The Road To GUAP Gala 2023

Jide Adetunji writes for Clash...

Amid the fractured media landscape it’s important for titles to link together, to help raise one another up. After all, if we don’t… who will? London based title and platform GUAP caught our eye from the start, given the strength of its editorial and the sincerity of its vision.

Aiming to raise up peers and provides entrance points into the industry for young people, GUAP have ploughed their own furrow. Co-founders Ibrahim Kamara and Jide Adetunji have set tongues wagging, and were the face of the Forbes 30U30 Media + Marketing category for the whole of Europe earlier this year.

The GAUP Gala returns in September, bigger and better than ever before. 1XTRA are stepping in as media partners for the whole event, while the lengthy list of nominees will be joined by an all-new Legacy Award.

In this piece, co-founder Jide Adetunji reflects on the rise of GUAP and discusses the importance of diversifying the media landscape.

In 2015, GUAP, a youth-led digital media platform, was born out of the vision of myself, Jide Adetunji and Ibrahim Kamara. We both grew up in South London and met at college through mutual friends. Frustrated by the lack of opportunities and representation for young people in the UK’s creative industry, we set out on a mission to create a thriving creative community and establish tangible role models for aspiring talents. Over the years, GUAP has grown into a powerful force, dedicated to discovering, nurturing, and showcasing emerging creative talent through our magazine, website, social media, agency, events and more. Our platform has emerged as a significant force for change and growth in the industry. We are incredibly proud of what we have managed to manifest and achieve the eight years since we launched.

From the very beginning, GUAP and our approach as co-founders has been committed to challenging the status quo within the media and creative industries. Our approach revolves around creating innovative and inclusive content and experiences, providing a platform for emerging talent to flourish. Unlike traditional media outlets that focus solely on hyper-visible celebrities like musicians and actors, GUAP strives to shine a spotlight on all the creatives working behind the scenes. Stylists, directors, managers, glam teams, and countless other professionals are celebrated for their significant contributions to the vibrant and awe-inspiring creative space. 

At the heart of our efforts to recognize creative excellence is the highly anticipated GUAP GALA. The GUAP GALA is not your typical event; it’s an experiential award show/gala celebrating creative excellence in all its forms. With 19 award categories, live entertainment, a themed dress code, and cultural food and drinks, the event is a breathtaking fusion of talent and passion. The inaugural GALA held at the prestigious Natural History Museum was a resounding success, leaving a lasting impact on the cultural landscape last year. It felt really empowering to see an idea that we imagined several years ago come to life. Seeing the looks of astonishment on our guests faces as they entered the venue is something I will never forget.

Highlights of the night included Munya Chawawa winning Content Creator Of The Year, Gabriel Moses being awarded Director Of The Year, and DLT receiving the Business Of The Year award. Stellar performances by artists such as Jvck James, Kojey Radical, and the Compozers added a mesmerizing touch to the evening. The hashtag #guapgala reached a staggering 58 million impressions, dominating conversations for days and igniting dialogues on best-dressed, representation in the creative industry and more. These moments felt even more special for Ibrahim and I as some of the talent such as Kojey Radical and Gabriel Moses, we gave them their first ever magazine covers many years prior to the Gala. To be able to witness the heights they have grown to and to be able to award them and celebrate them on the night felt like a full circle moment.

As the eagerly awaited second edition approaches this September, we aim to surpass the successes of the previous year. It is never easy to top something that was so well received but I think as a team we have what it takes to go above and beyond. Thanks to the unwavering support from global brands like Instagram, adidas, and Chivas Regal as category sponsors, as well as BBC 1Xtra as our first-ever official media partner, GUAP is gearing up to create an even bigger splash. We recognize that the need for such an event has never been greater, and are committed to using our influence to champion the wider creative industry and its exceptional talents. 

The GUAP GALA not only celebrates creative excellence but also serves as a catalyst for change. By acknowledging the unsung heroes of the creative world, GUAP is driving a paradigm shift within the industry, highlighting the collaborative nature of creativity and its multifaceted impact on society. The event encourages aspiring artists to pursue their passions and dreams, knowing that they too can achieve recognition and success in a field that often seems exclusive and inaccessible. A sentiment that was shared with me by Donch, winner of the DJ of the year, when he came up to me during the event saying he never thought he would win as was the little fish in his category.

Our platform started from humble beginnings and has risen to become a powerhouse in the creative industry exemplifying the power of determination, innovation, and dedication. We have not only created a brand but a movement that transcends boundaries and empowers the next generation of creatives to dream bigger and bolder. Ibrahim and I are experiencing all sorts of emotions right now; enthusiasm, trepidation, a bit of stress but most importantly we are super excited about what is to come.

GUAP Gala 2023 takes place next month at the Natural History Museum, London.

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