Meet the UK’s #YouTubeBlackVoices Creator Class of 2021
Black creators have played an important role in shaping the culture on YouTube. From fashion and comedy to politics, learning and wellness, Black creators have raised the bar for how creators engage with their audience, build community, and propel our platform forward. The #YouTubeBlack community is filled with so many talented, brilliant, passionate, and driven creatives, and we’re honored to equip these awesome creators with additional resources to match their drive.
We’re excited to spotlight Black creatives and to continue to center both their voices and perspectives. As part of that mission, we developed the #YouTubeBlack Voices grant program -- an initiative dedicated to investing in Black creators and artists, and equipping them with the resources to succeed on our platform. This grant program is part of our larger #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund -- a global, multi-year commitment to empower Black creators and artists on our platform, as well as to produce and acquire new YouTube Original programs, focusing on racial justice and Black experiences.
In 2016, some of the largest and most-influential Black creators on YouTube came together for the first-ever #YouTubeBlack Summit. That moment was the start of a movement --both on our platform and off -- that became the #YouTube Black community. Over the years we’ve continued to partner and build specific programming for the #YouTube Black community -- summits, workshops and events like #YouTubeBlack FanFest.
We’re building on that momentum, and today, after many months of collaboration, we’re excited to introduce you to our inaugural class of #YouTubeBlack Voices creator grantees from the United Kingdom, who are part of our 132 creators from across the world who are participating in the Class of 2021.
In the coming months, we will work closely with the Class of 2021. This will include dedicated partner support, seed funding invested into the development of their channels, and participation in an intensive development program that will focus on training in production, community engagement and wellbeing, followed by ongoing workshops and networking programs.
The #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund is only part of the comprehensive work currently underway to make YouTube a place where Black artists, creators, and users can share their stories and feel protected. We continue to invest in product and policy changes to meet that goal. We recently provided an update on our work to make YouTube a more inclusive platform, including how we handle harmful and hateful comments.
This is the first round of investments we are making in creators and artists from the #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund. Over the next few years, we will directly invest in 500+ creators and artists from across the world to support, grow, and fund their channels and content development.
Please meet the #YouTubeBlack Voices Creator Class of 2021!*
Breeny Lee: Breeny Lee started her channel in 2013 creating fashion and beauty content. Over the years, she’s transitioned into more motivational and lifestyle content, becoming YouTube's "Big Sis." She creates inspiring content on self-worth, self-esteem and relationships, using psychology, faith and real-life experiences to help her audience become the best version of themselves.
Chanel Ambrose: Chanel Ambrose is a beauty, fashion and lifestyle creator who shares her family and life experiences through her vlogs. She is married and has two boys, ages 11 and 3. Chanel recently purchased her dream home, which she shared with her YouTube community.
Courtney Daniella: Courtney Daniella is 23-year-old trying to navigate adulting, entrepreneurship and relationships, while discovering who she is and becoming who she wants to be. She started her channel while in her first year at Cambridge University, documenting her experiences as one of the few Black students, and has since played an important role as a champion of increased diversity in applications and enrollment at Cambridge. Courtney sees herself as an online big sister, sharing every part of her self-discovery, so that anyone watching can embrace their journey of discovering who they are and becoming who they want to be.
The Cyber Nerds
The Cyber Nerds
The Cyber Nerds: Joe, Raven, and Sam are three best friends arguing about movies, games, and comics. Collectively known as The Cyber Nerds, their journey started in a cramped bedroom in the heart of East London. They had a vision to connect with as many 'nerds' who felt alone in the world, when it came to talking and expressing their passion for the nerd culture. From those humble beginnings, they have built a community across the globe.
Dr Amina Yonis
Dr Amina Yonis
Dr Amina Yonis: By day, Dr. Amina Yonis is a scientist, lecturer and teacher. By night, she creates YouTube videos to help students graduate and to diversify the face of academia. Amina created her channel in 2016 to share and inspire others through education, experience and travel. She is a graduate of four British universities and holds a PhD in Cell and Cancer Research.
Grace Victory: Grace Victory focuses on self-awareness, healing and therapy, and as she’s currently waiting to become a first-time parent, expects her channel to grow to focus on family life and conscious relationships. Grace is the author of two books and has made numerous documentaries. She is also in training to become a therapist.
The Humble Penny
The Humble Penny
The Humble Penny: Ken and Mary Okoroafor are the creators of The Humble Penny and Financial Joy Academy. They are on a mission to help 10,000+ families achieve financial independence this decade. Ken and Mary are first-generation immigrants who achieved financial independence at 34, in addition to becoming 100% debt- and mortgage-free. This motivated them to share their story and experiences to help others, which they started by creating their YouTube channel in 2019. They create actionable personal finance content to demystify money and help their community use money as a tool to design their lives.
James and Kiimmy
James and Kiimmy: Kenyan-born Kiimmy Kimani and her partner, James, are lifestyle creators. They share their daily lives through their vlog, compete in challenges for their regular segment, ‘Team James vs. Team Kiimmy,’ and host advice and question times. They aim to educate, inspire, and empower people through their content, as well as share some positivity.
King Jae: King Jae first started his journey as a content creator in 2007, filming up-and-coming artists like Dave, Stormzy, Krept And Konan, J Hus — who have since had huge music careers. King Jae moved into gaming in 2015, and as his success has grown, he’s been featured on billboards and in campaigns.
Mayowa A: Mayowa began her YouTube journey when she 17, with a camera and passion to create engaging and helpful content on the platform. Three years later, she’s continued her love for creating YouTube videos with content centered around having fun—while always bringing something new and different to the table. She takes part in challenges, group videos with friends and family, vlogs, hauls and more. Recently, she achieved a milestone of 10,000 subscribers and is excited for the journey ahead.
Michael Dapaah: British-born Ghanian Michael Dapaah first gained attention as the star and creator of the hugely popular YouTube mockumentary series, SWIL, aka ‘Somewhere in London.’ His popularity skyrocketed when his portrayal of ‘Big Shaq’ went viral with the freestyle ‘MAN’S NOT HOT,’ which achieved UK Top 3 chart success and remained in the charts for 25 weeks. This year, Michael’s focus is to delve deeper into writing, content creation and acting; turning his viral, comedic and scripted ideas into more on-screen successes, targeted toward the young and diverse audience who engage with his every move.
Natalee B Fitness
Natalee B Fitness
Natalee B Fitness: Natalee is a 21-year old student at the University of Birmingham who started her journey on YouTube in 2018, making in-depth fitness videos. She has seen rapid success, as her channel grew quickly to reach audiences around the world and help thousands of girls reach their fitness goals.
Ocean: Ocean began documenting his journey as a music producer in 2017, sharing as he navigates the music industry. He creates tutorials, demonstrates his song-making process and vlogs about his life as a producer in London.
Paige Mariah: Paige Mariah is a digital content creator originally from Chicago. She started her YouTube channel in 2015, sharing personal style, weight loss and health content. However, after arriving to live and study in London in 2019, she began documenting her experiences abroad through weekly vlogs. She now uses her platform to share everything from her favorite discoveries while exploring London, to her new journey pursuing self-employment. Her goal is to encourage anyone to “create the life of your dreams.”
Scola Dondo: Scola Dondo is a 25-year-old personal trainer, content creator and television presenter. Scola started making videos during her teens and embarked on a weight-loss journey, which she documented on her channel. Scola went on to qualify as a personal trainer in order to continue to help others achieve their fitness goals. Due to her success on YouTube, Scola has been presenter on the BAFTA-nominated CBBC show, 'Lifebabble', and is a regular on the BBC Own It app.
So Vegan: So Vegan began three years ago with the mission to make it easy for everyone to eat more plants. Co-founders Roxy Pop and Ben Pook are all about making veganism more accessible by creating fuss-free, affordable and flavoursome food. They released their first cookbook, “So Vegan” in 2018 and their second cookbook, “One Pot Vegan,” in July 2020.
Suli Breaks: Suli Breaks is a London-based performance poet. His YouTube journey began in 2010, and he gained wider appeal with a viral hit video in 2012. He penned a joint song on Kasabian’s fifth studio album, the number one-charting “48.13,” and did the same with Faithless’ first studio album in over 10 years. His channel focuses on educating people through his creative writing, by combining it with cinematic visuals and live performance.
Tasha Green: Tasha Green’s channel started out of a need for creative release during an uninspiring phase of university. Since then, what started as a hobby has become her career. Tasha’s videos focus on fashion, beauty, and lifestyle vlogs as a way to share who she is with the world. Last year she released her own lipstick shade in partnership with Bobbi Brown, and she likens the community of people who have championed her online success as a family she never knew she had.
Thato Fox: Meet Thato Fox, YouTube’s cooler, younger agony aunt. She moved from Johannesburg, South Africa, to London and is taking her YouTube audience with her as she figures out her new life. Thato finds herself giving a lot of advice and guidance — from combating self-esteem issues to where you can find the best wigs.
Vanessa Kanbi: Vanessa Kanbi is a Scottish-Ghanaian filmmaker, podcaster and presenter who has a passion to shine a light on untold stories. Vanessa started her YouTube channel following the birth of her second child. She wanted to be able to do something creative from home, which would have an impact and be helpful to the wider society. She decided to dedicate her channel to showing Ghana to the world. Vanessa’s videos include all aspects of life in Ghana for both tourists, residents and people looking to make the move. Vanessa has appeared in BBC Scotland's documentary, “Black and Scottish,” and BBC Scotland’s, “The Peoples News.” She has regular appearances on STV’s Scotland Tonight in “Talkin’ Heids” and BBC Radio Scotland’s “Bad Parents Club.” She also has a successful podcast called “Magnificent Mothers,” in which she interviews mothers about their life stories and experiences.
The Wall of Entertainment
The Wall of Entertainment
The Wall of Entertainment: Wall of Entertainment was founded by Percelle Ascott, Joivan Wade and Tafara Makopa in 2015. Since then, the trio has amassed over 5 billion views. Percelle and Joivan first started on YouTube with the critically acclaimed ‘Mandem on the Wall,’ which they created in reaction to the lack of opportunities they had as actors. That first video series became one of the first to transition from online to television on Channel 4. Since then, they have gone from strength to strength, producing and starring in short films and videos. They pride themselves on being leaders in creating short-form content for youth audiences, nurturing new talent, and representing their culture on screen.
Word on the Curb
Word On The Curb
Word on the Curb: Word on the Curb is exclusively devoted to creating edutainment: entertaining but also thought-provoking reality content that spurs dialogue. Creators Ndubuisi Uchea and Hayel Wartemberg use recognisable formats — such as gameshows, dating shows, singing and dancing competitions, and panel shows — to connect with millennial and Gen Z audiences on the basis of identity and cultural exploration. Word on the Curb were winners of the Deutsche Bank Creative Entrepreneurs Award in 2020.
*Some participants in the #YouTubeBlack Class of 2021 have chosen not to appear in this list