7 People To Watch In 2020

We have now entered a new decade and it wouldn’t be right without acknowledging talented members of the QTIPOC community who are set to be game changers this year and beyond. 

Liyah Mai Leoni 

This girl is making waves! Liyah self published her first book entitled, ‘Sincerely yours…’ last year and the reviews have been nothing but good! Liyah also held her first event in November 2019 at Brixton library called, “The Wave”. The atmosphere was amazing and it was great to see the community come together. Liyah is sensational and is keen on creating spaces for LGBTQ+ literature. She has also recently teamed up with Vibe Cafe in Battersea to create a space to talk about literature and all things poetic over a cuppa! I know this girl has some ideas up her sleeve for 2020 and I can’t wait.

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“I firmly believe I am a product of my waves of manifestation and hard work. I’ve been told ‘no, there’s no room for your content’ sooo many f*cking times! I’ve given my book away for free to so many people, who thought 15 seconds of their time was a good enough for my years of hard work. And my book is probably sitting under a coffee cup and covered in staines and disrespect, in the office of interns with too much authority. I’ve had emails opened and ignored, empty phone calls. I’ve had people tell me they want to work with me and not follow through. And I didn’t let anyone stop me! And now look, the universe has answered my manifestation and my hard work has been blessed!! Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not good enough!! . . Thank you to all the people who told me no and wasted my time, my journey was not to adhere to your vision. My journey was to create my own!! Clout for who please!? Nope I’ll be on my Wave, gooooodnight . Liyah for Prime Minister ✌🏾🌊 . . . Follow @the_wa_ve_ – #issawave #jumponthewave #wavey #lgbtqwriters #lgbtqevents #inclusive #safespace #lgbtqwiters #lgbtqauthors #waveafterwave #lgbtqgtreatness #herstory #throwback – Video & photos: @tang_jiaxuan @ritawants2cats

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Tanaka is a talented poet/spoken word artist who is full of laughter and beautiful energy. He never fails to light up a room with his presence and always speaks his truth. Last year I had the pleasure of seeing him perform at Mzz Kimberley’s, ‘Life’ event with his signature piece,’ Barbershop’ as well perform alongside him at, ‘The Wave’. He also performed at Brixton Reel, Brunel University and Jawdance hosted by apples and snakes this year (and this isn’t even the whole list!). He also makes time to promote body confidence and self acceptance with visual content and quotes such as, ‘this one is for my fat masc folk, for those who have large chest and don’t conform. WE HANDSOME ASF’. As a prominent member of the trans community Tanaka is a delight and I can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store for him. 


Marc Thompson

Marc Thompson is an activist and a prominent member of Black out London (a platform for black bi, gay, trans and queer men). He has also created a new event called Love Hub where community based LGBTQ+ organisations can come together and share their visions and plans to support and create more awareness and harmony within the community. Marc is also a campaign and health promotion specialist, mentor, coach and public speaker. Marc will be creating new strides in 2020 and I believe the younger generation could really learn a lot from him. 

Mr Miyagi

Mr Miyagi aka Andre Johnson is definitely one to watch. He has been setting the stage ablaze with his bold moves and catchy songs. He had 6.3K streams on Spotify last year and was played in over 50 countries. His song, ‘One chance’ had me bubbling since the first time I heard it and his performance at AZ Mag Live event last summer which was nothing short of memorable. I know we will be seeing Andre grace more stages throughout this year and getting us even more hyper!


Tanya Compas

Tanya is an all round entertainer, advocate and fun loving girl. Last year she featured in Mission magazine and Attitude magazine spreading her love and passion for the LGBTQ+ community. Tanya strives for equality and creating opportunities for young people while making spaces where queer POC can feel comfortable and at home in their own skin. Last year Tanya created, ‘Queer black Christmas’ which catered to young LGBTQ+ POC who are either estranged from their family or find the Christmas period difficult and I must say it was a success! Tanya managed to raise over £5,500 for the event as well as obtain contributions in the form of gifts from the likes of Penguin books, Levi’s, Revolution and Body shop. Tanya was also able to offer the young people a 2 course meal and gift them all with the presents they wanted for Christmas. It was such a lovely atmosphere an amazing event to be a part of. Tanya made sure she included her queer family to come and support the young people as well as model what it’s like when you find your tribe. 

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Over the Christmas period, 22,000 young people become homeless. I had no idea about this statistic until @centrepointUK got in contact with me about their #The22000 campaign. #The22000 is a call to action to all of us, but in particular to the government to put an end to youth homelessness. Young people didn’t cause the housing crisis or austerity, yet here they are suffering because of it, because of the cuts by the Tory government. Young people shouldn’t have to choose between sleeping on a bus, in a park, in a strangers bed or jumping from friends sofas just to find a place to stay. Go to my story and swipe up to sign your name to join the fight and show your support, all they need is 10,000 signatures 🛑❗️❗️❗️❗️#ad

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Maya Scarlette

The talented Maya Scarlette created so many iconic looks last year! From her Coalese collection of handmade bras to her Spalding bag (inspired by Andrea Bergart infamous basketball bag). Maya is so creative and fun to be around. She really tailors her custom pieces to her clients personalities and she even had her own textiles station at Black Girl Fest. If I had to use one word to describe Maya it would be, ‘inspirational’. Maya has managed to create such a buzz from her creations including her infamous wire bra collection. She has never let her, ‘disability’ called lobster claw syndrome defeat her and she is unstoppable! I know she’ll have many more eye-catching designs and creations to tantalise us with in 2020. 

Michelle Tiwo

Michelle Tiwo, one third of the multi-talented trio, ‘Sistern’ created such uproar in the theatre world with their performances last year. Michelle definitely delivered in the one-person play, ‘Brother Insect’- a controversial and political expression of what it’s like navigating spaces as a black person. Michelle also performed at Bunker theatre in a play called, ‘ Little Miss Burden’- a coming of age tale which intertwines 90s nostalgia, Nigerian family, East London and Sailor Moon while exploring the complexity of growing up with a physical impairment. Michelle has been in a handful of film projects including, ‘The ting’ and, ‘Ackee and Saltfish’. They have also been in a web series and in a BBC pilot. They recently received recognition from, ‘The Guardian’ and their creativity doesn’t stop there! They have also performed their poetry at numerous events and venues including, Jazz Cafe and The Albany. Michelle is a star in the making and I know they will be taking 2020 by storm. 


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