Actor, author, comedian, writer and MBE Humza Arshad rose to fame with his wildly acclaimed web series Diary of a Badman. With over 100 million YouTube views and becoming the first British YouTuber to have his own scripted comedy series on BBC Three, the mockumentary series Coconut, Humza is one of the most successful online comedians in the UK.
Partnering with screenwriter Henry White, Humza has written have written Little Badman series, hilarious and fast-paced adventure novels for young readers.
Between making the UK laugh through the screen and literature, Humza spends much time working with youth and law enforcement in London to help students find a good path.
‘I didn’t read books when I was a child because I didn’t see myself and my culture in the books I found in my school library. Maybe if I had seen myself in books, it may have inspired me to pick up a book from an early age and really enjoy them. Storytelling has always been a big passion of mine whether through my comedy, YouTube videos or Little Badman children’s book series. Hopefully, my stories can inspire the next generation of storytellers and I’m really honoured to be a judge for Penguin Random House’s Lit in Colour Creative Student Prize.’
A trailblazer in the publishing industry Mireille Harper is an author, writer, mentor and award-winning Penguin Books Editor.
Growing up with a keen eye for creative writing, Mireille has written hundreds of articles touching on music, art and culture, travel and lifestyle. Last year Mireille introduced young people worldwide to remarkable Black people in history by becoming the sole writer in DK's Timelines from Black History.
Amongst taking up space in the publishing industry, Mireille works as a freelance sensitivity reader and PR and comms consultant working with grassroots arts and culture organisations, black-owned businesses and black creatives.
‘It is an honour to be a part of Lit in Colour’s Creative Student Prize. There has never been a better time to encourage young people to share their stories and voices, and I love the idea of celebrating storytelling in all its forms and without any boundaries. This is going to be such an exciting process and I feel very humbled and blessed to have the opportunity to hear from so many talented individuals!’
Simran Randhawa is a Journalist, Creative Consultant and Digital Creator who uses her platform to explore the intersection of identity through fashion, beauty, lifestyle and food.
A storyteller at her core, whilst studying at Bristol University, Simran became one of gal-dem's earliest contributors and quickly became an inspiration to many to speak on their lived experiences and identity unapologetically. Simran has since worked with Nike, I-D, Refinery 29, British Vogue, Kurt Geiger, Dazed, Off the Block, Fenty Beauty, Burberry - to be quite frank, the list can go on.
Being of Punjabi-Malaysian heritage, Simran proudly speaks on the influence of her grandparent's craft and how it's inspired her career in food journalism, as she illustrates the relationship between food, culture and self-care. @simsnackin
‘Students should apply for the prize because it's an important cause; school curriculums have been known to be non inclusive and every student deserves a chance to be able to see themselves in the content they are learning. By entering the competition students are exerting agency surrounding their education! It's a great chance to have their writing supported and nurtured.’
Yomi Sode is a poet, playwright, facilitator and recipient of the 2019 Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship. His acclaimed one-man show COAT toured nationally to sold-out audiences, including at the Brighton Festival, Roundhouse's Last Word Festival and the Battersea Arts Centre.
As well as curating #Merky Books' poetry showcase at their pop up shop in Shoreditch, Yomi consistently lengthens his resume as the founder and co-host of BoxedIn, a poetry night held at Boxpark Shoreditch, and First Five via Instagram Live, an interview series he and guests discuss literature through the medium of music.
His upcoming debut book Manorism explores family, survival, generational trauma and the complexities of belonging as he examines the lives of Black British men and boys.
‘There were early points in my career that I could have applied or submitted work for prizes and I never made the move. This was a mix of self-confidence and being too worried about the response. I wouldn't want other writers to experience those moments of self-doubt. There's a craving for literature in its various forms and I would urge writers to believe in the greatness of their work and start the process. Even if it's not the news one wants to hear, the courage to submit is amazing and also, people will also know your name and look forward to reading more work in the future. Go for it!’
Her debut novel, Character Breakdown - an unconventional memoir - gives us a unique look at women’s relationship with performance. Published in 2020 by Chatto and Windus, it made Bernardine Evaristo's Observer top 20 books by Black British Woman Writers.
Over the past year, Zawe has hosted Penguin Talks' new Lit in Colour series in conjunction with the Runnymede Trust, spotlighting Black, Brown and minority ethnic authors to encourage inclusivity in the English curriculum.
‘I want to help young people understand that there is no limit for them when it comes to the written word. I had people in my formative years who did that for me and it's proved to be the solid ground that I've needed so many times. I can't wait to read the entries! Thanks to everyone in advance for taking part. I really hope that it feels like a fun way to engage with the change we are trying to make’