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Out and proud

OUTSPOKEN: Dean Atta and Jasmine

IN A week where there was a universal buzz about US singer Frank Ocean coming out of the closet and revealing his homosexuality, I wondered why many are still unable to fully accept people with diverse ways of life in today’s world.

UK spoken word artist Dean Atta has been articulating himself on the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender scene for a while now. And on a high after having just won the London Poetry Award, I spoke to the 27-year-old, who popped up to the BBC building, to speak about his exciting new EP Love or Money.

This young poet is slowly but surely garnering a multitude of fans in the capital, who love his fearless, outspoken opinions. Dean has been praised by many movers and shakers like RWD magazine and MP David Lammy, who obviously know talent when they see it. But I first became aware of Dean after there was a huge Twitter buzz surrounding his poem, I Am Nobody’s N****r.

Even though he had performed as a child actor in many West End plays, his first love has always been poetry, and a medium he made his big break with on BBC Radio 4. “Poetry is inclusive to all and I love to see diverse voices on stage and poetry arenas at music festivals.”

A little taken aback by the attention that the mainstream media are paying him, Dean finds himself in a position where he ticks their entire diversity quota – young, black and gay – and so is of course, sought after.

“The BBC has been amazing. I also did a short Channel 4 Three Minute Wonder slot and I am now working on one of their Random Act slots, so it’s a great time.”

I’m not at all surprised that the press is embracing Dean. He speaks for a vast number of young people living in fear due to their sexuality and in Dean, they have found a fearless crusader.

Now, he performs his poetry at numerous shows and open mic sessions across the country. He admitted that many of his friends are emcees but he naturally gravitated towards poetry, because he was put off by hip-hop’s homophobia.

That is also why he recently featured in the BBC 1Xtra documentary No Homo, as well as collaborating with filmmakers for MTV and SBTV on his groundbreaking spoken word piece I Am Nobody’s N****r.

He managed to make his EP Love or money with like-minded friends and little to no budget. But when on a mission of love, Dean explained: “Some folks are put off by no funding but I always find another way to make my work exist.”

And as if writing, recording and performing an album wasn’t good enough, he has also just published a book of poetry titled We Come From, as a way of introducing poetry to young people.

Dean enthused: “It is for any person between 18-30 that says there’s nothing out there for them. I’d say the creative world is open to you and it’s so easy to get your stuff out there and get your voice heard. Youth with something to say should just get it out there!”

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Sci-fi in south London

I RECENTLY attended the private screening for actor, producer, and director Noel Clarke’s latest film Storage 24, which saw us all jumping and screaming as an alien takes over a storage unit in Battersea, south London.

Noel really is breaking boundaries by experimenting with a number of film genres and opening up the movie world to a more diverse way of thinking. He really is the UK’s Spike Lee, Tyler Perry and Will Smith rolled into one!

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More real talk

THIS WEEK, I also joined TV presenter Trish Adudu on the panel of her talk show Real Talk on OHTV (Sky channel 199). I love a good debate and am not afraid to be honest in public, so it’s always fun to get involved. This week, my co-panelists were rapper and activist Ty and body image guru Natasha Devon (bodygossip.com).

We discussed the fact that British teenage girls are now the biggest drinkers in their age group across Europe; debated whether or not tattoos are a good idea; whether young people should wear hoodies; and why black families don’t holiday to the British countryside or go skiing. Make sure to catch it online if you missed it!

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