BPI announces next BPI equality session to conclude Pride Month

Following on from the inaugural BPI Equality Session on International Women's Day, 'Celebrating Pride' is a free event that will take place on June 30th at 4pm.

London, 23rd June 2021

The BPI are delighted to announce the second event in its BPI Equality Sessions series, ‘Celebrating Pride’, on June 30th at 4pm. The free online session will hear from a range of diverse voices drawn from across the music industry and the wider LGBTQIA+ community. We are now pleased to announce two more acclaimed trans activists have joined our discussions – please see details below.

As Pride Month draws to a close, the session will include a series of panels, focusing on how we can work towards further progress through trans and nonbinary inclusivity, issues that continue to be a challenge, and what it is like to be out and proud in the music industry.

The BPI Equality Sessions are designed to shine a light on inspirational figures who are making a difference in their fields and paving the way for new generations to thrive in a more diverse and inclusive music business. The first session, titled ‘International Women’s Day: Women in the Music Industry’, took place on March 8th and featured speakers from all corners of the music community who shared their personal experiences.

‘Celebrating Pride’ is free to attend for all those currently working, or looking to work in the music industry, and you can secure your place here.

Event Chair: MJ Olaore – Chief Operating Officer, BPI

Discussion Panel: Working Towards Further Progress: Trans & Nonbinary Inclusivity

Rico Chace – LGBTQIA+ and Black Rights Activist, Board Member of TransActual UK, Founder of “Against Racism”

Jude – Public Speaker, Consultant and Model

Charlie Craggs – Trans Activist, Author and Media Personality

Helen Belcher – Activist, Politician and Director at TransActual

Chair: Mars West – Artist Relations Co-ordinator/Freedom Chair, Sony Music UK

Discussion Panel: Out & Proud in the Music Industry

Darina Connolly – Head of Label Partnerships (UK), TikTok

Paul Bonham – Accelerator Programme Manager, MMF

Gennaro Castaldo – Director of Communications, BPI

Kieran George – Label Manager, Artist & Label Services, The Orchard

Chair: Porsche Smith – HR Business Partner, Sony Music UK & LGBTQIA+ Representative, BPI Equality & Justice Advisory Group



About our Speakers:

Rico Chace – LGBTQIA+ and Black Rights Activist, Board Member of TransActual UK, Founder of “Against Racism”

Rico provided live updates at the London Black Lives Matter protests along with revealing some of the white-washed black histories. Also for Rainbow Films, he volunteered to create documentaries on racism and queer rights, as a spokesperson and part of the film crew. The last documentary, ‘Pride & Protest’ won ‘Official Selection 2020’ at the BFI Flare film festival. He has also spoken on NHS King Cross Hospital panels and North-East A&E doctors on LGBTQI+ healthcare and on a similar subject at the Mayor of London’s round table think tanks. As a newly appointed board member of TransActual UK, he continues to strive to change UK legislation for non-binary equality, Hate Crime and raises the Black Queer intersectionality question in all forums with speeches at the House of Commons, London Trans Pride, quoted in Forbes and Department of Transport conferences. As a columnist at Wedzera, he continues to speak out about the complexities of sexuality, gender and racial perceptions. Last year in response to the BLM movement he produced, ‘Against Racism’ a nine-part show exploring the various forms of racism and how we collectively can make a difference. Rico is a very vocal activist, fighting avidly for the rights of LGBTQIA+ people and Black people.

Jude – Public Speaker, Consultant and Model

“Paving the way for non-binary representation in the world of fashion is one of Jude’s many noble goals” Vogue Italia (Dec 2020)

Jude began specialising in PSHE, advocating conversations around mental health and resilience in Britain’s schools. Their career developed as they continued on their own journey of mental health recovery that eventually became a journey of self discovery. In 2017 they came out as ‘non-binary’ and went through the process of a medical transition. Through their own experiences and exploring the wider world of gender diversity, they have gained huge insight and began developing LGBTQIA+ and Trans Awareness sessions.

Jude is also a rising internationally represented model. They were the first non-binary person so represent Harrods and continue to be one of the faces of their campaign, featuring in promotional material for Harrods Beauty Stores nationwide. Through visibility they hope to pave the way for inclusion and inspire the future generation of trans and non-binary youth, so that they may see themselves represented, feel empowered and celebrate who they truly are. As a up and coming presence in the fashion industry, Jude is considered a trail blazer in the trans community and often contributes to international press as a proud non-binary role model.

Jude was featured in Vogue Italia in December 2020, where they were invited to contribute on the subject of non-binary inclusion in fashion. Jude has written for Cosmopolitan and regularly contributes to media outlets such as the BBC, Vice, The Independent, Dazed, Pink News. They were recently featured in the BBC Three and Netflix series ‘Glow Up’. They share their journey to becoming Jude and celebrate their non-binary identity through public speaking and influencing.

Charlie Craggs – Trans Activist, Author and Media Personality

Charlie Craggs is an award-winning trans activist, author and media personality dubbed ‘the voice of a community’ by Vogue, best known for her national campaign Nail Transphobia, her LAMBDA nominated book To My Trans Sisters and her BBC documentary Transitioning Teens. In 2016 Charlie topped the Guardian’s New Radicals list of social innovators in Britain and has gone onto be the recipient of a Marie Claire Future Shaper Award, front global campaigns for brands like The Body Shop, H&M and Selfridges and speak at the Houses of Parliament.

Helen Belcher – Activist, Politician and Director at TransActual

Helen has been campaigning to improve the lives of trans people for over a decade. She was one of the co-founders of Trans Media Watch, a UK charity which campaigns for press stories on trans people to be reported with accuracy, dignity and respect, and last year become the chair of directors of TransActual CIC, a not-for-profit trans advocacy company. She gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into Press Standards and Ethics in 2012, as well as parliamentary inquiries looking at trans issues (in 2015) and freedom of speech (and 2017). She has appeared on national media a number of times, including BBC’s Newsnight and the Today programme. She is a Wiltshire Councillor, and has stood for Parliament twice as a target seat candidate. She has been called a rising star within the Liberal Democrats. She ran her own computing company, having built it up from scratch, until she sold it in 2019 to concentrate on campaigning. She lives in west Wiltshire with her wife of 27 years. She regrets not having the time to sing in choirs any more.

Mars West (they/ them) – Artist Relations Co-ordinator/Freedom Chair, Sony Music UK

Mars joined Sony Music UK as a graphic design intern in 2019. They began the group ‘Freedom’, an LGBTQIA+ employee group which aims to make the music industry a better place for LGBTQIA+ people both within Sony music and further afield. They are currently working within the artist relations team at Sony Music.

Darina Connolly – Head of Label Partnerships (UK), TikTok

Darina is Head of Label Partnerships at TikTok, having joined the company in December 2020. She leads a team that works with all three majors and a range of independents and distributors. In collaboration with in-house teams she’s helped established artists, as well as new talent, join the platform, developing campaigns that have driven chart success and generated hundreds of millions of video creations.

Prior to joining TikTok, Darina was Music Partnerships Manager for UK, Ireland and Israel at Apple Music. During almost 10 years at the business she was part of the team that launched Apple Music in 2015, and booked artists for the iTunes and later Apple Music Festivals. A pioneer for the LGBTQ+ community, Darina developed the Elevate programme that promoted new up and coming LGBTQ+ artists and led the company’s Pride initiatives in the UK.

Before her time at Apple, Darina was at Sony Music and MTV. During her career she’s worked with artists including Mark Ronson, Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa, London Grammar, Sam Smith, Gossip, Anne-Marie and Foo Fighters amongst many others.

Paul Bonham – Accelerator Programme Manager, MMF

Paul Bonham is Accelerator Programme Manager at MMF the world’s largest trade body of music managers. Paul runs a number of initiatives including Accelerator, supported by YouTube Music a programme which has supported the development of 65 music managers representing over 200 artists including The Staves, Moses Boyd, Nafe Smallz, Dream Wife, Wes Nelson, Shygirl, and Dry Cleaning . Fuelled by his passion for the eclectic John Peel show Paul accidently begun working in music when asked to help muck out the cowshed in preparation for the first Truck Festival in the 90’s. He has subsequently spent the past 22 years championing and supporting artists and industry access through a number of roles at organisations such as Arts Council England and Attitude is Everything. As an independent manager he has represented Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly and gay independent pioneers Bright Light Bright Light and The Irrepressibles. Paul currently sits on the UK Music Diversity Taskforce and is Trustee for Key Changes – Promoting Positive Mental Health Through Music. He loves Daniel Johnston.

Gennaro Castaldo – Director of Communications, BPI

Gennaro is a widely respected public relations and communications executive with a background in music and film, developed in retail entertainment and the recorded music industry over a 30+ year career. He joined the BPI in 2013 as its Communications Director, after a long stint leading PR & comms for HMV, where he handled consumer press activity and event PR, CSR/community engagement and contributed to key brand marketing initiatives. Born in Italy but largely resident in West London, Gennaro studied International Relations at the University of Keele before graduating with a Masters in European Studies at the London School of Economics. As BPI Director of Communications he manages its corporate and consumer media – fielding enquiries and leading on its announcements and market reports and activities. These range from its public affairs work, international trade missions and support for the BRIT Awards and Mercury Prize. Gennaro’s varied interests cover music across many genres – with a love of Eurovision – film/tv and theatre, and sports.

Kieran George (he/ him) – Label Manager, Artist & Label Services, The Orchard

Kieran is a label manager for The Orchard working across a roster of 70 artists including Jorja Smith, Skepta, and Chip. Previously coming from a creative background Kieran started his music journey, performing for met electronic international group, The Prodigy, and at the Hyde Park 2012 Olympic Concert. In addition to his creative skills, he has done marketing consultancy for Paloma Faith’s 2014 album ‘A Perfect Contradiction’. Assisted in Mumford and Sons touring administration at Universal Music Group; and helped liaise and manage the overall runnings of the UK’s only London Queer Fashion Show.

In his spare time, Kieran has dedicated his time and efforts to doing voluntary and charity-based work, dealing with issues related to mental health, gender and race equality and various challenges faced by young individuals. This was done through coordinating projects and programs with charity organisation Raw Material Music, Sony led initiative HUE / Whatif Freedom / Orchard led CEPA and start-up company EvaCreate.

Porsche Smith – HR Business Partner, Sony Music UK & LGBTQIA+ Representative, BPI Equality & Justice Advisory Group

Porsche Smith is a HR Business Partner supporting employees and leaders on their journey at Sony Music.

Porsche joined Sony Music at the start of 2020 and has always held HR roles in creative industries. Previously she worked as a HR Director at W12 Studios, driving their people strategy and the bulk of her career was spent in advertising at GTB (a WPP agency). She recently joined the BPI’s Equality and Justice Advisory group. Why does she do it? People. People are uniquely different. She mostly enjoys creating relationships, working amongst diverse teams and trying to enhance employee experiences. Out of work Porsche is a Gousto champion. A sort of runner and a big fan of starting new hobbies that last 5 minutes.

MJ Olaore, Chief Operating Officer, BPI

MJ Olaore is BPI’s Chief Operating Officer, where she oversees day-to-day operational and financial affairs, plus development of its commercial activities, as well as leading on all Diversity, Equality and Inclusion initiatives.

MJ grew up in Nigeria and Scotland, and studied law at Liverpool University before taking on her first role at Price Waterhouse in London. MJ has since gone on to develop a distinguished and successful career in broadcast media and entertainment, rising to senior management positions at London News Radio, Virgin Radio and its successor Absolute Radio, all the while developing a broad range of skills across advertising and sales, IT, broadcast engineering, facilities, legal, strategy and research, finance, and operations. Prior to joining the BPI, MJ served as Chief Operating Officer at leading independent market research company Firefish, where she was instrumental in managing its growth from a single UK entity to an eight-company group, with businesses in the USA, Singapore and the Netherlands.


BPI represents the UK’s recorded music industry. We champion the interests of our membership which includes more than 400 independent music companies. Together, BPI’s members account for 85% of all music sold in the United Kingdom.