for us.
The show is a fast turnaround show each week, with young black talent and fast rising influencers and celebrities thrown into the mix.
The North London studio each week is buzzing with 360 camera excitement, selfies and stories being created onset by all the guests as well as the SBTV Digital team and it’s a rollercoaster ride every week! There is always Zeze’s dog Dave running around getting loved on by everyone onsite. There are always boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts gifted by our exec Brenda Edwards. Theres always a buzzing gallery of screens adjacent to an always spinning 360 platform for the various influencers milling around getting mic’ed up for the studio. It’s fun, young and throws all the usual telly status quo rules out of the window.
The backstage crew are a talented fresh mix of young TV Production teams who are fast rising TV stars in their own right working across numerous mainstream TV Series.
The show is CO Exec Produced by the brilliant team at Cardiff Productions led by former BBC Head Honcho ‘s Pat Younge and Maxine Watson. The show is also CO Exec Produced by the stellar SBTV team led by the multi faceted Brenda Edwards, and Isaac Densu.
One week early in the series i glanced across to my right as we were filming and gasped with surprise and delight as I observed a whole set full of black crew! More than I’d ever seen on any set I’ve worked on across the years, and I’ve been in the game over two decades. It was a great feeling to see such a mix of inclusive talent from under represented groups and Channel 4, Cardiff Productions and SBTV are changing the game with this set up.
I also loved working on the show as I got to meet and work with so many of my favourite online personalities who I have been following and fan-girling over for years, like Kelechi Okafor!
Salute Zeze & Yinka and the whole UNAPOLOGETIC TEAM for holding the reins of this show & keeping all the celebs & influencers in check all series.
Topical discussions from a younger than your usual perspective on British TV.
Throwing the usual TV rules out. Refreshing. Different. Unique!
The Voice Newspaper celebrates its 40 Year Anniversary this month and as part of its alumni, myself and other asian and black writers who were given an opportunity to write early in our careers, were asked to write some words.
Below is my love letter of gratitude to The Voice.
Dear The Voice
Writing a weekly column for you, for over 15 years, has been one of the greatest privileges of my professional life, and for that, I want to thank you.
When I was approached in 1999 by Tricia Liverpool and Lee Pinkerton about writing a regular weekly column called Jasmines Juice in The Voice, I was excited, humbled, anxious, and honoured.
As a young student running off to college, I had been religiously running to the newsagents to pick up The Voice weekly to keep up with my favourite writers of colour for many years, so to be asked to also contribute was a joy, shock (and way out of my comfort zone as unlike the rest of the incredible writers, I wasn’t a trained writer) and was embarrassed about my lack of writing skills.
I imagine I’d been asked due to my MTV role, which allowed me access to the biggest music and entertainment names. Sharing my interviews and adventures with them with Voice readers became a unique opportunity to give The Voice exclusives with all the content that didn’t make it onto MTV.
Even though I’ve always had a real job in TV, the first few years of my column in The Voice would end with the line ‘’contrary to belief, Jasmine is not just a ghetto it-girl, but a producer at MTV’’….Voice readers would quote that to me when meeting me out on the street.
I received hundreds of emails each month from across the community but mostly from young girls, students and prisoners who were also inspired by the column to be Entertainment journalists. I would offer them work experience at MTV and many of them went on to work at MTV and are now in senior media positions across the industry.
I treasured the tips that arrived from all quarters: the community, music stars, actors, athletes, managers, TV execs, politicians, record labels, trident, friends, foes, the lot! I treasured the people who invited me into their homes, lives and minds weekly (or had me forced upon them). I treasured the opportunity to occasionally help change people’s lives by speaking openly and honestly about topics and issues that we often found taboo, but most of all I treasured starting conversations and giving a voice to those who might not otherwise have one and helped push talent wherever I could via my column.
Additionally, The Voice platform gave me an opportunity to try being a columnist, hone my writing skills and be supported by some incredible editors. The editors were incredible in editing down my copy, which was always WAY too long. Sometimes my long-suffering, brilliant editors – Davina and Dionne – would simply send me back an email that said, ” Jas it needs to be half this length, please resend”. LOL
It didn’t matter where I was in the world or in what time zone, I would deliver my column into The Voice team on time, and they worked all hours and made it happen. I do recall telling Mariah and Jay Z that they had to sail their summer boat into land so I could pick up wi fi so my Voice column could be sent in time! This weekly commitment was important to me.
The impact of my contribution to The Voice on my own career cannot be understated. The voice gave me – a non-black, woman of colour, a long-term (15 years!) seat at the table of a national newspaper, when no other publication would’ve ever seen any potential in doing so.
I didn’t take for granted having been offered a seat at the table as a guest of the country’s biggest national black newspaper. I was incredibly fortunate, and the weekly column gave me even more opportunities to cover stories for TV which I wouldn’t have been offered or connected to without the column.
But more than that, The Voice gave me national visibility, access, and a pipeline into the heart of the black community who in turn reached out to me with hidden stories that I could then amplify on my TV platforms.
For of all this, I always note and pay homage-the black community. You all have a reputation for welcoming everyone and embraced me as a kid growing up in the streets of Southall and Harlesden. You are warm, inviting, non-judgmental cultural leaders and innovators and for that cultural adoption and taking me in your arms I will forever thank you.
Over the years The Voice gave so many new young writers who were black and Asian their first breaks- to shape their critical thinking – and a public facing platform with the most inclusive community I’ve ever been lucky enough to be culturally adopted by, and for that I will be forever indebted to the brand and its team across the years.
The reason this matters and the impact that this early investment in us had is clear, now that many of us have pipelined into successful careers and many are leading changemakers for inclusion within various industries. We all appreciate the huge opportunity and blessing that we were bestowed.
It was a pleasure and a privilege to have the space to share with readers every week. I still miss it.
GRM Daily produce news, interviews, music videos and other top quality content covering UK rap, drill, grime and popular culture.
The annual GRM Awards-The Rated Awards, and now the annual GRM Gala are two of the most coveted events to be at for young pop culture and black excellence talent. Their cocktails list is my favourite thing as it’s always based around the music, genre and artistic talent.
So many people encompassing excellence were in the room, from music stars, actors, social media stars, online content creators, new music acts, legendary old skool UK music acts – it was a great turnout!
There were so many people there, just some of those i spotted and spoke to included actor Daniel Kaluuya, presenter and broadcaster Maya Jama, music manager Kwame Kwaten, George The Poet, presenter and broadcaster ZeZe Mills, musician and author Wretch32, musician and actor Kano, multi-media broadcaster Julie Adenuga,music stars Krept & Konan, 0207 Def Jam UK Co- President Alex Boateng, actor and musician Ashley Walters, A&R at 0207 DefJam Char Grant, musician and producer Shystie, Lethal B, George The Poet, Ivorian Doll, Michael Dappah and so many more.
It was a stunningly affluent room!
Slay In Your Lane authors Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinene were regal.
DJ Pretty Hoodh showed me how to work the camera for the must-do whizzy digital tech camera excitement
The evening was full of great music, the MOST superb fashion looks, breathtaking Kensington Palace gardens and green twinkling lit archways, a heaving red carpet, a string quartet, delicious #GRMgala cocktails, a cigar bar all sponsored by Meta and HennessyAu VodkaRed Bull
I loved the string quartet on the outdoor platform facing the Kensington Palace gardens.
Here there were cigar bars, and cocktail barsSo much fun was had by everyone including @MayaJama Julie AdenugaEddie Kadi @KwajoHousing and ZezeMillz People were congratulating each other on all their various achievements this past year
It was all smiles for @kreptplaydirty @konanplaydirty @AmieDibba @yomiadegoke @lizuvie Irene Ttya
The guys looked so dapper in a variety of textured black tie suits, velvet blazers, yacht deck shoes, pastel suits…
The string quartet was competing with the dj’s, the chatter and the sparkle from so much gold guest energy…..
The Kensington Palace gardens location is so pretty! All I could do was imagine Princess Diana wandering around here years ago…and now it was hosting the black cultural excellence brand that is the GRM Daily #grmgala
#LoveIsland2022 contestant ( and my pal Tonia Buxton daughter) Antigoni obviously didn’t mind missing the Love Island Final as she was having the time of her life with friends.
TV/radio presenter Snoochie Shy was rocking her white Crocs
The gardens, the food and the fashion at the 2022 GRMDAILY #GRMgala were stunning
One of the bespoke unique elements I love about the GRM events is the beautifully crafted, blown up, stunning photo prints of the cultures key faces, which are always dotted around the venues.
Here are a few images by the professional photographers!
Until 2023 – it’s a wrap!
Congratulations to all who continue to champion, contribute and raise up black excellence!
Thanks for continuing to allow me to be a guest at your table – One Love!
After our amazing first half of the Day at the Lux Afrique Polo , we travelled across the country nearly 100 miles, to get to another fabulous party
….. it’s often described as the media party of -well -I would say the year….. but it’s every two years….. and it’s the fab party hosted by my two first ever genius bosses in television – the bosses of Planet 24 – who created genius TV like the Big Breakfast, The Word, Survivor and more….and has a guest list of media folk, a sprinkle of politicians, actors, arts talent, family, friends and neighbours!
A beautiful farm all in the country , with fields for camping, fields covered with bands and dancing people.
Fields filled with giant haystacks and a fairground with carousel, bumper cars, big wheels , ghost train, karaoke, ferris wheels, ice cream vans and a hot air balloon!
Other fields with karaoke…. outdoor areas with swimming pools, indoor areas with swimming pool and pizza oven, limitless good and drinks catering and a hot air balloon and just lovely friendly people!
We hung out having fun until 3am – at 2am we were still on the dodgems – and then camped in their field before breakfast was served on the lawn at 9am.
We stayed overnight and camped with silk pillows, cashmere blankets and we had breakfast on the lawn this morning with yoga stretches and stunning views of hills and fields dotted around with giant Bale’s of hay….(so we also had some hay rolling fun)…..before we drove back home 100miles to London… what an incredible weekend
A magical day surrounded by wonderful, talented, generous people.
This past weekend three of my favourite annual events all happened in the same 72 hour period!
1- Lux Afrique Polo
2- Charlie and Waheed’s summer country home party
3 – The GRM gala
My squad and I packed up the cars with our favourite pillows, blankets, wet wipes and emergency croissants for a 200 mile #GirlsTrip
Firstly it was the annual #LuxAfriquePolo where we were be treated to two polo matches, black opera, carnival dancers, drummers, camels, super cars, summer cocktails, african music, food and fashion!
#LuxAfriquePolo is created by my friend Alexander Amousu. We met when we were kids. Me on MTV/ ChoiceFM, and he had created the R&B Ringtones brand.
Then over the years when I was at MTV, he created excitement by manufacturing gold threaded suits, gold plated phones and tablets and more. He is the king of luxury energy, events and vision! For all his consistent vision, entrepreneurial spirit and putting so much African culture on the British map, I think he deserves an honour – MBE incoming surely!?
My fave- the author and presenter Yomi Adegoke – won the best dressed competition in hot pink!
He’s created his Lux Afrique Polo event over the past 5 years and it’s grown to be a coveted event every summer, bringing together crowds who are celebrating black cultural excellence with mouth watering food, delectable cocktails and more.
The one thing that every event planner now values is numerous photo opportunity spots across the location and Lux Afrique is no different.
The live performances were hosted by my friend, former tap dance partner (when we were kids at the Stratford Theatre Royal), and TV presenter (one of my presenters at MTV Base) – Kat Boyce!
Also in the platinum area was Michael Pussey- otherwise also known as DJ CK Flash and the man who founded the Peckham BMX Club which has nurtured and developed world class Olympians like Kye White.
Performers included Singer Shola Ama and my favourite – Pegasus Opera Company.
For almost thirty years, Pegasus Opera Company has been the home for singers, composers, instrumentalists and directors predominantly, but not exclusively, from diverse African and Asian heritage.
Established in South London and grown from solid and credible roots, they still work out of their home in Brixton. The Company has held true to their founder Lloyd Newton’s credo of ‘harmony in diversity’. They have inspired many to love opera; and they celebrate the music of rich African, Asian and Caribbean diasporas whilst weaving into the fabric of the British performing arts, using creativity to challenge and advocate for positive change.
– 4 super talented chefs cooking up an African infused culinary storm for the platinum VIP guests
BIG UP Victor Okunowo, Elody Kolden, Vivian John, and Louis Ashok!
The Ferraris, camels, helicopters, ponies galloping, stunning black women in high end unique African fashion, bespoke cocktails and a great atmosphere continued well into the evening, but we had to leave at 4pm to make an 80 mile ride for the second event of the day – Charlie and Waheeds (my first TV bosses), country summer party.
I remember when black and brown people used to leave their cultural identities at the door, but now we all joyously embrace our various global backgrounds, cultures and traditions. In that spirit, many guests wore traditional African outfits and the effect was a spectacular community of colour, energy and spirit!
Good Morning Britain producer Funmi Olutoye- who was once upon a time a trainee, training in TV Production with me at Media Trust looked glamorous!
Congratulations Alex, on another year of bringing people together proudly showcasing heritage, culture and unity!