Here’s our 24 most inspiring Bristol young people under 24 for 2019
This year’s list features another round of the city’s most impressive young people.
We’ve been doing this list a little while now and we still can’t believe the amount of talented young people in Bristol. It seems you lot can’t either – the nominations for this list came flooding in from day one of our launch and didn’t stop coming until the deadline. With the help of the young people we work with at Rife, we managed to whittle down tens upon tens of nominations to the list you can see below, and it definitely wasn’t easy. From swimmers to app developers, each and every one of these Bristolian or Bristol-based entries were jaw-dropping – but as ever, we can’t capture every person doing wonderful things in Bristol as this list would be ten miles long. Think of this as a conversation starter. Read on for some serious inspiration for 2020.
“I thought theatre was shit,” theatre director Julia told us in our recent interview with her. Luckily, that didn’t last long. At seventeen she was ‘dragged’ to watch Sally Cookson’s Jane Eyre and everything clicked. Now, she runs FullRogue theatre company and has got credits on a list of plays as long as your arm. In 2018 she received a Bristol Old Vic Ferment Leverhulme Arts Scholarship and she has been awarded the Henry Augustine Forse Award for her contribution to Engagement for her work with Bristol Old Vic’s Engagement department. She is an Associate Director of Ad Infinitum, Twisted Theatre and Headlong Futures and is a trustee of MAYK.
She says: “I am a product of public funding to arts in this city and long-term engagement. A product of free civic spaces where young people are allowed to just be. A product of youth clubs and mentors. Of cheap film tickets and free art galleries and free theatre tickets for young people. I am a product of great teachers who have given me space, time and support to fail, to try again and fail again. I would not be on this list without access to these things.
I hope that the people who hold the keys to creative buildings in this city see this list. I hope that the people who hold the pots of money and have access to resources in this city see this list. I hope they actually, properly recognise the abundance of creative young people in this city. I hope they recognise the value and potential of all of them. And then I hope they invest whatever resources they have into these young people, and into the buildings and organisations who foster the creative young people of Bristol.”
See more of Julia’s work on her theatre company’s website.
Olumide makes thought-provoking work in photography and film about wellbeing, identity, history and heritage. As well as creating his own films and images, including an incredible portrait project called Identity Matters, he is a project worker, advocate and creative collaborator. He has worked with RWA gallery to bring photography workshops to a wide range of people, representing the RWA at events and starting to promote the RWA’s photography exhibition ‘Africa State of Mind’ throughout Bristol. He has also been coordinating parts of the current engagement project at RWA and connecting new audiences with the gallery’s programme.
He says, “This is such an honour. Feels right to confess this list has been a goal of mine for a while. It is super special being recognised by the city that I’ve come to call home amongst so many other inspirational individuals. Thank you 🙏🏾”
Neha Maqsood’s work includes journalism, activism, and radio. Her writing on race, religion, Indo-Pak relations and gender inequality has been published in major publications and her poetry has also been featured in or is forthcoming in various literary journals. She was featured in the Bristol BME Powerlist last year for her efforts in tackling discrimination against people of colour and in increasing South Asian representation at Bristol University and the wider community, and her work in ensuring equal quality of services and an improved university life for international students led to her becoming a finalist at the PIEoneer Awards. Alongside activism and journalistic, Neha has acted in film and theatre in both Bristol and Karachi and has founded and hosted an award-winning radio show at Burst Radio. The show, ‘Will I ever be a Doctor?’, ran for 10 weeks, addressing everything from racist microaggressions to the student mental health epidemic.
She says, “When I heard I was going to be featured in Rife’s 24 Under 24 list I was shocked – and after that feeling subsided, I felt honoured. A lot of young people, like myself, spend their teens and early 20s hustling and trying to figure ourselves out because we’re uncertain what the future holds and what our career trajectory will look like. But during that hustle, we often forget to stop and pat ourselves on the back and appreciate what we’ve accomplished during that time. This list is the ideal platform for showcasing the spectacular work being done by young people across Bristol because more often than not, the voices and efforts get lost in the noise.
Bristol has been a formative place in personal and professional life; its where I learnt the most about myself and what I wanted from life, be it in acting, journalism or activism. Finally, I’d be remiss to point out that without the strength and generosity of friends and family, my name would not be on this list.”
Young people have been at the forefront of ongoing protests against climate change this year and shouldering the responsibility of changing our planet’s trajectory towards a premature death. This decentralised group of young people are the Bristol outpost of a much wider youth movement that spans the globe. By organising massive marches, going on strike and protesting instead of attending school, they are getting the wider public to take notice of this terrifyingly pressing issue that affects us all, whether old or young.
They say: “Having only been an organisation for a few months it is incredible to even be considered as an influential movement among the young people of Bristol. We believe that this is a big step towards raising awareness and we hope this means positive change is coming.”
Follow the movement on Twitter.
Kate Shortman and Isabelle Thorpe
Synchronised swimming superstars Kate and Izzy currently train for about 30 hours per week alongside studying for their A-levels. Kate even moved to the same school as Izzy – Clifton High School – after her GCSEs last year so they could train full-time together. Last year they competed in six international competitions, the last of which being the Senior World Championships in South Korea, where they came 14th. They are currently training incredibly super, super hard to qualify in the top 22 duets for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, so watch out for them on telly competing amongst the best of the best.
Kate says, “Both Izzy and myself were born in Bristol and have lived here all our lives. We have been competing for our club, City of Bristol, since we were about 8 years old. We have a strong connection with our home city, have had amazing support from our school, Clifton High School, and do all of our weekly training in Bristol. We feel incredibly proud to be on the 24 under 24 list. We are thrilled to be recognised by our home city which has supported us so much throughout our journey. We hope to make Bristol truly proud by qualifying and competing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.”
One of our cherished recent Rifers, Asmaa is a Danish-born Somali poet, artist and filmmaker. Her heavy-hitting written work has been published in places like The Good Journal, Popshot Magazine, and Ambit, and in 2018 she was commended by Young Poets Network. As a visual artist, she’s been featured by Dark Yellow Dot and Whose Culture and most recently, she was a resident at In Between Time. She’s also a film curator: this year she curated an event with Afrika Eye. Right now she’s a community producer on an Arnolfini City Fellows project and a trustee for Rising Arts Agency, and is co-producing the Rife BFI Musicals season and a part of East Bristol Cinema. If that wasn’t enough, she also recently competed in the semi-finals of BBC 1Xtra and BBC Asian Network’s spoken word competition Words First. Phew.
She says: “I’m really grateful to be featured on the list, alongside all these other incredible humans. I’ve been looking up to the people on the previous years’ lists for a while- so I guess it feels quite surreal. I’d like to thank whoever nominated me.”
Follow Asmaa on Instagram.
Caine Tayo Lewin-Turner
Caine Tayo Lewin-Turner is a local historian and student at the University of Bristol. By working with Bristol Museums, UWE, the University of Bristol, BBC Bristol, and more, he is introducing a young black perspective in places often devoid of one. Most recently, he has organised a series of accessible lectures and seminars at the University of Bristol which aimed to engage local communities in the production of knowledge at the university. Caine is also working with HMP Leyhill, consulting on education and helping to improve the experience of black and brown inmates. Academically, his research looks at the cross-sections between collective memory, racialised identities, trauma, gender, and modern maroonage.
He says, “It is an honour to be recognised and celebrated for work I both enjoy and find incredibly necessary, especially by a platform like Rife, which I regard so highly. Although I am grateful to be named, I do not perceive this as an individual accolade. Countless individuals and organisations, whose contributions often go unnoticed, are working towards similar goals, and my labour would be in vain if it were not for them.”
Read some of his work here.
Vanessa is a DJ who has appeared on NTS, BBC 1Xtra, Foundation FM, and at Wireless Festival and Boiler Room, and is a resident at Bristol’s Booty Bass. She’s a Content Creator at Keakie Music. Her presenting CV is also packed: she’s a radio host at 1020 Radio where she has her own show called Level Up w/ Vanessa Maria, and she’s hosted award ceremonies, interviewed David Attenborough, created content at music festivals, chaired panel events and hosted networking sessions. As a Trainee Production Management Assistant at the BBC she works on The One Show, and she has also set up a new series called “Vanessa Maria Meets…” She’s worked as a student wellbeing representative for the University of Bristol where she dedicated her time to better supporting students of colour and organised industry events. In her spare time (!), she is executively producing a documentary about black students’ mental health and mentoring two young people: a producer, Elkan Beats, and a radio presenter, Lyra Kras.
She says, “I feel very honoured to be on this list alongside so many local legends. It’s always so humbling to be recognised for your work, especially when you don’t really stop to look at your own progress. I find that often when you’re working really hard towards achieving your dreams you don’t really stop to appreciate how far you have already come. So I’d like to thank Rife for giving all creatives the chance to breathe, celebrate and feel proud of what we’ve accomplished – thank you!”
Watch Vanessa’s presenting showreel here.
One of our most recent Rife alums, Sumaya, is one of those blessed people who is good at anything and everything creative. She sings and writes music, is a self-taught guitarist, and is getting into music production – something she is “supes eager and excited ‘bout!” When she’s not channelling a Bristolian Kurt Cobain (lol), she’s reporting on important events in Bristol (like this one she covered for Rife recently), scribbling spoken word, shooting her own films and images, and unleashing her visual art talents on skateboards, guitars and more.
She says: ‘Honestly I always feel like I’m not doing enough [WTF – ed.]. I would never have thought I would be considered for this, but I guess it kind of forces me to acknowledge my own progress and growth. I feel very humbled to be amongst so many inspiring, talented, hard-working, creative souls.’
Lowie is a local journalist and has recently become Bristol24/7’s Editorial Assistant, Lifestyle Editor and LGBTQ+ Editor – talk about a triple threat. They report on Bristol goings-on from the essential viewpoint of a queer, non-binary person and they are heavily involved in the city’s queer scene, writing about events, businesses and important people with empathy, grace, and a great sense of humour that’s loads of fun to read. They’re also an illustrator and they run a toast reviewing account on Instagram, where they rate toast around Bristol on a five-star scale. Yum.
They say, “This is amazing. It’s incredible to be recognised for what I’ve done and the hard work that gets into where you want to be. I would love to give 16-year-old me a massive hug and tell them that they will be killing it five years later.”
Lettie is an activist who has Asperger’s, chronic fatigue and anxiety. She works with WECIL, West of England Centre for Inclusive Living, where she created a pilot training project called ‘The Autism Experience’ which explains to businesses how to support people with Asperger’s in the workplace. Lettie has also helped on Creative Youth Network interview panels and has joined WECIL’s youth panel where she discusses the support needed for young people with disabilities. Lettie recently spoke at a Creative Youth Network event about her journey and the importance of support in education for young people with additional needs. She also highlighted the prevalence of abuse towards people with disabilities and spoke passionately about how common sexual abuse is.
She says, “I feel overjoyed! It’s so exciting to be a part of. The thought of little me being featured alongside such powerful and influential young people – it sends shivers down my spine!”
Watch Lettie’s speech here.
Bruno has been interested in music for as long as he can remember, and lists his musical interests as: garage, surf, psychedelia, bubblegum, glam (especially of the junkshop variety), bonehead, industrial, noise, punk, shit-fi, outsider, riot grrrl, Oi!, freakbeat, rock ‘n’ roll, mod, free jazz, no wave, punxploitation, dub, outsider punk, UK D.I.Y., cold wave, dark wave, minimal wave, post-punk, hardcore, black metal, NWOBHM, psychsploitation, gospel… “something like that.” As well as having his own solo musical project, Bruno and the Outrageous Methods of Presentation, he has a monthly radio show called Bomp Radio Hour, has done a guest spot on NTS, and will be DJing for Primal Scream for their next two London shows.
He says, “It feels bloody brilliant because it’s nice to know that presumably likeminded people appreciate me and my work.”
Pravanya is the Outreach and Engagement Lead at Babbasa, working with young people and supporting them to pursue their professional ambition. She’s also the founder and director of Stomping Ground, an organisation focused on providing young people of colour with access to and a platform within theatre and arts in Bristol. She’s founder and host of Quipped, a comedy night for trans/non-binary/women performers, she appeared on the BME Powerlist last year, and she’s recently become a Pervasive Media Studio resident. She’s also a performer and standup comedian in her own right – watch out for a show at Watershed she has coming up.
She says, “Bristol is one of the best cities in the world and what makes it this way are its young people. Working directly with young people I’m lucky enough to experience first hand the innovation, creativity and passion that makes this city so special. Rife’s 24 under 24 is an excellent way of acknowledging and showcasing this. I’m really proud to be featured.”
Go and watch a Stomping Ground production of Our Street at Bristol Old Vic in January.
Patch de Salis
Patch is a filmmaker and musician who heads up his own production company, Patch Work Productions. His films have attracted lots of attention this year. His film, BeBristol, which showcases the city in under 90 seconds won the Our City short film competition, and his music video for local artist Jay0117 is getting thousands of views. He says he likes to “keep [his] work and messages positive.” His main mediums are currently documentaries, music videos and short films. He also raps and write lyrics as well as playing the piano and composing music.
He says, “It feels great to be on the list. Once again my city and people have showed me another blessing which inspires me to stay active and keep creating. Peace and geayuh!”
Watch another of Patch’s films here.
Stacey is a graphic designer, creative producer and curator. Her work explores how identity and culture is navigated in today’s society through a range of mediums. She has co-curated Why Are We Not Here for Test Space at Spike Open Studios which addresses issues regarding the lack of representation in arts institutions, is a featured artist at Rising Arts and has recently facilitated a new publication, Conversations About Race, to generate much needed conversations in the city. She is the founder of Agents of Change, a programme to shine light on emerging creatives. She recently led the Uncomfortable Truths project at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.
She says, “To be honest I didn’t expect it at all, I never expect recognition because I’m doing something I’m passionate about and I love. But the fact that people see what I’m doing and it’s influential, is greater than where I ever saw myself going.”
Kiko Paint creates avant-garde makeup looks on her Instagram – which she says is, essentially, “a high fashion face painting account!” She’s been featured on Vogue and on Nylon Magazine. Using her stellar creative skills she also works as a makeup artist on fashion shoots, writes, produces and composes her own lo-fi bedroom-pop and hip-hop, and is creating a series of film shorts that will be released next year. She directs, styles and sources all the clothing in the photoshoots she’s modelled for, is designing clothing and merchandise to work alongside her Instagram and has released her own lipgloss in partnership with Glisten Cosmetics.
She says, “I feel honoured to be on this list! I’ve seen it in previous years and, upon reading it, always felt excited and inspired by the talent that surrounds me in this creative city. I’ve been living in Bristol for four years now and it’s become my home as a professional and creative. I feel it’s a place that’s allowed me to thrive and grow as an artist so to be on the list for 24 under 24 for Bristol is truly heart-warming! I hope others reading this can see themselves being on here in the near future, a couple of years ago I wouldn’t have seen myself on here.”
Mikael is a filmmaker who, after completing BFI Film Academy and a stint at Rife Magazine, has become one of Bristol’s most exciting up and coming film, photography and spoken word talents. His short film Boys Like Us is a poetic reflection on his childhood and has been screened on the BBC, at the BFI Southbank and at the Tate Britain. He’s into skateboarding, anime, and eating inhuman amounts of porridge.
He says, “Growing within myself and my works has only gone to further highlight the importance of platforms and lists like these – especially for aspiring younger creatives who have the talent but lack the connections to figure out where to go next. For that reason alone it’s imperative platforms like this aid in bridging these gaps and why I’m proud to be a part of it! Being a part of a network of individuals to bounce ideas of, inspire and uplift is fundamental to the exponential growth I’ve experienced on this journey and why I’m thankful for being on a list that shouts about some of the inspiring and disruptive new voices coming out of this city. Thank you Rife, I’m excited to see where we all go next, love!”
Follow Mikael’s work on Instagram.
Ewan has made films since the age of nine, but it wasn’t until his grandad passed away that he started to use film as an art form to express his vulnerability. His critically-acclaimed film BELIEF recreates his experience of loss. As well as film he also makes music – in early 2019 he released FANTASY, his debut feature film with an accompanying soundtrack album. He is now working on a joint EP called Labrats in which he explores rapping, vocal manipulation and producing. He’s also a part of the Into Film Young Reporters Scheme, where he’s interviewed the casts of Creed 2 and Aladdin, including Tessa Thompson, Dolph Lundgren and Will Smith. His main goal in life is “to make as many people feel as empowered as possible.”
He says, “Being on this list is so humbling, I am so grateful to be listed. I have been checking the list year on year, so it is crazy to see myself on it! I want to use this opportunity to try get people to believe in themselves and their ideas. I feel self-belief can go a very long way, and I find it sad that as time goes on more and more people don’t believe and lose faith in themselves. I want to be apart of the solution for people to start believing themselves, whether that is through the messages in my film, music and art or being given opportunities where I can voice my opinions. It is all about empowering the next person.”
Rema is the Facebook Community Reporter for Bristol Live, working closely with communities which are under-represented in the media. Most of her work is reported from St Pauls and surrounding areas like Stokes Croft and Montpelier. Her writing on inclusivity has also appeared in The Social Detail and Black History Month Magazine. She has been a prolific public speaker, appearing on University of Bristol panels, running journalism workshops with Channel 4, and hosting a conference with Babbasa. She is co-host of the Ujima Breakfast Show, the voice of an audio experience by author Erin Morgenstern, and was a Researcher for BBC Bristol for the award-winning Seven Saints of St Pauls Project. She’s also been working with Bristol Museum and the V&A to make museums more inclusive for young people, and holding focus groups for Babbasa in order to find out from young people what they need in terms of mental health services within the city.
She says, “In all honesty it took my breath away when I found out that I had been named on the list! I must admit for the first couple of hours I was in denial as I just couldn’t believe that my work had been recognised. To be put on the list alongside some extremely talented young people in Bristol makes me feel badass! With the collation of this list I hope that this can allow the 23 other young people and I to collaborate, inspire and empower one another. We’re gonna run this city to be honest!”
Ciara graduated with a first in Film and Television from Bristol University last year and worked on a documentary feature film and a series of short films for the United Nations at a Bristol-based production company. As an independent filmmaker, she’s pitched, directed, filmed and edited two short docs for BBC Three – one about inclusive rugby and one about young marriage. This year she was chosen to be part of the Screenskills Rising Directors Scheme, where she directed, filmed and edited a short film about Ken Macharia, a gay man who is facing the threat of deportation back to his home country of Kenya, but who was granted a reprieve after his rugby team launched a petition to save him. The film was screened at the biggest documentary film festival in the UK. She’s currently working independently on a short documentary about alopecia that she’s hoping to secure some funding for soon.
She says, “I’m really honoured to be on this list alongside so many young people who are really killing it in their fields – I think this kind of recognition really helps ease the impostor syndrome and intense pressure we can put on ourselves as young creatives.”
Independent filmmaker William released a period crime drama set in 80s Bristol, THE FENCE, this year, which won an RTS award and has over 2.5M views on YouTube. It was shot by just five people in just seven days with a low budget of £1500. As a proud Bristolian, his scripts are always set in Bristol and his film company are currently seeking to make a show here. His current goal is to make a feature film in Bristol.
He says, “I’m pleasantly surprised to have been chosen. I honestly didn’t realise I was on anyone’s radar so to speak, but I’m certainly glad I am. I would love to help boost the film industry in Bristol in anyway possible. I think it’s a great city that deserves more screen-time for sure.”
Visit The Film Graduates YouTube channel for more of William’s work.
Lily, a performer, host, writer, and standup comedian, is sometimes known as their dramatic drag persona, Mariana Trench, who in their words is “an immortal movie star who just never really got over the twenties.” They are at the forefront of a new wave of AFAB, or assigned female at birth drag kings and queens who are cultivating their own scene in the city. When their not dazzling onstage as the gorgeous Mariana, you can find them supporting their scene by helping at drag king night Brizzle Boys. They’re also a brilliant event host and do some side-splitting standup sets on the side— as recommended by us at Rife, who were lucky enough to spend six months with them as one of our most recent content creators.
They say: “I feel so honoured to be nominated and picked by Rife. Rife gave me a fantastic opportunity to work in a creative field, and through this opportunity I have been able to expand my creative process. Rife has been the best part of my 2019.”
Talented classical pianist Joe makes infinitely shareable YouTube videos of himself playing piano on the streets of Bristol, playing deftly executed covers of viral songs or giving free piano lessons to passers by. He likes to reimagine the songs – whether from a meme, video game soundtrack, or an anime – and reinterpret them into a cover for optimal street performance value. He’s really popular on YouTube – his channel recently surpassed 1 million subscribers and he has one of the fastest growing channels in the UK right now.
He says, “The character of the city and the people in it are an integral part to my videos. It’s an honour to be included on the list.”
Siena Jackson-Wolfe and India Garrett-Cox
Redland Green school pupils Siena and India have invented an app called Eat Me that targets the environmental problem of food waste by scanning the best-before dates of the food in the user’s fridge and sending an alert when it’s about to expire. With the help of Bristol’s Pervasive Media Studio and Simple Web, they created a prototype for their idea – which involves a cool-looking mini-fridge – which went on to win them the title of Junior Engineers of the Year at the Big Bang Fair in 2017 and then Pitch@Palace, which was entered by 25,000 adult entrepreneurs from across the UK, and most recently, the Gold Star Environmental Award.
They say, “We are so honoured and completely shocked to be featured. When Eat Me started out it was just us as friends bouncing ideas around an issue we thought was important. ”
Read more about Eat Me here.
You might be wondering why we actually have twenty-five young people on our list this year, and that’s because we’ve sneaked an extra Weston-super-Mare legend into our Bristolian list. Jasmin’s always wanted to be a professional writer, but she realised there wasn’t much going on for budding pen-pushers in Weston. That’s why she set up Weston Writer’s Nights, a series of evening writing events that brings workshops and industry professionals to the town. The series offers free tickets to writers with less spare cash hanging around, and has been really popular.
She says, “I am so excited to be featured on this list – it is amazing to get recognition for all of the work that goes on behind the scenes in running a small business, as often it’s easy to forget that you are doing something that should be celebrated! I really hope that the list inspires anyone reading to take a chance on whatever ideas they may have, because with hard work you really can achieve whatever you put your mind to, regardless of your background.”
Support more young people to have their voices heard
Rife is Watershed‘s online magazine created for young people, by young people.
We offer paid internships and publish work by young writers, photographers, illustrators, and filmmakers from all sorts of backgrounds, helping them get into creative careers. Rife has reached over 8,000 young people through our workshops, over 220 young people have made stuff for Rife on topics ranging from mental health to identity to baked beans, and last year, over 200,000 people visited our website.
In these complex and uncertain times hearing from and supporting young people who are advocating for social change and contributing fresh perspectives has never been so important.
Through supporting Rife you can ensure that this important work continues and that more young people have their voices heard.