At just 18 years old, Araloyin Oshunremi has already been involved in some of the UK’s most culturally captivating television. His first acting gig was playing Stefan in Top Boy – aged just 14. But even though he was rubbing shoulders with UK acting heavyweights like Ashley Walters and Kano, Oshunremi never looked out of place, handling the task with the maturity and composure of a veteran. He’s not ashamed to admit that his mum is his biggest fan either: “I watched the first episode with my mum, and she was just so proud of me. I’m so happy that I can make her proud.” The teen has also appeared in a little show called Heartstopper. Perhaps you’ve heard of it?
“It was a bit frustrating,” admits the actor Hannah Khalique-Brown as she recalls sending out more than 1,000 emails to directors and agencies to no response. But giving up was never an option for the 23-year-old, who eventually got her break when she landed the role of Saara in Channel 4’s thriller about hackers, The Undeclared War, alongside Simon Pegg and Mark Rylance. “I found out through my agent, who was crying as she told me, then I was crying too. It was such a surreal moment,” she exclaims. Now due to appear in a feature film next year, the star is paving the way for others too. “I take pride in being a source of representation for other people,” she says, pointing out the lack of British-Asian female actresses she had to look up to in her younger years.
“I want my music to speak for itself,” says the Lagos- born Bermondsey-bred rapper Flohio. The 30-year-old first started writing lyrics at 13 and credits her diverse range of sounds to her Nigerian background: “It just influences me to be braver. I’m not just rigid into one little box, you know?” She has now performed in front of thousands across the world, including in Mexico and Australia, and her streams continue to grow, clocking in at just under 100,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. Her debut album, Out of Heart, will be released in October and she’s been working hard to make it perfect. “I had to be meticulously anal about it and I’ve been working with a lot more live musicians on this one too.”
Devon Ross burst onto the modelling scene after Gucci’s Alessandro Michele booked her for the label’s spring/ summer 2020 show, but that wasn’t what gave her her first insight into the fashion world – her career choice was inspired by her model mum, Anna Bauer. “I just thought it was the coolest job ever,” she says. However the 22-year-old’s skill set expands much further than the catwalk. She recently made her screen debut in the HBO series Irma Vep, a reboot of the 1996 film of the same name that follows an American expat in France. Throw in Ross’s talent as a guitarist and it’s clear her versatility has no bounds. “I never saw myself doing one thing, I just think that’s boring.”
As one of the UK’s striking up-and-coming talents, Deijuvhs is a rising star who can do it all, whether he’s producing tear-jerking love songs, rowdy raps or metal- inspired chaos. “I find it hard just to make one genre because I get bored,” he says. And Deijuvhs is a man of the community: his Hoodstock festival, which took place this August in Walthamstow, raised funds to support young London artists. “I wished when I was younger people would give back, so I feel like it’s my responsibility now,” he says. “The underground has been ignored for so long. In the UK everyone’s slow, and when people catch on, everyone’s dead.” But Deijuvhs is set to change that narrative, asserting, “I think we’re getting to a point where we can’t be ignored any more.”
The 29-year-old actor Percelle Ascott never questioned the path he found himself pursuing: “I didn’t think twice. I didn’t hesitate. I said to myself, ‘I want to be an actor.’” Now his career is really taking off. Roles in Netflix productions like I Came By and The Innocents count for a few of his recent success stories. But aside from acting, he pioneered the UK viral scene with his Mandem on the Wall web series, which racked up millions of views while he was still in school, and his production company, Wall of Comedy, has been responsible for producing content for the likes of Yung Filly and Harry Pinero. Despite his online success, Ascott has stayed grounded: “I think humility is a massive thing to keep. The higher we climb, the stakes get higher and the scale gets bigger. But we have to always remember why we started, and why we started creating something in the first place.”
Want a glimpse of the days when girl bands reigned supreme? CuteBad have nostalgia covered, with a good portion of fun and talent to boot. Comprising Scarlet Robinson, Cameron Valentina, Ramona Blue, Natalie Nyasha and Mia Ward, the band was put together after a casting call was posted online. “My mum found out about the band on Twitter and sent it to me,” dishes Blue. “I sent a bunch of covers I had on Instagram and that’s how I got in.” As comfortable on the dancefloor as they are in the booth, CuteBad have built up a legion of fans across social media, with more than 220,000 followers on TikTok alone. Each member has their own source of inspiration, from K-pop to Eighties soul and hip-hop, which is reflected in their brand of new-age pop. “We all have our own strengths and that definitely makes it easier for us,” Valentina says.
“I have always always wanted to be an actor. It’s just intrinsically ingrained in my DNA,” states 23-year-old British-Libyan actor Adam Ali. Although he has already starred in critically acclaimed flicks (Europa, Baba), as a queer Arab man he faced incredible adversity at the beginning of his career and was told he would never make it due to his facial features. Admirably he now hopes to use his position to help others. “I do all of this to help my friends back home in the Middle East,” says the actor, who will soon star in the BBC’s reboot of the TV series Waterloo Road. “It’s about dissecting and dismissing the preconceived stereotypes and notions that a heteronormative society is trying to convey to you about the queer community. Specifically, the Arab queer community.”
While the singer-songwriter Daniella Wizard describes her sound as “melancholic” and “deep and dark”, that’s no negative thing. The up-and-comer says that she prefers making “gloomy” tracks over club bangers as they allow for the “truest form of expression”. After getting her start by sharing an Alicia Keys cover when she was 14, the London-based artist, now 27, joined the hip-hop band The Age of LUNA during her time at university. Five years later and Wizard decided it was time to strike out on her own. The silky vocalist now draws from eclectic inspirations, encompassing everything from heavy metal to Nineties groove to shape the alternative R&B sounds she produces.