Celebrities and sports stars named as UK’s most influential black people – but trailblazing businesswoman takes top spot

Entertainment

Sir Lenny Henry, Stormzy and Michaela Coel are among those named on a list of the UK’s most influential black people – but a businesswoman has taken the top spot.

The Powerlist, which has been published annually since 2007, identifies the UK’s most powerful people of African, African Caribbean and African American heritage.

The 2023 list includes actors Sir Lenny, 64, and Idris Elba, 50, actress and screenwriter Coel, 35, Stormzy, the rapper, the UK Cyber Security Council chief Simon Hepburn and footballer Marcus Rashford.

But the list is topped by the chairwoman of John Lewis, Dame Sharon White.

EMBARGOED TO 0001 FRIDAY OCTOBER 28 File photo dated 13/10/22 of Sir Lenny Henry, who along with Stormzy and Michaela Coel are among those to have been named on a list of the UK's most influential black people.
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Sir Lenny Henry was also recognised

Dame Sharon, 55, who is the first woman in the job, said: “It is an incredible honour to have been chosen to receive this year’s Powerlist award – particularly given the outstanding contributions of the other nominees.

“My hope is that we can take the serendipity out of social mobility – everyone should have the chance to be who they want to be in life, with their background as a source of pride, not a disadvantage.”

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Also in the top 10 is podcast host and Dragons Den star Steven Bartlett.

Organisers of the list say it was launched “to showcase black role models to young people”.

Others on the list include the former footballer Alex Scott and Get Out actor Daniel Kaluuya.

September 12, 2021, Kington Upon Thames, United Kingdom: Kington Upon Thames, England, 12th September 2021. Television presenter, Alex Scott during the The FA Womens Super League match at Kingsmeadow, Kington Upon Thames. Picture credit should read: Paul Terry / Sportimage(Credit Image: © Paul Terry/CSM via ZUMA Wire) (Cal Sport Media via AP Images)
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The TV presenter and footballer Alex Scott. Pic: AP
Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring City's opener against Southampton in the quarter-final
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Raheem Sterling

Among those featuring for the first time are the Bank of England’s chief financial officer, Afua Kyei, and its senior adviser, Tangy Morgan, as well as the chairwoman of the UK Cyber Security Council, Dr Claudia Natanson.

Raheem Sterling, Edward Enninful, David Lammy, and Munroe Bergdorf are also on the list.

The list is compiled by a panel led by Dame Linda Dobbs, a former High Court judge.

‘Huge impact’

The judging panel also included the winner of the first series of The Apprentice, Tim Campbell.

Michael Eboda, chief executive of Powerful Media who published the list, said it was “the leading showcase, acknowledgement and reminder of the amazing individuals of African, African Caribbean and African American heritage we have in the UK”.

He added that Dame Sharon was an example of “true excellence”.

“She has been able to have a huge impact in one of the top retail companies in the UK, which is truly remarkable. I applaud the great work she is doing.”

More plaudits

Sir Lenny was also honoured at this year’s Ethnicity Awards.

He was named alongside Sir Mo Farah, 39, who won the sports trailblazer award for speaking out against discrimination after he revealed earlier this year that he was trafficked to the UK when he was eight.

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Mo Farah on being trafficked: ‘I would lock myself in a bathroom and cry’

Sir Lenny, 64, was awarded the lifetime achievement award for championing racial equality and standing up for communities during his career as an actor, broadcaster and comedian.

The Olympic runner Dina Asher-Smith, 26, was named sports personality of the year for talking about her experiences of racism, and Alison Hammond, 47, was host of the year.

Emeli Sande, 35, was music artist of the year for “fighting discrimination and equality”, and Azeem Rafiq, 31, was given the media impact award for speaking out about the racial abuse and bullying at Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

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