The Black creatives behind Bernardine Evaristo’s guest-edited Sunday Times Style issue
Including a cover portrait of the Girl, Woman, Other author by Ruth Ossai, the issue features a team of Black photographers, hair and make-up artists, fashion designers, writers and more, hoping to spotlight the experiences and talent of Black women and womxn.
- Jenny Brewer
- 27 July 2020
Bernardine Evaristo leaped into literary superstardom last year when she jointly won the Booker Prize for her novel Girl, Woman, Other alongside Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments, also making her the first Black woman to win the award. Last week she guest-edited the Sunday Times Style magazine, publishing a candid piece on her sexuality and early romantic experiences, and aiming to use the issue to shine a spotlight on Black women and womxn. Behind the edition was a stellar team of Black creatives, from Ruth Ossai, who shot Evaristo’s portrait for the cover, to photographers, stylists, hair and make-up artists, fashion designers, writers and more, showing a vastly white industry how it’s done.
These creatives include Christina Ebenezer, who recently shot Duro Olowu’s SS20 campaign and who photographed pages 16-23 in this issue. Myah Jeffers, who won the Portrait of Britain 2019 award, photographed art collective Sistren; and Ekua King, who has previously shot for Vogue Italia, photographed the home of BBC producer Smita Patel. Umber Ghauri did make-up for Travis Alabanza, while hair artist Lauraine Bailey did their braids.
Ola Ebiti styled Evaristo for the cover, and Rebecca Davenport, who has worked with everyone from DC Comics (on the Wonder Woman cast) to Burberry, was the author’s make-up artist. Ossai’s portraits of Evaristo feature backdrops inspired by Nollywood films (Nigerian cinema).
In the issue, Diana Evans, author of Ordinary People, writes about yoga, while Yomi Adegoke, co-author of Slay in Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible, writes about the trend for buzzcuts. The publication also features a range of young emerging talents chosen by Evaristo, who she says are “defining a more inclusive future and paving the way for revolutionary thinking”. These include pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason; poet Theresa Lola; Nicole Crentsil, CEO of Black Girl Festival; journalist Paula Akpan; model Enam Asiama; founder of Queer Black Christmas Tanya Compas; writer Minna Salami, aka MsAfropolitan; curator Elvira Dyangani Ose; director and playwright Lynette Linton; theatre director Ola Ince; and the aforementioned queer activist and trans performer Travis Alabanza.
On the guest-editorship, Evaristo wrote: “Until very recently, even though I am a lifelong consumer of women’s magazines, Black women have been almost entirely absent from their pages. Yet it didn’t make sense to exclude us, because we Black women buy clothes, wear make-up, do up our hair and houses, have relationships and female friendships, and are as involved as all other women in every other aspect of our society.
“I was thrilled to be invited [to guest-edit]… at a time when the Black Lives Matter movement has re-energised the conversation around racism. It was of utmost importance to me, to make sure this issue put Black women in the spotlight and also to make it queer-inclusive, much as I did with my novel Girl, Woman, Other.
“It is a groundbreaking celebration of Black women and womxn. You may never have heard of them before, but you will be hearing a lot more about them in the future. I believe every one of them deserves wider attention.”
Editor-in-chief Lorraine Candy added that while the magazine has made “proactive decisions to put Black women and womxn on the covers [during her tenure]… there is much more we can all do to reflect the diversity of our readership today. Bernardine has been our guide in this issue and delivered a stylish, glamorous, witty and smart edit that will make people sit up and think.”
The magazine is also collaborating with the Black Writers’ Guild to launch a competition for aspiring Black fashion and beauty journalists – find out more here.
GallerySunday Times Style, guest-edited by Bernardine Evaristo
About the Author
After five years as It’s Nice That’s news editor, Jenny became online editor in June 2021, overseeing the website’s daily editorial output.
Jenny is currently on maternity leave.