Ray Shell

AYRIES “RAY” SHELL is a film, TV and stage actor, as well as an author, director and producer. He has been a fixture in London’s West End since he arrived in the UK in 1978. In 2018 Ray toured the UK as Emil Foley, the drill sergeant in the acclaimed Curve production of An Officer and a Gentlemen directed by Nikolai Foster. In 2017, he performed in the Kennedy Center commission for actors and jazz ensemble Bud, Not Buddy, directed by Clarke Peters (The Wire; Da 5 Bloods)

His performance theatre credits include Ain’t Misbehavin’, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Little Willie Jr.’s Resurrection, Miss Saigon, King, Children of Eden, 125th Street, Dancin’ in the Street, Gone with the Wind, Disney’s The Lion King, The Dirtiest Musical, The Me Nobody Knows, Hair, Dementos, Radio Golf (Tricycle Theatre), Sweeney Todd (Holland Park), Happy End (Nottingham Playhouse), Blues for Mr. Charlie (West Yorkshire Playhouse), Golden Boy (Greenwich Theatre), Vernon God Little and Been So Long (Young Vic), and as Rusty in the original West End production of Starlight Express, as well as the original West End production of The Bodyguard. Ray recently appeared in the west coast premiere of the Broadway hit, TONI STONE, directed by Tony Award-winning director Pam Mackinnon.

In 2012, Ray directed the British premiere of the musical A Dream Across the Ocean and, in 2017, Gilgamesh at the White Bear Theatre in Kennington, London. In the last few years, he has also directed Death of a Salesman for the Wilson Playhouse, Crown at the Booker T. Washington Theatre in Rocky Mount, A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Barton College, Wilson NC, TAIP Lab Scratch Night Series in Wilson and Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story at Big Harold’s Diner also in Wilson. Ray’s theatrical directorial credits include White Folks (Cochrane Theatre, Pleasance Theatre), Flatshare, Frederick Avery Visits, Street Angels, The Black Fashion Designers Show (The Royal Albert Hall), The Mango Lick Poetry Jam (Royal Festival Hall), A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist, The Tulip Wars and Street Dance Musical (Camden Fringe Festival). Television and film projects include the cult hit film The Apple, Isaac Julien’s Young Soul Rebel’s, Velvet Goldmine and the hit Belgian television series Monster Trilogy. Ray is currently developing a new UK stage version of ICED: BLACK THOUGHTS IN AN EARLY MOON.

Ray’s acclaimed debut novel “Iced” was published by Random House/Penguin Books and toured internationally. He has also published articles and short stories for, among others, the New York Times, The Guardian, as well as Serpent’s Tail and Penguin publishing houses. His online publishing company, Street Angels Books, has published “Spike Lee: The Eternal Maverick” The 30th-anniversary edition of “Iced” will be published, March 14, 2023 on Street Angels Books. Producer and director Lee Daniels (The Butler, Precious) has bought the film rights to “Iced.” The screenplay was written by Oscar® nominated Menno Meyjes (Indiana Jones, The Color Purple). Ray sold the film rights to his current novel “Carolina Red”, also published by Street Angels Books, to UK production company Sugar Films. Street Angels books first book of 2022, LIKE…HEARING CHAKA KHAN FOR THE FIRST TIME by David Nathan is #1 AMAZON BESTSELLER in 2 genres! Ray is currently developing STAR BOY, a 50’s rock-n-roll, blues musical about a travelling gospel family for global streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu.

Ray has performed his acclaimed cabaret show Black2Black at the Pheasantry and Crazy Coques in London, performed in the Inner-City Reunion Concert at 54 Below in New York City and his new show Phoenix at Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater. He has recorded, sang with, arranged and trained such musical stars as Jay Kay (Jamiroquai), Damage, Grace Jones, Caron Wheeler (Soul II Soul), Victoria Wilson James (Shamen, Soul II Soul), Sophie Dahl, Pete Burns, Howard Devoto (Magazine), Sia, Marsha Ambrosius and X-Factor star Jahmene Douglas. Ray was a coach on BBC1’s The Voice in 2013 and is the producer/writer for TribeWilson and UK pop artist NIA.

Marienna Pope-Weidemann

Marienna Pope-Weidemann (she/her) is a writer, activist and journalist with a decade of experience in storytelling for social justice. She is now working on her first book, The State of Britain is Killing Us, a creative nonfiction collection of stories from families like Marienna’s, who have lost someone they loved at the hands of the state and are fighting for change.

Marienna’s work was shortlisted for the short fiction Booker Prize at Birkbeck (2019) and longlisted for the Spread The Word Life Writing Prize (2020). Her short story Devotion was Litro Magazine’s Editor’s Pick in December that year. As a journalist, she specialises in women’s liberation, migration and climate justice and has written for the Guardian, Independent, Al Jazeera and Red Pepper amongst others.

The State of Britain is Killing Us collects the stories of ten lives lost. Some, like Sean Rigg, Matthew Leahy and Olaseni Lewis, are well known. Others are names you’ve never heard before. In custody, in hospital or in the streets, all died in hands of services we are taught to trust. As inspiring as they are devastating, these are stories of love, loss and what keeps us going against all the odds.

The book was inspired by Marienna’s experience working with other bereaved families and leading the Justice for Gaia campaign on behalf of her own. Her cousin Gaia Pope, a survivor of sexual violence, was let down by the mental health system and the police after they took no further action following her rape allegation against a known child sex offender.

Gaia went missing on 7 November 2017 from her home in Dorset when she was nineteen years old. Following a police investigation and enormous community-led search effort to find her, her body was recovered eleven days later, less than a mile from where she disappeared. The coroner ruled the cause of death as hypothermia but like all the deaths explored in her book, Marienna calls it a death by indifference.

After four years and three closed-door reports, the public inquest into Gaia’s death will be held before a jury this summer. Justice for Gaia campaigns for changes in policing, health and social care, to save lives like hers in the future.

CLICK HERE for actions you can take in support of the campaign.

Deborah Coles, the director of INQUEST, a charity that supports families bereaved by state related deaths, says:

“The stories of the men, women and children who have died in the care of the state uncover deficiencies in the systems which are supposed to protect all of us, raising broader social questions around inequality, racism and discrimination. Justice for All of Us is about telling those stories behind the news headlines and statistics, highlighting struggles for social and racial justice and the centrality of ordinary families within this. We believe the book can help develop renewed calls for the systemic change we all need to see.”


Find out more about Marienna and her journey here:

Justice for Gaia

Sian Anderson

Sian Anderson is a media powerhouse. As well as running Saint Music – her own Record Label alongside Parlophone Records, Sian also holds down a daytime presenter/DJ slot on BBC Radio 1Xtra (Friday and Saturday 4-7pm) and a specialist show (Monday nights 9-11pm), runs youth mentoring programme Nexxt Step supported by the Mayor of London and has released her debut cookbook Sian And(her)Son.

Raised in Lewisham, South London, Sian stayed in school until her A-Levels where she simultaneously began to pursue a career in the media – particularly grime music and entertainment. Sian fell into grime early on, sparring with friends in the playground over ripped Wiley and Ruff Sqwad instrumentals. Her love for the sound was passed on from her older brother who would, every night, crank his speakers to full volume and blare garage, jungle and drum and bass sets that would shake the ceiling above Sian’s room. When (at Live Magazine) she began to interview artists such as Nu Brand Flexxx and Kano, she soon realised that the life of an MC was not for her. She much preferred talking and writing about the music. It was at this point that she and best friend Julie Adenuga pulled together and decided to send a pilot into underground radio station Rinse FM. The demo, recorded on Julie’s iPhone, would never be heard by Rinse’s higher-ups, but, as is the way of the world, Rinse would eventually get in touch with the pair anyway, offering them a show on the station, Sundays at 11am.

During her time at Rinse FM her love for grime grew and, weekly the girls would interview the hottest crews from across the scene, including Boy Better Know, Newham Generals and OG’z. From there further involvement with grime was inevitable. Her next break came when she presented ‘Topman CTRL’ on Channel 4, a programme centred on exploring the women involved in the growing scene, and was one that laid grounding for wider opportunities in the music industry.

In 2015 Sian hit the national airwaves and landed a slot on BBC Radio 1Xtra. On-air every Wednesday night, her three-hour show stood resolutely as the only exclusively-grime platform on the BBC 1Xtra Network and, with a weekly set and a revolving door of exciting guest MC’s, serves to capture the sound at its essence. She followed up on her new show later that year, presenting the televised BBC Grime Proms, before holding her own grime symphony at the iconic Maida Vale. In 2016 her show was described as “One of the finest shows in U.K Radio” by CLASH Magazine and her presenter skills led her to document grime photography for BBC 3’s Beyond The Music and feature in a three-part documentary on grime and Hip Hop for 4 Music, The Box and Kiss. As a DJ that year she debuted at Glastonbury with a DJ set back to back with Madam X, played sets at legendary U.K. clubs Fabric, and Studio 338, represented Noisey for a second year at Fresh Island Festival in Croatia, played twice for Warehouse Project 2016 and supported Royal T at Nottinghams Stealth. As a journalist Sian was freelance for a handful of well-respected publications including The Fader, i-D Magazine, Red Bull and Noisey (Vice).

Sian then took a year out then to focus on motherhood, coming back to business in 2017 as she became the first female DJ to present drive on the network with her current 16:00 – 19:00 show on BBC Radio 1Xtra and played at festivals Lovebox, Creamfields, SXSW and Ibiza Rocks to name a few. Sian also shifted her attention to mentoring and launched FLOOR SIXX Music Academy, mentoring 40 kids across 10 weeks finishing with a huge event at London Roundhouse.

The following year, Sian was contacted by City Hall as the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan had seen her FLOOX SIXX project and wanted to replicate it with a twist. Sian then launched NEXXT STEP; Women In Music and ran a mentoring programme for 10 artists, supported by the Mayor’s office.  

Toni Tone

Toni Tone is a Content Creator, Speaker, and Author. Her debut book, ‘I Wish I Knew This Earlier – Lessons on Love’ became an instant Sunday Times bestseller, debuting at number three on The Sunday Times bestsellers list. Beyond her bestselling book, she is well known for her inspiring and thought-provoking writing on Twitter, which has been featured in a range of publications and shared by the likes of Hailey Bieber, Demi Lovato, Khloe Kardashian, Oprah Magazine, and many more.

In 2021 Toni featured alongside her family in Channel 4’s ‘Highlife’ – a docu-ality series following the lives of a group of young, ambitious, British West Africans. In the same year she presented her very own podcast ‘Money Moves’ – a tool kit to give young listeners confidence in managing their relationship with money, in collaboration with BBC Sounds.

In 2019 Toni was announced as the first ever ambassador for the charity Young Women’s Trust – a feminist organisation working to achieve economic justice for young women across the UK. She also speaks at a range of events and has worked in collaboration with organisations such as JP Morgan, Paramount UK, Samsung KX, Warner Music, HBO, Bumble, and many more.

Roshaante Anderson

26-year-old, Roshaante Deluis Anderson. Model, Actor, and Activist, who happens to also be an Intersex Male.

Roshaante has been in the performing arts since age 2 and is now currently in the creative arts.

Roshaante is also a YouTuber, known for his honest videos that tackle topics others are too afraid to take on, speaking on the challenges and internal battles he has faced and continues to face as an intersex man. Check out his channel here.