Naomi Grant is the co-founder of LAMBB – a beauty brand on a mission. They recently shot, 50 Shades of Melanin a documentary which seeks to uncover the truths about colourism within the UK.
Believing that colourism is a weighted term, and although it has been unpacked many times in America, it has hardly been tackled in the UK. 50 Shades of Melanin features 30 British Black individuals discussing matters such as Light Skinned Privilege, the influence of media and the wedge between the black British today. The participants shine a light on the impact of deep rooted issues such as colonialism and racism, and although slavery never occurred on British soil many site it as a reason for their disarray today.
According to Grant, the impact of the documentary been immense, with young girls tearfully saying how it made them feel beautiful and many commenting on the healing it provides. Grant says she believes that, “…at a time where it may feel like the world is turning their back on ethnic minorities, it is important to uplift each other within our own communities.”
#TBB10 caught up Grant to find out more…
1# Introduce yourself – Name, age, where you’re from?
Naomi Grant, 18, London Mother is Nigerian, Father is Jamaican
2# What is LAMBB and how did it get started?
LAMBB (Look At My Black Beauty) is an online haven which documents the black female experience in the 21st Century. I co-founded LAMBB with my sister, Cauline. We started the concept about 2 years ago when we saw a lack of representation of afro-textured hair girls online. We wanted to create a safe haven for black girls and women.
3# What is your role within the organisation?
My role is always changing as we are currently only a small team. I do anything from creatively directing shoots, to writing articles and building our presence within the community.
4# What is LAMBB’s mission?
We are a beauty brand that seeks to go beyond the beauty. Together we can dismantle a society that wants our lips, but not our words, our physical love but not our emotional strength. Conversations need to be had, and our voices need be heard, LAMBB aims to be that platform.
5# Tell us about this latest project, 50 Shades of Melanin – what inspired it?
I initially had the idea for 50 Shades of Melanin about 2 years ago, as I was concerned about the UK’s opinion on colourism. I think race relations in the UK are often sugar-coated, and when compared to America it almost seems okay. However doing this documentary and featuring real people with real issues caused by effects of racism and colonialism proved that we too have hurdles to overcome.
6# What was the process of getting this made – how long did it take to put together, funding, industry support?
We (my brother and sister) got funded at the end of last year, and that’s when everything started falling into place. Planning took about two months, then we shot the documentary over 3 days. It then took me about a week to edit.
7# You say this topic is never discussed properly in the UK, why do you think this is and do you think you’ve been able to cover all bases with this discussion or is there more to explore?
I think the UK tends to sugar-coat issues to do with race, and people are made to believe that things are okay because they aren’t as bad as it is in America. However there is still a unheard history of black Britain and we are still overcoming issues such as institutional racism, which a lot of people point out in the documentary. The documentary features 30 black British people who cover a lot of points, and thus far we have rumbled grounds but there are still many stories left unheard.
8# It’s called 50 shades of Melanin – what’s the meaning behind the title?
The phrase ’50 Shades’ is already renowned, and although it’s completely unrelated I loved the idea about their being so many different variations to just one thing. This is the case with skin colour, I find it so amazing that in a home with the same parents the children will have different shades of skin, and each hue matters.
9# Why have you chosen to release the documentary via YouTube?
I think YouTube is an amazing space; it gives everyone the ability to be filmmakers! YouTube is universal which has enabled this documentary to be seen by people across the world, which is pretty cool!
10# What’s next for LAMBB and yourself?
The next step for LAMBB is to continue to uncover our truths and do so in a beautiful way. I have a lot more projects in store, I am excited to start working on them and release it to the world!