How Julie Adenuga finds comfort in community
The host and presenter speaks on defining success, protecting her mental health, and removing hurdles for the next generation of Black creatives.
Photograph by Amanda Dasi
The BTF100 is a list of Black creatives, artists, and tastemakers who are globally disrupting the art and media landscape. These individuals, co-curated by the teams at both Blacktag and i-D, sit across multiple disciplines, industries, and spaces, unapologetically defying stereotypes and clashing traditions to make space for new ideals.
Each week, for the next four weeks, we’ll be dropping 25 names from the list alongside special features delving deeper into what it means to centre, celebrate, and create equity for Black voices. Head over to the BTF100 microsite for the full list!
While it’s true she comes from a famously creative family, for the better part of the last decade Julie Adenuga has carved out a special space in the culture that is all her own. The 33-year-old radio DJ — formerly a host at Apple Music 1 alongside Zane Lowe and Ebro — has interviewed everyone from Megan Thee Stallion to Billie Eilish, to Jay-Z. She’s also head of a creative media house and platform called Don’t Trust the Internet, boasting a flagship show called “Julie’s Top 5”. Now in its fifth season, the offering is an extension of her fiery approach to curation and championing of the underdog, a perfect destination for music heads and aspiring pop-culture critics with fierce opinions and a passion for voicing (and debating) them out loud.
“I would love to play a part in Black culture being respected and properly rewarded for all of the invaluable things it has given to the world,” says the London native, about her hopes of making a lasting impact. She’s off to a stunning start, to say the least.
What purpose or force drives you to create your work?
I’ve always had a deep passion for entertainment, community, and culture. I love when people come together; whether it be for learning, sharing, laughing, or dancing.
How would you describe Black culture's influence on popular culture?
Without Black culture’s influence, popular culture would lack deep belly laughs mixed with exceptional talent and soul.
What nuances or tensions are you finding as you navigate the creative landscape as a Black creator?
I only work in spaces where I feel welcomed and celebrated, that way I can protect my mental health and criminal record.
What ground is left to cover in representing voices like yours in the arts and in media?
Everything is behind the scenes. As a presenter and host, I would love to see more Blackness in the ownership and leadership roles of the spaces I often work in.
From racial-driven biases to Black creators written out of trends, what work do traditional content platforms need to do to better support Black creativity?
I think intentionally building these platforms from the ground up, with knowledge of the influence that Black culture will bring to the “success” of these companies, will drive them to always listen to Black creators and treat them with respect.
Looking towards the future, how will you define success in your field?
By looking at the generation following in my footsteps and knowing they don’t have to jump over the same hurdles that I did because those hurdles are no longer there.
What does the community you’re a part of mean to you and how do you want to give back to it?
My community is what got me to where I am today. They inform my decisions and inspire my ideas. They are my purpose.
Which peers do you look to for guidance and inspiration?
I love authenticity and people that constantly push for greatness. Give me a deserted island with Will Smith, my little brother Jason and Kendrick Lamar any day of the week please = )