As the world turns its attention to the 2012 London Olympic Games, take a look at male power players in the UK’s capital, dominating in the arts, business, education and media. —Octavia Goredema
Hip-Hop Artist, TINIE TEMPAH
Patrick Chukwuemeka Okogwu, also known as award-winning rapper Tinie Tempah, hails from south-east London. His double-platinum debut Disc-Overytopped the UK charts, creating major international buzz.
Founder of the independent label Disturbing London, the rapper has toured with Rihanna and Usher, and performed at Glastonbury with Snoop Dogg. He has won numerous honors including Best International Act at the BET Awards, multiple Brit Awards, and several MOBO Awards.
(Images: Tinie Tempah: Adam Lawrence; Reggie Yates: Phill Taylor)
Politician, CHUKA UMUNNA
Umunna serves the community where he was born and raised, as the elected Member of Parliament for Streatham in South London. He studied law at the University of Manchester, University of Burgundy and the Nottingham Law School.
After just 18 months at Westminster, the MP for Streatham was appointed to the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills in October 2011, leading for the opposition on a wide range of issues including business, enterprise, science and universities. He is also a board member of Generation Next, a nonprofit social enterprise providing resources for London youth.
Singer, Producer, TAIO CRUZ
Jacob Taio Cruz has sold more than 15 million records and is YouTube’s most-viewed UK artist of all time, with more than 250 million combined views. Cruz’s 2010 major label debut, ROKSTARR, featured the hit single “Dynamite,” the most successful single in Island Def Jam history. He was also recipient of three Billboard Music Awards. The first and only UK male solo artist to place two tracks in the Top 10 of Billboard’s year-end Hot 100, Cruz is also the first and only male, UK solo artist to have two consecutive No. 1 singles in the U.S.
His upcoming album, TY.O, features guest appearances by Pitbull and Ludacris and production by Dr. Luke, RedOne and Swedish House Mafia.
Actor, IDRIS ELBA
A Golden Globe winning actor, producer and DJ, Elba spent his childhood in Canning Town, East London.
After starting his TV career in the capital, Elba crossed the Atlantic and became a household name after captivating audiences as Stringer Bell in HBO’s critically acclaimed series, The Wire. His other TV credits include Law & Order, The Office and The Big C. His recent films include Ridley Scott’s Prometheus; Thor, and Ghost Rider.
Elba has also starred in the BBC’s crime drama mini-series Luther and went on to win NAACP Image, BET and Golden Globe awards for his portrayal.
The actor is currently filming The Long Walk to Freedom, a biopic on the life of Nelson Mandela.
Financier, DAMON BUFFINI
Buffini, a partner at Permira, a European private equity firm with global reach, is one of the most influential figures in Europe’s capital markets. The firm advises funds with a total committed capital of approximately €20 billion, employs more than 120 professionals based in Frankfurt, Guernsey, Hong Kong, London, Luxembourg, Madrid, Menlo Park, Milan, New York, Paris, Stockholm and Tokyo.
Buffini graduated with a degree in Law from Cambridge University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. The financier also services as Chairman of the Social Business Trust, a partnership of six leading global companies: Bain & Co, Clifford Chance, Credit Suisse, Ernst & Young, Permira and Thomson-Reuters.
Playwright, Director, KWAME KWEI-ARMAH
Born and raised in greater London, Kwei-Armah is best known for playing the role of Finley Newton in the BBC drama Casualty.. He now serves as the artistic director of Baltimore Centerstage, the state theatre of Maryland.
Kwei- Armah’s triptych of plays set in the Afro-Caribbean community includeElmina’s Kitchen, Fix up and Statement of Regret, premiered at the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain. Elmina’s Kitchen was transferred to the London’s West End in 2005, making him the first black British playwright to receive the honor. This year, Kwei-Armah has been appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to drama by The Queen in the Birthday Honours list.
Web Entrepreneur, JASON NJOKU
Njoku is the founder and CEO of iROKO Partners. The Web company is the largest global distributor of Nigerian music and movies online, attracting viewers in 178 different countries.
Njoku was born and raised in Deptford, south-east London before heading to the north to complete a degree in Chemistry at the University of Manchester. The budding entrepreneur subsequently moved to Lagos, Nigeria and launched iROKO Partners in December 2010. iROKO Partners now employs an 81-person, international workforce in Anthony Village, Lagos, London and New York. Dubbed the “Netflix for Africa” the company recently raised $8 million in funding over two rounds, led by the US-based hedge fund Tiger Global.
Barrister, Poet, DAVE NEITA
Known in the capital as “the People’s Lawyer” and “the People’s Poet,” Neita has built a reputation for representing marginalized individuals and groups. Called to the Bar of England & Wales in 2000, he was a member of the legal team, which brought the largest group action claim in the UK on behalf of thousands of South African asbestos miners.
Neita is also the founder and director of ELECT, a provider of community mental health services. The organization utilizes poetry as a vehicle for expression for patients and professionals in mental health services. An advocate in the London community for raising achievement and aspirations among disadvantaged school children, Neita launched the Elect Education Progam. The initiative has taken school students to 10 Downing Street, the Houses of Parliament, The Supreme Court and The White House.
TV Host, Actor, REGGIE YATES
Raised in Holloway, North London, Reggie Yates discovered a passion for acting while attending Anna Scher’s renowned after school drama club in Islington.
His television career began at age 8, when Yates appeared in seminal black British comedy, Desmonds. A string of television shows followed before Yates joined the BBC’s new black music station, 1Xtra in 2002. He was just 18 years old.
Yates is also host of BBC Radio 1’s Chart Show and co-host of the TV talent show The Voice UK on the BBC network. As an actor, Yates has appeared in ITV2’s eight-part drama Trinity. He also co-stars in his first feature film this year, teen slasher movie Demons Never Die
Author, Screenwriter, COURTTIA NEWLAND
Raised in west London, writer Courttia Newland is lauded by critics for his translation of Black music and youth subcultures. Newland’s first novel, The Scholar, was published in 1997 followed by other acclaimed works including Society Within, Snakeskin, The Dying Wish, and Music for the Off-Key.
Co-editor of IC3: The Penguin Book of New Black Writing in Britain, Newland’s career has encompassed both screenwriting and playwriting. A former writer-in-residence for Trinity College, Dublin and Georgetown University in Washington D.C., Newland’s latest work, The Gospel According to Cane, will be published in February 2013.
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.