With the 2012 London Olympic Games already under way, the world’s attention is centered on the UK’s capital, rooting for sports victories.
London, the world’s most-visited city, has a global reputation for excellence, and as the excitement of the XXX Olympiad continues, we take a look at 11 female power players who dominate the fields of business, entertainment, media and the arts. —Octavia Goredema
Jewelers, NATASHA FAITH & SEMHAL ZEMIKAEL
La Diosa jewelry has been worn by the world’s most powerful women including Oprah Winfrey, First Lady Michelle Obama and the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton.
Co-founders Natasha Faith and Semhal Zemikael met while studying at Sir George Monoux college in East London. Faith and Zemikael were inspired to launch their company after traveling the world, learning to make jewelry in Mexico. The award-winning company now operates from an official showroom in London’s jewelry quarter, Hatton Garden.
The design duo also serves as young ambassadors for The Prince’s Trust, a charity supporting the country’s most disadvantaged youth.
Social Entrepreneur, SONIA MEGGIE
Meggie is the founder of Inspirational YOU, a program that seeks to empower, educate and connect students, graduates, leaders and entrepreneurs.
The South London-based company hosts networking events, debates, conferences and workshops at prestigious venues including the UK Supreme Court.
Inspirational YOU has been supported by corporations including Pearsons, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, ITN, Sky, Daily Mail, the BBC and the University of London.
Actress, NAOMIE HARRIS
Raised in Finsbury Park, North London, Naomie Harris’ first major breakthrough performance came in 2002 with 28 Days Later. She received further acclaim in the blockbuster film franchise Pirates of The Caribbean.
On television, Harris starred in the BBC’s Small Island and the UK’s popular TV adaptation of Zadie Smith’s bestselling novel,White Teeth.
The actress graduated with honors from Cambridge University before training at the prestigious Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. She has won various awards, including Best Actress at The Royal Television Society Awards and the Screen Nation Awards.
Harris will next appear in Nelson Mandela biopic Long Walk To Freedom opposite Idris Elba. She will also star in the upcoming James Bond installment Skyfall, set to release in the U.S. Nov. 9.
UN Official, BARONESS VALERIE AMOS
Amos was the first black woman appointed to a British Cabinet and the first black Leader of the House of Lords. She is formally known as The Right Honourable Baroness Amos of Brondesbury in the London Borough of Brent. As a Minister in the British Government, she worked to tackle poverty in Africa by increasing aid flows through debt relief initiatives and promoting private-sector investments.
Appointed to the United Nations in September 2010, Amos is responsible for the oversight of all emergencies requiring humanitarian assistance. She manages governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental relief activities.
Educated in the London Borough of Bexley, she is Chair of the Royal African Society, a member of the Fulbright Commission and a Fellow at the Oxford University’s Centre for Corporate Reputation.
Author, ZADIE SMITH
Smith is the best-selling author of White Teeth, The Autograph Man, On Beauty and the essay collection Changing My Mind.
Her books have won multiple honors including the Whitbread Book Award, the Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Literary Prize, and the Orange Prize for Fiction. White Teeth was adapted for TV in 2002.
Born in Brent, north-west London, Smith studied English Literature at Cambridge University. In 2010 she joined New York University as a Professor of Creative Writing.
Smith’s latest novel, NW, will be released by Penguin Press Sept 4.
(Image: Dominique Nabokob)
Space Scientist, MAGGIE ADERIN-POCOCK
Londoner Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Ph.D., is a space scientist committed to inspiring the next generation of astronauts and engineers. At Astrium, Europe’s leading space company, Aderin-Pocock is responsible for a range of projects including the development of satellite sub-systems. She studied at Imperial College, London, obtaining a degree in physics and a Ph.D in mechanical engineering.
Appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) by The Queen in 2009, Aderin-Pocock was also awarded an Honorary Fellowship from the British Science Association. She has addressed more than 50,000 people across the globe and established Science Innovation Ltd., to show school children and adults the wonders of space.
Makeup Artist, PAT MCGRATH
Global Creative Design Director for Procter & Gamble Beauty, McGrath collaborates on products for Cover Girl, Max Factor and D&G cosmetics and has been instrumental in developing cosmetics for women of color with P&G Beauty.
Born and raised in Northampton, England, McGrath was endowed with an honorary professorship from The London College of Fashion in February 2009. She has received numerous awards including the Marie Claire Prix D’Excellence Best Make Up Artist award. Her expertise is sought for fashion shows, ad campaigns and magazine shoots across the globe.
In 2008, McGrath was involved with Italian Vogue’s iconic Black Girls July issue that sold out around the world.
Model, JOURDAN DUNN,
London-born, Dunn made headlines in 2008 as the first black model to walk for a Prada show in more than a decade. Discovered while shopping with a friend at Primark in Hammersmith, west London, Dunn signed to Storm Models in London and Women Management in New York.
She has walked in Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren and Salvatore Ferragamo shows in New York and Milan and has since been voted the British Fashion Council’s “Model of the Year.” She was also one of four cover models selected for Italian Vogue’s iconic “Black Models” issue, and has been featured in American, Italian, Russian, French, Japanese and British Vogue.
In 2011, Dunn became the face of Burberry and signed a cosmetics contract with Yves Saint Laurent.
CEO, MediaCom UK, KAREN BLACKETT
Blackett head’s Britain’s biggest media buying group. In 2003 and 2005 she was voted by Management Today as one of “35 Most Powerful Women Under 35” in the UK. Blackett has worked with a range of clients at MediaCom including Warner Films, Tag Heuer watches, IPC Media, Audi, the Metropolitan Police and Wrigley’s.
Karen began her career in 1993 at CIA MediaNetwork before joining Zenith Media in 1995. She then went on to work for companies including The Media Business Group and EMEA.
In her spare time, Karen works with The Bright Ideas Trust charity, helping entrepreneurs start business ventures.
Choreographer, AICHA MCKENZIE
Aicha McKenzie is founder and CEO of AMCK Management, an international dance agency and AMCK Models, the only all-male model agency in the country. AMCK also represents dancers, choreographers, creative directors, makeup artists, stylists and stage and lighting designers.
Born and bred in South London the former rhythmic gymnast was the first black British champion in her field. She has worked with superstars including Rihanna, Katy Perry, Kanye West and Madonna. Her company’s corporate clients include Victoria’s Secret, Nike, and the 2012 Olympic Games, as a choreographer for sports presentations.
Newscaster, CHARLENE WHITE
White is responsible for breaking news stories to Britons and Londoners as a presenter and reporter for ITV1 and ITV London. White’s extensive career has encompassed print, TV and radio as a reporter, producer and broadcaster for media companies including the BBC and the New York Post.
White graduated from London College of Printing with a degree in journalism, and also mentors and teaches young professionals at community radio stations, schools and colleges.
Octavia Goredema is founder of relocation resource Crash Course City and the Twenty Ten Club, an award-winning organization designed to connect, inspire and support Black female entrepreneurs.