For as long as she can remember, 26-year-old horror author Alison Rumfitt has been passionate about creating stories. “I wrote a World War Three novel when I was 12. That sounds impressive, but it was terrible!” the Portsmouth-born Londoner says with a laugh. But having just published her second novel, Brainwyrms, it’s obvious that practice has made perfect. Her dedication to horror fandom has helped, too. A devoted Letterboxd user, Alison makes sure to see “every horror film that comes out on the big screen”. Equally, as a young trans woman, her voice is an important one within the horror genre, with Brainwyrms exploring the trans experience through a fresh, gruesome lens. “I hope it can be entertaining and gross, making people want to throw up, and also be profound,” she says. “If someone has a strong reaction, it means that they are engaged with the work.”
24-year-old fashion designer Olly Shinder has gone from strength to strength since graduating from Central Saint Martins last year. Fashion East recently welcomed him onto their line-up for SS24, with his works also being picked up by Dover Street Market and SSENSE. Olly’s successes come at a time when many young British designers are struggling to make ends meet. “London, at the moment, it’s just impossible financially,” says the North Londoner. “I’d like to be able to keep making fab work, while not having to sacrifice parts of it just so that I can keep it afloat.” “Fab” describes Olly’s work perfectly – he rethinks techwear pieces by showing flashes of skin and adding delicate detailing. But fab don’t come for free. He credits his gang of fellow young creative-sorts for their support. “My friends who are designers were able to give me bits of the puzzle to get me through.”
Siyani Sheth’s first play, The Expulsion of Exulansis, was born from a therapy session. “You should write a play about this, your life is pretty interesting,” suggested the East Londoner’s therapist one day. It was a throwaway comment, but the 18-year-old took her counsellor at their word. The drama explores Siyani’s mental health journey after she was diagnosed with anxiety, depression and an eating disorder. “I wanted to write it so that other young people could find some relatability,” she says, “which I didn’t have when I got diagnosed.” After premiering in August at Studio Spaces in East London, the work will head to the Edinburgh Fringe next summer. Just a stage she’s going through? Not a bit – Siyani has firmly caught the Hamilton bug and, generally, “musicals are a big thing in my life”. But this debutante playwright has a more immediate priority: finishing her A‑Levels. “It’s very stressful!”
Meet Yus Jamal Crookes, Gabriel Robinson, Shanu Hazzan, Tienne Simon and Juwon Adedokun: the actors bringing to life characters loosely inspired by DJ Target’s non-fiction book Grime Kids. That 2019 modern classic has provided the framework for a BBC series of the same name, created by Bafta-nominated writer Theresa Ikoko (Rocks). Set in 2000s East London, the epicentre of grime, the show follows a group of youngsters during the birth of the genre. The actors are in constant fits of laughter as they move around the FACE shoot – the boys lived together during filming and, like their characters, are Londoners, ranging in age from 21 to 27. “We’re just being ourselves but as the characters,” says Juwon. “From our last auditions, when we all first met, we knew we would be close,” Gabriel says. “Hopefully, that chemistry we’ve built presents itself on the screen,” Shanu adds. See for yourself on BBC iPlayer right now.
Some people (i.e. blokes) might not think Roo Oxley fits the bill as your “stereotypical” (i.e. male) football expert. But she’s more clued-up than most geezers you’ll see wanging on in the pub. Born and raised in Stoke-on-Trent she is, in her words, “unfortunately” a lifelong Stoke City fan. A marketing manager by trade, the 40-year-old published her first book, Clobber!, this year. It explores the casuals subculture that combines football fandom, hooliganism, working-class norms and designer clothes, along with academic research, interviews and quick-witted takes on the gentrification of football. “I just write in a very irreverent way, it comes from the heart,” she says, making it sound easy, adding that it was always the fashion and the atmosphere “especially at away games” that captivated her. A second book is in the pipeline, drilling into international and female fandom. There is, then, nothing casual about Roo’s knowledge of the game.
At 14, Jedaiah Bannerman’s acting career has only just kicked off. How did he land a role in Kibwe Tavares and Daniel Kaluuya’s highly anticipated directing debut, Netflix sci-fi drama The Kitchen? “I wasn’t planning to be an actor,” the South Londoner insists. “My aunty Sheila just sent off the picture for me and I auditioned from there.” He might be a new kid on the block but, on set, he was far from intimidated. “I was inquisitive. I made sure to ask a lot of questions.” Jedaiah had Oscar winner Kaluuya and Top Boy star and rapper Kane “Kano” Robinson as colleagues, so already he’s learning from the best. “DK would give me loads of tips,” he says. On work ethic, though, it seems he needs no help: the Chelsea fan would shoot and do his schoolwork during the week, then make sure he got in his football training at weekends. Kaluuya-level commitment.
Remember the name: Jess with two Js! The 27-year-old from East London, real name Jessica Ajose, is a multi-genre DJ who’s also PinkPantheress’s right-hand woman on tour. In 2017, while working at community station Radar, Jjess would sneak off to the practice rooms to master the craft of mixing. “I’m Nigerian so I love Afrobeats and Fújì,” she says. Combining this with what she heard growing up in East London (drum ’n’ bass, jungle, lots of R&B), she’s carved out a niche that’s an “amalgamation of my upbringing”. Now, with a Boiler Room set under her belt (as well as an intimate, three-hour B2B with Steve Lacy in Lisbon in July), a tour with the Pantheress done and another coming up next year, Jjess has her sights set on her own headline tour. “That’s definitely my dream – and to start putting out my own music,” she says. “I have to get out into the world.”
PHOTOGRAPHER’S ASSISTANT Nicole Leblanc