Our team at New Wave pride ourselves in being aware and informed on a wide range of talents in the creative industries. This time around, we decided to highlight some women in the industry that have been breaking boundaries in various forms. This shortlist of 20 inspirational women who are changing the game in the worlds of entertainment and the arts, is created to honour these ladies for possessing the bravery and tenacity to break down doors, while also allowing us to follow in their footsteps as a result.
From Fashion to, Film and Music, here is a list of our 20 Women Breaking Boundaries!
Industry: Photography & Film
Nwaka Okparaeke is a Nigerian and British Film Director and Photographer who is known for her surreal and rich style. Someone who often shares authentic stories from unique perspectives, you can guarantee that if you have your music video directed by Nwaka that it will be whimsical and full of charm. From the video for Roxanne Tataei’s ‘Perfect Fit’ featuring astro-lovers inside televisions to Josie Man’s ‘Grow’ where Josie even levitates in space– all Nwaka’s visual stories have luxurious colour grading and massive conceptual frameworks.
Nwaka is a woman who inspires me because of how she has created a realm of her own in the industry, her photography style is by no means traditional and she toys with the boundaries of what we’d expect on the cover of our favourite magazines. She’s said previously that she wants people to feel free when engaging with her work and this comes across in the way she sets up her shots too, often celestial in positioning, we see her play with light pouring across faces like with her Crack magazine cover featuring Tierra Whack. She recently shot Marcus Rashford on an iPhone for TIME in their Next 100 Most Influential People issue and made it look slick as you can get – Marcus’s height and stature emphasised through her lens. It’s the peaceful, cloud passing symbolism of her photography that really gets me though. She renders her subjects in a timeless way with her style.
Words by Tice Cin
Industry: Creative Writing & Film
Tsitsi Dangarembga is a critically acclaimed writer, director and activist. Born in Mutoko, Zimbabwe she now lives in Harare and works closely with female African film-makers. She has become an inspiration to many women to confront and question the constraints of societies rules. Her work includes the film Everybody’s Child (1995) which told a tale from the perspective of two children encountering many a hardship as they journey into adult life. The film is available on YouTube and has been shown across the globe at festivals, including the renowned Sundance Film Festival. Tsitsi is best known however for her brilliant novel Nervous Condition (1988) – the first edition narrating the history of Tambudzai Sigauke, the teenage daughter of a Shona family growing up in rural Rhodesia in the 60s. Amongst her work in film and books, Tsitsi has also been tirelessly advocating for Zimbabwean rights, last year she was detained and charged for participating in the civic protests in Zimbabwe as protestors came forward to accuse the government of corruption and misgovernance. Previously she has been named by the BBC as one of 100 authors to have shaped the world, and in 2020 her novel was shortlisted for the Booker Prize award.
“You can't go on all the time being whatever's necessary. You've got to have some conviction, and I'm convinced I don't want to be anyone's underdog.” – Tsitsi Dangarembga
Words by Sophia Hill
Making huge strides in the UK film, TV and music scene. Ashleigh Jadee’s artistry has seen her become a key figure in the realms of UK music videos, directing visuals for the names like Roddy Ricch, Ms Banks, M Huncho, Giggs and more. In light of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, Ashleigh is undeniably a talented woman we should celebrate. A testament to hard work, she made early moves in the film and TV industries, directing global campaigns for major brands like H&M and House of CB and photographing household names like Skepta, JME and Wretch 32. Her prowess not stopping there, Ashleigh’s continues to make efforts to pass on her knowledge through mentoring schemes and various panel talks. Giving opportunities to young people and simultaneously uplifting women, authenticity as such is not only commendable but can also more powerful than people sometimes realise.
Innovative, Ashleigh Jadee had an elevating 2019, winning her first award at the Brown Sugar Awards for her impact in the creative industry as a young woman. Also founding own production company Dynasty Entertainment, releasing short films and docs – she is not only been a name worth championing but one we can imagine will be for years to come.
Words by Shanté Collier-McDermott
World renowned, Leomie Anderson is more than a just a model (not that it would be a bad thing, sis slays)
Previously walking cat walks and working with global high-fashion brands such as Moschino, Tom Ford, Giorgia Armani – the list goes on. She notably first appeared in the illustrious Victoria’s Secret Fashion show back in 2015, she has since been made a Victoria’s secret angel. A face of true representation for young dark-skinned women, Leomie has also been a figure that uses her platform positively. Speaking up and out when necessary, she’s a force pushing for change and empowerment – an activist.
The founder of Lapp The Brand, LAPP is a platform specialising in leisure/sportswear for the every-day girl. Its pairing Magazine, features articles from various writers whom touch on content ranging from pop culture controversy to self-help. The LAPP story one not-void of adversity, Leomie had bigger fashion brands imitating her brand and designs, an unfortune many smaller businesses can be privy to – going through the correct streams and not letting herself be silenced, she relaunched LAPP and it has been flourishing ever since.
She continues to strive in all her pockets, a woman that undeniably deserves all her accolades.
Words by Shanté Collier-McDermott
Today, Black women aren’t just taking the film industry by storm, they are leading it. From Michaela Coel to Teyonah Parris black women are showing the world they too can have the spotlight and captivate viewers on the big screen. Lashana Lynch is also one of those women. The Black British actress has made history as the first black female 007 whilst making a name for herself in Hollywood after also starring in Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel as Maria Rambeau.
Hailing from Hammersmith, West London Lynch has described herself as a "London girl through and through." The actress managed to break-through the British film scene after having her feature debut in 2013 with the British Film Fast Girls and starring in 2017 ABC series Still Star-Crossed, produced by Shonda Rhimes. Lynch has shown a genuine, resilient, and self-aware persona on and off camera as she had previously been auditioning for a marvel role (including Black Panther and Spider Man: Homecoming) for 2/3 years before landing her breakout role in Captain Marvel.
Lashana Lynch is a heart-warming example of using a platform for good, as she represents race and sex through her upcoming role in 25th James Bond Instalment No Time To Die. The actress has proved her ability to deliver honest representations through the storytelling of film as seen in Captain Marvel and to be seen in No Time To Die, Lynch is striving to use her voice to create meaningful and authentic performances. As she states in a Bazaar interview “In every project I am part of, no matter the budget or genre, the Black experience that I’m presenting needs to be 100 per cent authentic."
Words by Shorayi Mauluka
The phenomenal Grace Ladoja born in London of Nigerian descent has curated channels and frameworks to execute her goals and ambitions which includes continuous youth and community work. Graces’ notable work stems from partnership deals with Samsung, Vans, and Cottweiler and being the creative director and manager to Grime superstar Skepta! The focus for Ladoja has been connecting cultures and authentically uniting her network to benefit the careers and future of the youth. With a feature in Vogue’s 25 most influential women of the year and an MBE awarded by the Queen of England, Graces’ tenacity to create change in the music industry has been recognised. The pioneer, Grace Ladoja is incessantly active working on brand consultancy, directing her agency Metallic Inc and her Homecoming project in Nigeria. Grace speaks on the Homecoming project with i-D mentioning the venture “…really contributes to the creative culture there, and to their economic independence. It’s about making things in Africa that are built by them, for them. To me, that’s a huge success.” Ladoja has also dedicated her time to help grow the Selby Studio in Tottenham which was curated as part of The Levi’s Music Project in partnership with Skepta. This musical-driven space is specifically for young musicians to exude creativity and develop and guide the next generation of British talents. With the next goal of starting her own record label, Grace evidently is motivated by wanting to make a difference in her community.
Words by Daniella Francis
At only 20 years old, Arlo Parks already has a critically acclaimed album under her belt. Collapsed Sun Beams, her debut album which was released at the end of January this year, reaching number three in the charts. It was curated during a time where the world had come to a halt during the first months of lockdown. But Arlo found the opportunity to construct a piece of art that will undoubtedly project through generations to come. Throughout the current press of the West-London native, she has continuously been described as the voice of generation Z. A reflection of this is her latest venture as a mental health ambassador for the mental health charity, CALM. It was only in 2018 where the singer-songwriter and poet were catapulted into the limelight, with the release of the single, Cola, and ever since she has made a notable name for herself.
As a small glimpse to the future legacy Arlo is creating, in an interview with The Independent she declares that, above all, she wants to be an experience. “I know that sounds very vague, but I want to find a way to incorporate the central themes of the album – the idea of sunlight and the idea of growth, and my love of flowers. I want to incorporate that in some visual way. What I did last time when I was reading poems halfway through the set and giving them to the audience, just having that idea of creating a safe space with my concepts is something I really want to pursue.”
Words by Hiba Hassan
Elenia & Maria
In the past year, we’ve undoubtedly seen the work of Bayy Agency. The Female led creative agency have been making expeditious waves, innovatively putting together campaigns, events, providing creative direction and more. Co-founders Maria and Elenia have both remained consistent contributors in the UK creative field with their own respective brands – coming together for the Agency as well as Table Bayy.
Table Bayy an event showcasing fashion, art and music – pre-lockdown, it proved to be an up-lifting space for creatives and consumers alike. And post-pandemic, we can only expect it’ll go back to being great.
Working with top line musicians such as Ms Banks, Krept, Konan, Headie One, Doja Cat and more. The Bayy Agency’s work stands out, ticking all the right boxes, an independent female founded agency, they’ve presented another lane for budding female creatives to look towards. Most recently commissioning a marketing campaign for Central Cee’s mixtape, Wild West, they aided in taking over West London with unique branding from murals to posters to merchandise – their concepts are genius and deserve their flowers this Women’s History Month.
Yoon Ahn, the designer, DJ, blogger and style idol who holds an abundance of talent. She adores being anything but creative as well as the established jewellery designer for Dior Homme under the acclaimed Fashion Designer Kim Jones. Born in Korea and bred in Seattle, this incredible woman possesses an extensive passion for jewellery design and collaborating with her Japanese rapper husband Verbal in designing jewellery under their renowned label Ambush.
Starting with graphic design, she made her mark by engaging in the notion of high-fashion brands with a purpose.
Nevertheless, in 2002, the design duo created Ambush company that has since flourished immense success in the making. With incredible craftsmanship to work with, the design duo expanded their range of ideas with gold metal chokers, huge gold chains and before you knew it, the word of their brand got out and was soon selling stores. Their creations of eye-catching glam and innovative designs have been seen on the likes of music celebrity A-listers such as Kanye West, Kim Jones, A$AP Rocky, Pharrell Williams and Skepta.
Words by Charlene Foreman
Industry: Photography & Fashion
Industry: Photography & Fashion
Renell Medrano is a 28-year-old photographer from New York City. Bronx-born and raised, Medrano has been building an extensive portfolio since she was 14; with most of her work focusing on her community and heritage. While attending Parsons School of Design for a BFA in photography, she found her love for film cameras. She built a following by publishing her work through Tumblr, and shortly after graduating her freelance career began. Medrano has since shot for several publications and brands, including Vogue, GQ, and Tiffany & Co.; and has photographed a vast range of celebrities – ranging from Jay-Z and Tyler The Creator to Timothée Chalamet. Finding inspiration in the people and experiences that have shaped her, her work showcases the beauty in rawness and unconventionality. In her most recent series, PAMPARA, Medrano visits her homeland, the Dominican Republic. “I took the culture and what we’re known for and exaggerated it”, she says.
Words by Miatta Coomber
Painted By Esther
Industry: Photography & Fashion
Industry: Fashion & Music
If you are a tapped into the UK rap realm, you’ve most definitely seen this woman’s work. Like most creatives, Nayaab Tania - stylist to the scene, plays a supporting role in aiding the artistic vision of our muscians to come to fruition. Having dripped the likes of; AJ Tracey, D Block Europe, Krept & Konan, Nafe Smallz, Mo Stack, Fredo, Mist, Lil Tjay, Jay Critch, Wilfried Zaha, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Dele Ali and many more in the latest luxury drops. The young stylist has already built quite the roster of clients. Majority of which, who have enlisted her as their personal stylist, this finds her pulling garments for their day-to-day wardrobe, music videos, press shots and red carpets. All this success and recognition has all been a result of 5 years of hard work, which gives hope to other stylist-hopefuls out there.
Words by Rehana Harmony
Whitney Asomani & Tasha Demi
Whitney Asomani and Tasha Demi of the Twenty:Two Agency, stand as a testament to spending years following your passion paired with heaps of hard work. Both women, have illustrious careers rooted in entertainment; Whitney - first began working the celebrity and event PR circuit before moving onto a six-year run within music teams at broadcast networks ITV & BT Sport. Before eventually finding her home at Sony, Since 93 RCA specifically. Here she met her, business partner - Tasha, who has been leaving her mark on the music industry for over 10 years, through multiple disciplines such as; marketing, TV, PR and artist management. Grasping the opportunity to generate even more change within the industry from an independent level, the ladies united during the pandemic to launch their creative agency which they believe represents “The music industry of today, the modern landscape, and the new way of working.” Over the course of Twenty:Two’s infancy, it has racked up an impressive roster of clients including; ADA, Atlantic, The Orchard, Universal Music UK, AWAL, Ditto, Tape London, Tamera, M24, Morgan, Nafe Smallz, NSG and Young Fume.
Words by Rehana Harmony