LEADERS — these are not photographs, they’re stories

The Story of Britain’s diverse talent and their impact in the creative industry as you’ve never seen before.

Dr David Dunkley Gyimah
6 min readFeb 3, 2020

One of my favourite projects, I’ve co-created.

SAMPLE OF THE LIST. PLEASE NOTE THESE PHOTOS WILL CHANGE TO REFLECT THE LIST : Sir Lenny Henry — Actor, Comedian, Producer, Exec Producer; Maxine Watson — Director of Programmes, Twenty Twenty; David Olusoga — Producer of historical programmes; Angela Ferreira, MD Douglas Road Productions; Jasmine Dotiwala — Broadcaster, Exec producer, Head of Youth Media; Pat Younge — CEO of Sugar Films, producer of factual programmes; Marcus Ryder — Diversity media champion, Exec Producer, @Caixin; Ade Rawcliffe, Head of Diversity for ITV Commissioning; Brenda Emmanus — Producer of cultural, entertainment and arts programmes; David P. Davis — Script Editor, Dr Who; Eloise King — Exec Producer for Vice.com; Joanna Abeyie OBE, MD Hyden S Three; Aaqil Ahmed Ofcom, Professor, fmr Head of BBC Religion ; Miranda Wayland, BBC’s Head of Creative Diversity; Simon Frederick, Photographer, Filmmaker, Black is The New Black, BBC; Harjeet Chhokar, Series Producer.

Inspired by the iconic “A Great Day in Harlem” which featured 57 Jazz musicians in New York City by freelance photographer Art Kane for Esquire magazine (August 12, 1958).

The secret behind this photo begs you to look closely. You may find some are holding something. In fact they all are. This is one giant super selfie, where everybody took their own photo. They were then comped together to form this giant photo, which hangs on the wall. See it’s actual size below

Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced ~James Baldwin.

Britain’s diverse talent tell their stories.

An entirely unique record of the moment around 57 Black and Brown leaders in the media industry came together. The digital project was not unlike the iconic photo “A Great Day in Harlem” that featured 57 of the US’ top jazz greats. Here to the strength and depth of talent was powerfully captured, in a series of portraits, gallery setting, photo book and documentary interviews.

These are their stories, our stories, your stories. Their impact and contribution to the UK’s creative industry is writ large.

It is the role of academia, media and artists to capture these stories — important moments in our collective history. These are moments which reframe public consciousness and shed new light on one of the most pressing issues of our time.

Conceived through a special collaboration within academia and leading diversity champion its use of film and photography should be made available for deeper engagement with wider audiences.

Phase one was the event staged. Phase two is ongoing around co-creating. With your momentum we’d like to invite greater interaction and debate, immersive media engaging our international status in technology. The belief is through events like the Leader’s List we can effect change, change in society that will be properly understood

Here is The Leaders’ List, in its various elements.

Please note this is a mock up. There is no new Leaders’ list planned for 2020


We shot 56 professional crafted photographs that were laid out in a gallery for four days, because of our budget. It included an extraordinary 1x4 metre composite photo made by photographer David Freeman and a behind-the-scene set of photographs.


We focused on a set of intimate questions that revealed personal details about the leaders’ work, their contribution to the creative industry and the challenges they face. These were designed to be reflective and inspirational, as well as revealing to senior industry executives the difficulties that can often be overlooked. Our perceived audience were the public and senior executive from the creative industries.


We felt strongly during the inception of the project that we should publish a book that captured the leaders, and that it should be a legacy. Our initial difficulty was finding a designer who could craft an aesthetic that would interest the public and senior producers in the creative industries. We were very fortunate that Gerald, one of our photographers recommended his cousin, Wayne — an award winning designer who’s worked in the US.


The turnout, according to the Gallery, was its biggest to date. Most of the talent turned up and mingled with execs, students and the public. The DCMS acknowledged our efforts with a letter complimenting our efforts.

We opened the night with performances that included BBC’s The Voice Emmanuel Nwamadi and dancers from a South London school inspired by Alvin Ailey.

Phase 2

We’d like to move the debate into phase 2, find new partners to strategise stories as an integral part of our daily discourse.

Can we harness the power of existing talent to assist new ideas, was part of a theme going forward, so we could exhibit the prints, establish permanent exhibition space, sponsors, and produce a dedicated site incorporating several media gathered during its production, and utilise AI concepts.

Following this event, the Leaders’ list exhibited at the London’s Mayor event and toured schools, where it was well received.

Cover picture: Baroness Lawrence, amongst guests, admiring ‘The Leader’s List’

If you’d like to work with us to a new stage please email co-producer Dr David Dunkley Gyimah at Cardiff University Gyimahd@cardiff.ac.uk



An enormous part of the effort to make the project work happened behind the scene. We captured as much as possible to build a narrative about what it’s like to create an ambitious project, such as the Leaders’ list.

Wayne McLean designed the exquisite coffee table book. Gerald McLean an Artist- Architecture photographer captured the documentary photography and film on the day. David Freeman was the portrait photographer and behind the line-up. The co-producers and co-creators, with photography and filling were Simone Pennant MBE and (me) Dr David Dunkley Gyimah. Malick was assistant on the shoot.

Thanks to Professor Kerstin Mey, formerly Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of University of Westminster for supporting the event. Prof. Mey is now Vice President Academic Affairs and Student Engagement. Thanks to Marcus Ryder for his editorial contribution.

Wayne ( left- middle of photo); Gerald ( middle shot- closest to camera); David (Right — middle of shot).
Simone ( left); David ( middle); Prof Mey ( far right).


I’m a producer, filmmaker, academic — a former Newsnight and Channel 4 News journalist in the 90s, and foreign news reporter for the BBC World Service in Apartheid South Africa, (where I reported President Mandela’s inauguration). Before joining academia I was the Creative Director for Jon Staton agency who was former head of TV at Saatchi and Saatchi and was a Southbank Artist in Residence. My full career here.

Email David at Gyimahd@cardiff.ac.uk. Tel: +44 (0)29 2087 0100



Dr David Dunkley Gyimah

Creative Technologist & Associate Professor. International Award Winner Cinema journalist. Ex BBC/C4News. Apple profiled Top Writer,