The Top 5 Influential Creatives from the African Diaspora.

by | Jan 20, 2022 | CSA Celebrates, Culture, Design, Entertainment, Fashion, Music, Photography, Talent, Trends

  • Inspired by their culture and heritage
  • Trend setters
  • Influential Creatives steering contemporary culture

The children of Africa are blessed abundantly with imaginative and creative talent. This is steadily being acknowledged by the world and the gate keepers of art, fashion, music and other global cultural pillars, particularly from those who define the shifts in cultural trends and denote the originators of trends and movements. The Wire powered by CSA presents our Top 5 Creatives from the African Diaspora, all of whom are working beyond the continent.


NYC-based Nigerian multimedia Artist

Why The Wire loves her: As the world increasingly unpacks and deconstructs the meaning, value and substance of African Art, Ojih Odutola is an important voice articulating the essence of blackness and continues to gain relevance and significance. Her unique style of complex mark-making and lavish compositions rethinks the category and traditions of portraiture and storytelling while her artwork investigates a variety of themes – from socio-economic inequality to the legacy of colonialism, queer and gender theory as well as, notions of blackness as a visual and social symbol, and experiences of migration and dislocation.

Relevance: Her presence is noted at Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum, Barbican Centre, Kunsten Museum of Modern Art Aalborg, Whitney Museum of American Art, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, The Drawing Center, Brooklyn Museum, The Studio Museum in Harlem, Museu de Arte de São Paulo, the Menil Collection, 12th Manifesta Biennial in Palermo, Italy

Features: The Washington Post, Washington City Paper, The New York Times Style Magazine, The New York Times, CNN Style,The New Yorker, Apollo Magazine,

Fans: Black Coffee, Imraan Christian and Trevor Noah.


Washington-based Congolese Fashion Designer

Why the Wire loves her: The 30-year-old is the founder of ready-to-wear fashion brand ‘Hanifa’

Relevance: In the first throes of the pandemic, Anifa made worldwide headlines with her 3D Digital Fashion Show in 2020. The online fashion debut on styagram was visually groundbreaking and created the first realistic option of presenting virtual fashion shows. In May 2020 she launched an innovative ‘Pink Label Congo’ collection on Instagram Live via 3D Models. See video.

Features: InStyle, Essence, Vogue, Teen Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Forbes, CNN, Wall Street Journal

Awards & accolades: in 2021 She received the ‘Future of Fashion Award’ at the InStyle Awards. The award was presented to her by Christian Louboutin.

Fans: Beyonce, Lizzo, Kylie Jenner, Bella Hadid and Zendaya.


London-based Nigerian fashion designer and singer.

Why the Wire loves her: Afro futurist Ogunlesi (25) is known for her sex-charged and gender-fluid designs working with a wide variety of textiles such as leather and PVC to produce non-traditional silhouettes inspired by Nigerian and London youth culture.

Relevance: Her striking treatment of color is a distinct nod to her African heritage and her designs are a confident realization of future empowered Africa.

Features: in Paper Magazine, Complex Magazine, i-D, Hypebeast, Dazed Magazine, Cosmopolitan.

Awards and Accolades: Mowalola collaborated with Nike for the Naija World Cup kit. She was named by Elle as one of “10 Trailblazing Women Changing The Future You Need To Know” in 2020 while Kanye West hired her to lead the Yeezy Gap Design Team. She released two singles, ‘Truck’ and ‘Wawa’, along with features on Namasenda’s single ‘Banana Clip’ and featured in the line-up of the Boiler Room Festival 2021, at The Cause in North London.

Fans: Drake, Kanye, Frank Ocean, Naomi Campbell, Kim Kardashian, Dua Lipa, Vogue, British Vogue, Vogue India.


US-based Ghanaian makeup artist.

Why the Wire loves her: Vanessa (28) is one of the biggest beauty influencers in Africa and launched her freelancing career as a make-up artist in 2014 at the age of 21. She worked with a leading brand, Mac Cosmetics for almost two years. In 2016, she started posting makeup tutorial videos on Instagram and YouTube and went viral. In the past four years, Vanessa has garnered 1000s of followers on her Instagram page and YouTube channel.

Relevance: Her empowering makeup tutorials aims to create an inclusive space for women to feel confident and comfortable, gaining traction with her “365 Look” concept. This concept aligns with her mission to create an everyday beautiful makeup look that works for any occasion. She is passionate about discovering new beauty products that make women smile and feel beautiful from the inside and out.

Features: Bella Naija Style, Buzzfeed, Essence, OkayAfrica, Bella Naija Weddings, Bella Naija Style, USA Today, BET, Fashion Ghana.

Awards & accolades: 2021: Vanessa was nominated for Makeup Influencer of the Year at the 2021 USA Today Influencer Awards.


NY-based Ghanaian creative director/photographer/filmmaker.

Why the Wire loves him: “His work celebrates the vibrance of underrepresented communities through a cultural and historical lens. He uses his talent as an artist to empower communities of color while humanizing and diminishing stereotypes and prejudices in the images he creates. His work is soulful, distinctive and emotive, representing a truly unique view on humanity and the world.” – Smuggler Magazine

Relevance: Kissi (32) is redefining the narrative and identity of Black men as they are presented in media. This sense of shared pride connects the diaspora to the African continent, presenting new cultural pillars of inspiration for marginalized black youth

Joshua is also the co-founder of Street Etiquette, a blog dedicated to men’s style with a focus on Black men, that has become an online sensation. He is also the co-founder of See in Black, a collective of 80 Black photographers with the mission of elevating Black visibility, and TONL, a company transforming stock photography to reflect the diverse people and narratives that are overlooked by traditional media today. – source Smuggler Magazine

He has shot: Michael B. Jordan, Laverne Cox, Cynthia Erivo, Jaden Smith, Issa Rae, Colin Kaepernick, Nas, Tyga.

Features, collaborations and creative direction: Beats by Dre, Nike, Google, NYT Style Magazine, InStyle, Vogue, New York Times, GQ, Essence, Time Magazine, Hypebeast, Apple, Adobe.

Recent projects: His most recent project was a collaboration with Jerry Lorenzo for the Fear Of God Loungewear Campaign.

C.S.A.’s monthly cultural portal, The WIRE connects the dots of culture. With concise stories, many with video content, take a premium dive into the world of African entertainment & cultural fluidity. It’s one thing to be hip to what’s happening but it is another to know why.

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