Wed. May 22nd, 2024

Four influential Black people from Kingston Upon Thames

By Georgia L Howell Oct 13, 2022
Clara Amfo in a red dress and Stormzy in a silver suit higging at a premier.Clara Amfo and Stormzy backstage at The BRIT Awards 2018 Photo Credit: Photo by JM Enternational/Shutterstock. 21st February 2018.

Celebrating and supporting the success and dedication of Black talent in Britain is important every month, not just Black History Month, but did you know Kingston has been home to many Black artists over the years, with many famous names still calling the town home?

These four influential Black celebrities have all lived in Kingston, with two still call it home.

Clara Amfo

Clara Amfo stands at the Homesense Awards. She has long thickly braided hair and is wearing a blue and orange suit with a black undertop. She has gold chunky earrings.
Clara Amfo stands on the red carpet for the Homesense Awards, May 2022.
Photo Credit: Photo by James Veysey/Shutterstock.

Amfo works as a TV presenter, Radio 1 Broadcaster, podcast host and voice-over artist. She has presented the Chart Show and took over the Future Sounds show on Radio 1 when Annie Mac left the BBC.

She has been honored with her own Barbie doll for her work on racism, been a contestant on the 18th series of Strictly Come Dancing and hosted her own podcast This City among other things.

In the Aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, Amfo made a highly praised speech during her mid morning show on BBC Radio 1.

In the speech she discussed George Floyd’s murder, racism and its impact on her own mental health. Amfo also worked on the Google campaign Ally challenge alongside her then colleague Nick Grimshaw.

Amfo was born in Kingston Upon Thames on May 22 1984 to Ghanaian parents who emigrated to Britain in the 1970s. She attended Burntwood School in nearby Wandsworth and later moved to The Holy Cross School in New Malden.

Steven Reid

Steve Reid walks along the Pitch in  a Nottingham forset top which is Dark Navy blue with a white logo in the middle. He has short hair and is carrying a red book.
Steven Reid at Nottingham Forest. Photo: MI News/NurPhoto/Shutterstock

Steven Reid is a former professional football player who, during his carreer played for a number of league clubs including Burnley, Millwall and Blackburn Rovers. He also played in the England national team at junior level, moving to playing fully international with the Republic of Ireland.

He played 30 games with the Irish team, becoming captain in 2006.

Since retiring from the professional game Reid worked as assistant head coach for the Scottish national team and Nottingham Forest, as well as becoming UEFA pro licence coach.

Reid has been vocal in his activism to improve players mental health and self esteem. Having been open about his own battles with his mental health, Reid chose to leave his coaching role at Nottingham Forest in 2022 to pursue a career in counselling.

Steven Reid was born on the 10th March 1981 and grew up in Kingston Upon Thames, attending St. Agatha’s Catholic Primary School and The Richard Challoner School prior to his football academy success.

Chiké Okonkwo

Chiké Oknokwa at a film premier. He wears a white shit with a black shirt and bow tie. He has a black hankerchief in his pocket.
Chike Okonkwo at the premiere of The Birth of a Nation. Photo: Jim Ruymen/UPI/Shutterstock

Award winning British actor Chiké Okonkwo is an actor, producer and activist who has starred in acclaimed TV series, films and stage productions as well as dedicating himself to anti-racism and equity work internationally.

He began his activism while living in New York during the filming of the NBC drama Knock Off Michael in 2011.

He started trying to tell and portray stories of Black hisotry and the systemic racism faced by Black people from a global and historical perspective, allowing him to be a voice for the struggle of the anti-racism movement. His role in Birth of a Nation (2016) is inspired by this.

He also worked with the Children’s Defence Fund , a California organisation that carries out legislative work to benefit children, especially Black and Brown children in the US.

Okonkwo also works with Re:Store Justice California. He is a co-facillitator of their restorative justice course at California State Prison, talking to groups of men at the facility about their crimes and achieving healing through restorative justice.

Okonkwo has spoken out about the prison industrial complex in the US after loosing his close friend Chris Young who was executed on Texas death row in 2018.

Okonkwo was born in Kingston Upon Thames on the March 18 1982. He attended Tolworth Infants and Juniors School, later moving to Southbrook High School in Hook.

He is regularly praised for his decision to turn down several places at the UK’s leading drama schools in order to pursue a first class degree in business computing at Surrey University.


Sormzy at an England football game in 2021, he is dressed in a football T-shirt with the 3 lions logo and a red number 7 in the center. He also wears a blue baseball cap.
Stormzy at the England Vs Germany game in 2021. Photo: Mark Thomas/Shutterstock

Known professionally as Stormzy, Michael Ebenezer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Jr was born in Croydon, South London but currently lives in Kingston Upon Thames.

Stormzy rose to fame in 2014 on the underground scene and through his videos on YouTube. He grew up with a love for music, rapping at age 11 and practicing at his local youth club.

Stormzy has also been a prominent activist against racism and has a lifetime commitment to to anti-racism work. In 2020 he made a pledge to donate £10 million to organisations and charities tackling inequality, justice reform and black empowerment in the UK.

Stormzy launched The Stormzy scholarship in 2018, which funds two Black students to go to Cambridge every year, paying their full fees and maintenance loan for up to four years.

In 2021, The Stormzy Scholarship announced that The #Merky Foundation, in partnership with HSBC UK had partnered with the scheme, expanding the number of scholarships they were now able to provide. In 2021, the scheme provided 13 Scholarships to Black students.

He is regularly seen around Kingston upon Thames, walking his two dogs.

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