Jamila Prowse 22 London
Categories: Editor, Journalist, Media, Zine

Posted: 26th May 2017

There is a fine art to writing a fine email and Jamila Prowse, has it down. When her name popped into our inbox, with a concise and almost perfect email we knew we were about to meet someone impressive.

Women and multi-tasking share a rich history (we would know) but imagine being 22, half-way through your Art History degree while also simultaneously managing to be Editor-in-Chief of Typical Girls, one of the most exciting, emerging, British feminist zines, a freelance writer and features editor at Thandiekay. Add then, please, add into that mix, the fact that our recently appointed Junior Online Editor has yet to graduate (bonus points for being Sussex Alumni, as we both are). Yes, this is multi-tasking Jamila Prowse style.

Jamila, has been founding Editor-in-Chief of Typical Girls, since it’s inception in 2015. The zine’s intersectional focus was born from Jamila’s own displacement, growing up as a dual-heritage women in a predominantly white area, to a single parent. Unable to see other black women being properly represented within mainstream media meant Jamila felt she quite simply had to start Typical Girls. Named so, because of The Slits punk anthem, and the idea that anything like a “typical girl” exists - the TG ethos is all about finding the beauty and integrity in difference.

It’s important too, to discuss the words in Typical Girls, as well as the wonderful images. Jamila is passionate about producing a publication that never patronises it’s reader. The features are lengthy, academic and challenging, as well as funny, spirited and refreshing, and all require your time and focus (something jamila is sure we’ve sacrificed in our current, clickbait climate). It is now a platform for emerging and established, female and femme thinkers and artists to express themselves and the roster of contributors is impressive. From Photographer Ronan McKenzie to interviews with the likes of Hollie Cook and Viv Albertine, a copy of Typical Girls on your bookshelf is mandatory.

Lying somewhere between a book, a zine and a journal Typical Girls distinctive look and feel (it’s divided into “volumes”) is partly down to whizz-kid Art Director Chani Wisdom (good name, right?). Jamila’s career highlight to date? “Getting to see mine and Chani’s faces blown up on a full page spread for i-D. I have the page framed on my wall at home.”

Issue 3, is about to land on coffee tables near you and promises to be the most exciting yet. With Art Hoe’s Gabrielle Richardson gracing the cover and Kate Tempest, Lynette Nylander, Joey Yu and Nakeya Brown making appearances.

Truly, we’ll feel privileged to have someone as smart, unique and kind as Jamila joining the Babyface team - the honour’s all ours.

Tell us about yourself and what you do: I’m the founding Editor-in-Chief of Typical Girls, which is an intersectional women’s magazine. We’ve been running since the end of 2015. I’m also a freelance writer, the junior editor here at Babyface, and a features editor at Thandiekay. I like to see myself as a supporter of creative women. You’ll always find me on the sidelines cheering the real inspirers on. Why did you start Typical Girls Magazine? Typical Girls was established in response to my own experiences, growing up mixed race in a predominantly white community. I was raised in a single parent household, by a white mother, and have never had much connection to my black heritage. It was incredibly alienating growing up, to feel that I couldn’t see faces like my own anywhere in the media. I wanted to create a space where young women, regardless of their background, could look at the pages of a publication and see themselves reflected back. As the publication has grown and developed, that has transformed into a desire to allow women to represent themselves in a way that is indicative of how they see themselves. Not speaking on the behalf of people, but allowing their voice to shine through. Our main ethos is to allow self-identifying women and femmes to maintain creative agency and integrity over their work. What’s been your career highlight to date? All of the incredible women I get to meet on a daily basis, the conversations that have stemmed from it, and getting to interview people I have admired for years. Getting to chat to Hollie Cook and Viv Albertine have been particular highlights, and joining the Babyface team (of course). The shoot we did for i-D last year was also a real starry eyed moment. Meeting Lynette has been a really pivotal moment in my career, she has been so supportive of the work we do, and I find that all the work she does is so on point. Then actually receiving the issue in print, and getting to see mine and Chani’s faces blown up on a full page spread. I’ve been reading i-D since I was a kid so it was a real pinch me moment. I have the page framed on my wall at home. What can we expect from the next issue?    Our third issue is our biggest to date. We have really taken the time to carefully put together something we can be proud of. The design is tighter, and more unique, and we have an incredible line-up of contributors. Volume 3 is based around Generations, looking at cross-generational influence and how our generation is doing things differently. The past year has been so overwhelming and disheartening politically, so we wanted to really focus on the changes that are being effected by creatives. Gabrielle Richardson, who is a curator of the Art Hoe Collective, is our cover girl. Following on from our interview with Viv Albertine in issue two, we spoke to Hollie Cook, who also used to play with The Slits. We also have the likes of Kate Tempest, Lynette Nylander, Joey Yu and Nakeya Brown filling the pages. How would your friends describe you in a sentence? I only need one word — busy A day in the life of you…Waking up, opening my laptop and getting to work. I tend not to move from the same spot all day, as I often work remotely. It’s a good day if I manage to shake the shackles of my screen at the end of it, and go for a pint or dancing. What's the first thing you do when you get up? Snooze my radio alarm clock until there’s a song I’m happy to wake up to (always Radio 6). FYI — avoid setting it for half past because you’ll arise to the news, and far too often, the sound of Theresa May’s voice. When are you happiest? Those rare moments when I get to reflect on everything going on around me. Or when I’m dancing. Who do you admire? The women I get to work with on a daily basis, (i.e. the team behind Babyface, the contributors to TG). Seeing people with so much drive, self determination and passion for what they do is constantly inspiring. What's your current obsession? Margot Bowman’s recent line for River Island. Waiting for the sun to come back out. What’s your best advice? Someone once told me it’s not about who you know, it’s about who you put yourself in front of. That really stuck with me. What could you not live without? My notebook and pen. Book club recommendation? Anything by Zadie Smith. On Beauty was my personal favourite. Best party you've ever been to? I maintain that my tenth birthday will forever top them all. My mum took me and a group of friends to the cinema to see My Neighbour Totoro, and made us individual goodie bags filled with sweets for during the film. Song to be playing as you enter the club? Solange — Don’t touch my hair What three things would be on your rider? Fried chicken, a bottle of red and a bar of chocolate. Biggest lie you were told/that you told as a kid? That teenage angst ends when you’re a teenager. I genuinely hung on to that one until long after I turned 20. What's your pet hate? Picking up typos after something has already been printed. AND FINALLY...WHO IS YOUR NEXT BABYFACE GIRL SUGGESTION?Who: Chani Wisdom
Why: Our art director, and general superwoman. She was also the graphic designer for Gal-dem’s first print issue, and DJs on the side and is one of the most hardworking yet modest people I know.
Contact Jamila Prowse