Recently an article The British Blacklist published about the powerlessness of British Black Awards shows was met with some criticism. 

Our intention was not to offend or denigrate existing British Black awards, but rather call out the mainstream for not recognising our homegrown awards, and British Black creatives who once they get their BAFTA, Grammy, or Oscar, for example, stop mentioning the British Black award they won, often the first recognition of their talents. 

That said, we apologise for causing offence and to further reinforce our true intentions we decided to shed light on existing British Black award shows so they can let us and you all know who they are and what they do… 

First up we spoke to Annika Allen, co-founder of  The Colour Network and the new, Black Magic Awards… 

Annika Allen

1# You’re the founder of  The Black Magic Awards what’s your award all about?

The Black Magic Awards was created to highlight the achievements of women who have contributed to the black entertainment scene, business, education, sport, fashion, and community. Last year we honoured 12 women in a glittering ceremony held at Hackney Empire. Honourees included Jamelia, TV presenter/music artist Alesha Dixon, ITV News presenter Charlene White, GQ now Vogue Publisher Vanessa Kingori MBE, actress Angela Griffin, England footballer Rachel Yankey, entertainer Angie Le Mar, Bianca Miller from BBC’s The Apprentice, producer/presenter Jasmine Dotiwala, ACLT Charity Founder Beverley De-Gale, radio presenter Jenny Francis and rapper Eve.

2# What was the inspiration behind launching your awards?

Black women are often poorly depicted in the mainstream media, as successful as they are, many of their achievements often go under the radar. My business partner Kojo Akoto-Anim and I are the owners of Black entertainment platform The Colour Network. We were fed up with hearing people say that we have no British black role models and seeing people always look to America to celebrate black success. We wanted to showcase the black excellence that’s happening right on our doorstep and create an event to thank the ladies that have achieved greatness despite the many odds stacked against them being black and a woman and thank them for paving the way.

3# What were the first steps you took in getting your awards off the ground – did you think about your competition?

In the UK there isn’t competition when it comes to an awards show honouring women of colour. We are the first. The closest awards show there is, is Black Girls Rock in the US which is amazing but it’s an American show celebrating American talent or women known to a US audience.

 

4# Who do you look to as an example of the legacy you want to leave?

I admire The BET, Soul Train, and MTV Awards as they are all very slick and well put together and have a wealth of talent who attend. I love the spirit of the Pride of Britain and its commitment to celebrating remarkable people who make our world a better place. On a more grassroots level the MViSA in Birmingham is professionally organised and always has a great turnout and I respect the path that the MOBOs have paved. We want to leave a legacy of inspiration, empowerment, and excellence.

5# Let’s talk about the reputation of black awards in the UK, what are some of the unfair negative comments or opinions you’ve experienced or heard and how have you dealt with them? 

We didn’t receive any negative feedback, which I am pleased to say. Everything went well. This is what one of our honourees Jasmine Dotiwala had to say: “It was brilliant, and if I am honest surpassed everyone’s expectations, as usually, first debut events tend to run with tech issues and timing fluctuations, but the BMA was truly brilliant!

‘It felt really positive in the Empire on the night, the audience was amazingly supportive and the sense of empowerment really did take over. It was also a great thing that all women honoured were previously announced in advance, so both they and the audience knew what to expect and were prepared accordingly.

The presenters, award presenters and entertainment were also very ‘’on-message’’ and a great movement of names and industries to have kicked off your show with.”

I used to organise a popular model competition. The one year another competition happened the next day after ours and it was a total mess. The bad news about that event overshadowed the good media around our event. But we weren’t mad. We’d rather there was no controversy and that everybody left having had a good time.

Co-founders of The Black Magic Awards & The Colour Network Annika Allen and Kojo Akoto Antim

6# What about when it comes to industry recognition, sitting amongst, the BAFTA’s, Oscars, Brits, Olivier’s etc. do you feel the industry gives you enough acknowledgment and validation – we’re talking about power here?

Last year was the first ever Black Magic Awards so it is early days, however, we would like to achieve the same success and media attention of the Brits, Oscars etc just because our honourees are black doesn’t mean that the audience has to be. Regardless of your race, age or gender you’ll be inspired and entertained by what you see and hear at our awards.

7# Talent not turning up for homegrown awards but breaking their neck to be at the mainstream awards can be an issue, how do you navigate this and why do you think this happens? 

Although not all the honorees were able to attend, the majority did and we were very happy with the talent who attended in the audience and high calibre guest presenters like Stormzy who was fresh from winning GQ’s Man of the Year, Casualty actor Charles Venn and model and social activist Munroe Bergdorf to name but a few.

Our plan this year is to let the honorees know with enough time so that they can put the date in their calendar way in advance so they are able to make it. The celebrants that weren’t able to attend didn’t take away from the magic of the night. You can see for yourself if you search the hashtag #blackmagicawards.

8# How do you fund your awards and do you think funding should come from the industry or should an award organisation be self-sufficient. Whose responsibility is it?

It depends on what and who the awards are for if the industry should fund it or not. For example, there’s an awards ceremony for black talent in football. That could easily be funded by the FA or a football club. We make our revenue for partnerships, sponsors, and ticket sales. If you’re reading this and are interested in being involved then please email – info@thecolournetwork.com.

9# What’s the biggest challenge of running an award show and what brings the most satisfaction?

Securing the right kind of sponsorship and ensuring that everything runs professionally on the night. Kojo and I have a shared vision and when we are putting on an event we don’t want anyone to leave saying anything negative about it. So we work hard to have the right team in place in order to achieve excellence. Even if things are manic or going wrong behind the scenes the audience should never see that on stage. We only heard positive things about the output of the Black Magic Awards and for that, we were extremely proud and excited to bring you our 2018 event.

10# If you could win any award which would it be?

I started my media career as a journalist; I love magazines and newspapers so I’d love to win Time’s Person of the Year. They feature and profile a person, a group, an idea, or an object that for better or for worse… has done the most to influence the events of the year. Ultimately I want to make a difference in this world. Help people realise their potential and leave the world a much better and happier place. So I hope to do something one day where I make such an impact I am worthy of this title.


Keep up to date with the Black Magic Awards and The Colour Network here: thecolournetwork.com

Read our article about British Black Award shows, and join the discussion – http://thebritishblacklist.co.uk/black-folks-when-its-award-season-lets-pour-a-little-respectful-liquor-for-the-powerlessness-of-uk-black-award-shows/