Words By Manuel Domingos
VAMP is celebrating their 5-year anniversary and we were lucky enough to borrow a few moments
from their busy schedule to ask a few questions. If you don’t know, VAMP is the UK’s leading
Entertainment PR and Digital Talent Agency specialising in highlighting the black British experience
through black content creators. The founders consist of Ruby Jade-Aryiku (Head of Publicity),
Christina Okorocha (Head of Entertainment) and Rumbi Mupindu (Head of Talent). Together, they
have managed to build a solid reputation as champions of black culture with a particular focus on
black women across beauty, lifestyle and entertainment. They have worked with the clients that span from Warner Bros. and Disney to HBO and Channel 4 to provide, but not limited to,
specialist PR and consultancy, talent management, influencer strategy & market research.
We discussed some of their most memorable “firsts” with VAMP.
Ruby reminisced over VAMP’s first international junket which was Girl’s Trip, she specifically and proudly mentioned how they were able to take 7 black British journalists to LA for media days during the build up to the film’s release. “That was the first time most these journalists were able to travel internationally for a media day. You don’t usually see us in these environments.” This way of thinking aligns with one VAMPs core principles; We represent the underrepresented. Christina’s choice of VAMP “firsts” was her experience with the first brand that they worked with, 5 years ago, which was Smashbox, a well-known makeup brand. Christina added that they worked with makeup artist by the name of Mahina (mahinamakeup) where they planned a make-up masterclass.
This was not news to me as last week an episode from the No Shade podcast, hosted by Esther and Akua, had Ruby and Tina as guests and this revelation was brought up. Something else that was mentioned during that podcast episode was the challenges that they had come across when it came to how brands and companies treated them or their clients. They both admitted to facing challenges and obstacles during these 5 years but have gone on to say things have changed for the better since they started. Not only in working with brands and companies but also what they consume in commercial media.
“I see a lot more black people & families on TV shows and adverts then I did when I was younger.”
Christina explains. Christina went on to cite two catalysts for these gradual changes, first: Rihanna’s Fenty which launched later in the same year as VAMP came to be. Fenty is popular for its broad inclusivity across skin tones and gender, the existence of Fenty has raised the question of why other brands can’t be as diverse forcing the market to cater to a more diverse audience.
“When Rihanna came out with Fenty, it changed everything. Make up brands now had to appeal to
every skin tone because if Fenty could do it, why can’t they?” Christina then goes on the mention the second catalyst to the positive change in representation in media was the unfortunate death of George Floyd, Black Lives Matter and other social movements. Companies now wanted to be seen as progressive and therefore actively looked for diverse representation. Even though things have been better, there is always room for improvement, improvement that Tina was not shy to suggest
“Money! [can be improved]. Black influencers aren’t compensated as much as their white counterparts.” Christina highlights that Miriam and Adeola BBC 1xtra podcast Pressed recently hit 1
million downloads and is the most listened to podcast for under 35’s on BBC sounds 2 years in a row.
This highlights the influence and popularity of black female personalities in the UK can and do have,
therefore, it should not be a question for their compensation to be as high as their white
counterparts. While the likes of Miriam, Adeola, Victor and others are currently popular and successful influencers, it was only right to ask what exactly the VAMP team are looking for from others if they aspire to reach the heights of these aforementioned stars.
“They need to have a niche and be different” Ruby exclaimed. “To grub our attention, they need to
actively be trying to improve their content and doing new things” Christina chimed in adding that the landscape for influencers have trained greatly in recent years and that need to of a personality is as important as it ever was. “You can’t just be pretty and expect to blow up, people who do well on Instagram move onto to other apps like TikTok but because they don’t have a personality, they don’t blow up.” Finally, I asked them to address the rumours of them purposely celebrating their 5-year anniversary in the same month of women’s month to receive more presents. Although they refused to answer, you would be happy to know that Christina also known as Tequila Tina, is always thrilled to receive tequila as gifts.
Check out VAMP here: