Meet our speakers: Elizabeth Bananuka
Senior comms consultant Elizabeth Bananuka will be taking part in our BookTrust Represents training events in both Bradford and London, hosting the session 'Dealing with the Public and Growing Your Profile'.
Getting to know Elizabeth
Who was your favourite author and/or illustrator when you were growing up and why?
Judy Blume all the way. I was fortunate/unfortunate (take your pick) to go to primary schools obsessed with Enid Blyton and Shakespeare so Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret was an utter revelation. 'You mean there were children and young people not obsessed with drinking ginger beer and solving crime committed by dark-skinned foreigners? Shocker!' This was new information. Are You There, God? still remains one of my favourites and my original copy still has a place on my bookshelf.
Moving into my teen years, I was really lucky to have an incredible English teacher, a Canadian called Mrs. Robertson, to whom I will always be grateful for introducing me to Toni Morrison (The Bluest Eye), Maya Angelou (I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings) and Mildred D. Taylor's Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. I owe a lot to an English teacher with shocking blonde hair and, funnily enough, the bluest eyes.
Who are your favourite children's authors and/or illustrators now and why?
Malorie Blackman, Liz Flanagan and Dapo Adeola. They are all talented - that goes without saying - but I'm increasingly obsessed with talented people that use their platform for 'good'. We live in complex, challenging times and I think children's authors and illustrators can play an important role helping children navigate this crazy world. No, they don't have to and never should they feel obliged to. I just have a soft spot for those that do.
I should also flag that Liz is a bestie, Malorie I worked with briefly way back when and I recently met Dapo. But hand on heart, I don't do bias!
What are you currently reading?
I'm juggling three: reading Angie Thomas' THUG (I'm at a crucial point and not quite sure I can face where it may go), Candace Carty-William's Queenie (just started) and listening to Michelle Obama's Becoming.
It's interesting that they are all Black, female authors. I hadn't thought much about that until now but it's interesting. All three have been hugely successful and while we have a long way to go, I'm not quite sure that my younger self surrounded by Enid Blyton books would ever have imagined I would one day be reading great works by three Black, female authors.
I'm a slow reader (according to my Kindle Fire I have a 'beginner's reading speed') and I'm a slow listener too (I like to rewind parts that make me think) so I suspect my answer will still be the same in a few months. Also, in my defence, work and my diversity side hustle keep me busy!
Who or what inspires your work?
Friends, family and people genuinely making a difference. I'm lucky to have met some pretty exceptional people because of my diversity work. It's strange. As much as there seems to be so much horrendous stuff happening at the moment, there also seems to be so many inspirational people trying to create positive change. It's heartwarming. It inspires me.
Why are you supporting BookTrust Represents?
A diversity initiative that can make a positive tangible difference? What's not to love?
More about Elizabeth
Elizabeth is a senior comms consultant listed in the PRWeek Power Book 2019. She has an in-house and agency background and experience in a range of sectors including tech, youth, education and international development. Her clients have included British Council, National Citizen Services (NCS) and Teach First.
Elizabeth is the founder of BME PR Pros (www.bmeprpros.co.uk) which she describes as 'one person's little attempt to promote diversity in the PR and comms sector'. She developed and manages every aspect of the initiative in her spare time including the popular BME PR Pros / PRWeek Mentoring Scheme, the website (which she likes to point out 'had more than 220k hits all through organic growth in a 16-month period') and all social media channels (she takes full credit for the Daniel Kaluuya gifs).
She has held BME PR Pro events (with all BME panels), delivered diversity workshops for agencies including Weber Shandwick and lobbied industry publications to diversify their judging panels, speakers and commentators. Future plans for BME PR Pros include the first BME PR Pros conference in November 2019 (she stresses it will have all BME speakers but won't be about diversity), 'the inevitable' podcast and The Blueprint (a series of industry-wide initiatives launching in 2020).
Our three-year project promotes and supports children’s authors and illustrators of colour, so young readers find the books that represent them.