Black Girl Gamers Founder Shares How She Intersected Entertainment, Fashion and Beauty With Gaming

Black Girl Gamers Founder Shares How She Intersected Entertainment, Fashion and Beauty With Gaming

Meet Jay-Ann Lopez, the award-winning Founder and CEO of Black Girl Gamers, Co-Founder of Curlture, and proud BAFTA member and judge.

Jay-Ann founded Black Girl Gamers with the mission of advocating for diversity and inclusion while amplifying Black women’s voices in the gaming industry. With Black Girl Gamers, Jay-Ann has built brand partnerships aimed at increasing Black women’s equity in the industry in the form of talent brokering, consulting, innovative marketing solutions, events, and content.

Her advocacy doesn’t stop in the gaming industry. Jay-Ann expands her continued push to amplify Black women in the beauty space with her Curlture brand where she celebrates Black beauty and culture and addresses important issues on identity, self-love, natural hair, and everything in between.

Jay-Ann combines all of her efforts into her Gamer Girls Night, an event she co-produces with NNESAGA, which serves as the first women and non-binary-focused event that combines gaming, beauty, and fashion and proves that girls, women, and non-binary individuals can do it all!

Speaking exclusively with BLACK ENTERPRISE, Jay-Ann shares the inspiration behind her companies and mission to spread the Black Girl Gamers movement globally.

Tell us about the inspiration behind Black Girl Gamers.

I was looking to meet and connect with other people that play games. I didn’t want to engage with the current culture in gaming which was sexist, racist, and exclusionary. I wanted to find women like me and from my prior experience with Curlture I learned how to curate online communities.

What are some of the ways Black Girl Gamers works toward equity and inclusion in the gaming industry?

We work in five ways to increase equity and inclusion in the gaming industry and beyond:

  1. Consultancy– Our team has consulted for a number of clients, including Square Enix, Maybelline Cosmetics NY, alcoholic beverage companies, and TV & Film production companies to lead to their successful integration and/or execution of their projects, products, or campaigns.
  2. Community – For eight years (and counting), Black Girl Gamers has held the status of the largest gaming safe space for Black Women in the world. We aim to keep our members safe and connected whilst also offering education opportunities to demystify career paths in gaming for our community members and exposing them to other aspects of the industry through events and mentorship programs.
  3. Events – We’re known for creating innovative, inclusive, and unique event experiences for all levels of gamers. Past events have included a Pass the Pad event series in partnership with Belong Gaming Arenas, Gamer Girls Night In, store takeovers, integration into Adidas events like #MadeOriginals Blue Space, and experiential movie screenings in partnership with film studios.
  4. Content – Across all of our social media platforms, we generate and execute content concepts that stand out against the status quo, often innovating in the gaming space. Some of which include press junket content, red carpet interviews, game side chats, and our proprietary gameshow Play or Pass.
  5. Talent – BGG Talent is our talent brokering verticle where we are the trusted partners of our clients to source and broker the amazing talent we have within our global community. As part of our mission, we are dedicated to giving Black Women more equity in the gaming industry. Past clients have included H&M, Google, Samsung, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Benefits Cosmetics, and various TV casting agencies in the US and Europe.

What are your plans for expanding Black Girl Gamers?

I want to continue to increase equity for Black women in a variety of ways. We want to partner with companies to provide programs and partnerships to advance Black women, create a job board for Black women with opportunities in various industries, make impactful events in the US market, expand BGG’s talent arm, look to create new and fresh content from the Black woman gamer perspective and bring on investors to expand our US and UK teams.

We are also looking to partner and consult with non-gaming brands to help them enter into the gaming industry (fashion, beauty, music, etc). And give them a perspective that doesn’t just center around white male gamers.

What has the response been like to your Gamer Girls Night In and what’s your mission behind the event?

Gamer Girls Night In is a co-produced event between Black Girl Gamers and Nnesaga, and though my work for Black Girl Gamers focuses on Black Women and non-binary people; I also wanted to create an impact and an empowering space for all women/femme-identifying and non-binary people. Gamer Girls Night In is one of my love letters to the industry; it’s one of the first events to be created from a non-male lens and it combines gaming, beauty, and fashion. The response has been overwhelming after both events, they both sold out with international demand including the USA, hence my move to the States to expand Black Girl Gamers and GGNI.

Tell us about the inspiration for your Curlture brand and any plans for its future.

Curlture was inspired by our need for a conversation about Black hair, culture, and self-esteem. At the time, there was a huge amount of discourse in the States but it was very much underground in the UK, so we created Curlture to help bring meaningful conversations about Black hair and its interaction with the Black psyche to the forefront. Due to my move, we’re no longer working on the platform, but we’re leaving our page up and our book, KINK, is still on sale as a legacy and love letter to Black people everywhere.

Any upcoming projects we should know about?

We do have things in the works at the moment that are under wraps. We have plans to do more events in the UK and US and we’re working with some major brands for the upcoming years.