Joy Francis, Founder of Words of Colour
A vibrant, creative organisation that provides professional development and nurtures and promotes writers of colour
As a kid, I was obsessed with TV and the news – especially foreign correspondents, who were largely male and white. Implicit within that was my desire to travel and to see people of colour on screen. I was inquisitive about people – what makes them tick… I wanted to know what was happening beyond my own environment.
My parents are from Jamaica and I was born in London. Being a woman of colour, politics was part of my environment, so I was drawn to political activism.
I studied Politics; began an MA in Spanish & Graphic Design; then switched to Periodical Journalism at the London College of Printing. Once the programme finished, I started freelancing before joining ‘Community Care Magazine’ – produced by Europe’s biggest publishing company.
I was there for four years – exploring major issues that impacted upon wider society and interviewing politicians including Jack Straw and Frank Dobson. The freedom was amazing, but I knew that one day, I wanted to run my own company and tell bigger stories.
I went on to contracted freelancing for ‘The Guardian’ and the BBC for a significant time – always saying yes to opportunities that came my way.
Whatever sector you’re in, when you’re really engaged, it always grows into something else… In 2000, I co-founded The Creative Collective Media with journalists Veena Josh, Paul Macey, Henry Bonsu and David Gyimah to see how we could increase the number of minority journalists in the print media.
Later, I helped to establish the first African Science Cafés for British Council Southern Africa, and the world’s first MA in Diversity & the Media with the Media Diversity Institute. I also set up my creative communications agency Words of Colour; then co-founded Digital Women UK to promote female engagement in digital entrepreneurship.
Looking back, collision, disruption and collaboration have defined my career. Entrepreneurship is about problem-solving; you have to do it with other people. Men and women from all backgrounds have been on my journey with me. If you have an idea and you can’t do it, gift it to someone else who can run with it.
Having started out life as an inquisitive child, who I am now is more evolved.
Photo credit: Alan McFarlane