“I needed a way to overcome my dyspraxia and crippling shyness,” says Henrie Kwushue, discussing how she ended up as a DJ and the effervescent presenter and creator of YouTube series, Is Your Area Changing? Watching her, you’d have no idea Kwushue was shy. Her docuseries exploring gentrification in south London – where she grew up – is compelling as much for her effortless charisma as it is for its stark portrayal of how Peckham and Brixton change as the sun goes down. Kwushue released the series via her own production company, HTK Productions, and each episode follows the presenter as she speaks to locals in the day – most of whom have lived in south London for the majority of their lives – and meets the visiting (often obnoxious) partygoers who transform the area at night. A fascinating insight into the changing landscape of London, the series is a light-hearted look at the often depressing topic of gentrification.
When she’s not interviewing drunk bankers in Copeland Park, taking over Christmas presenting on BBC Radio 1, or spinning tracks on her weekly Reprezent Radio show, you can find Kwushue fighting for more representation of black women in the media industry. “The (young black women) I have seen on my journey have been so incredible that it made me want to be incredible for another Henrie,” Kwushue says, adding that she doesn’t just want more visibility on screen, but behind the scenes as well. “With my production company, it’s important to me to have black women’s voices heard.” In the coming year, Kwushue hopes to tell more stories outside of her Is Your Area Changing? series, and give young filmmakers the chance to execute their own ideas.
What issues or causes are you passionate about and why?
Henrie Kwushue: Black women being visible in the media industry, not only with jobs in front of the screen, but also working behind the scenes. The percentage of black people in well-known newsrooms, agencies, and production companies is very small, so you can imagine how much smaller it is for black women specifically. With the production company I’ve set up, it’s important to me to have their voices heard.
How do you want to influence the future?
Henrie Kwushue: By encouraging big companies to hire more people from backgrounds like my own. It’s easy to be overcome by imposter syndrome when you don’t look or sound like anyone else in the workplace. Through my documentaries, I want to help bring about positive changes in areas that are being gentrified so that regeneration is beneficial to those who had settled there years ago.
“With my production company, it’s important to me to have black women’s voices heard” – Henrie Kwushue
What creative or philanthropic project would you work on with a grant from the Dazed 100 Ideas Fund?
Henrie Kwushue: I would love to create a show through my production company that hires people who would love the experience and opportunity to produce something at industry-standard without having to be in a conglomerate. I’d love to push the idea that if you feel like you can’t get into the industry, then you can still have the industry notice you instead by creating amazing content. I want to hire producers, directors, videographers, those with ideas.
Profile portrait of Henrie Kwushue by @Zeroshub