Renowned as one of the most multicultural cities in the world, Toronto prides itself upon the motto––"Diversity our Strength". The city’s multiethnic population has created a stimulating environment for creativity, entrepreneurial talent, open-mindedness to religious minorities and LBTQIA rights, and opportunities for diverse voices in the media. From beauty and lifestyle to social activism, African voices have been an especially influential force among the city's population for decades.
Toronto’s diverse culture and celebration of the African diaspora are reflected in its plethora of African influencers. From beauty bloggers to activists, African women have a pervasive presence on Instagram, in particular, pioneering hairstyle trends, sharing book reviews and wellness advice, and spearheading social justice campaigns. The Folklore team has selected some of our favorite African influencers in Toronto, just a handful of the incredible African voices who shape the local media scene.
Though these seven influencers are all based in the same city, their eclectic set of talents reach followers all over the globe. From Faarrow, a Somali R&B band, to Shannae Ingleton Smith, founder of an influencer agency focusing on diversity, these voices engage in impactful conversations with their followers.
Faarrow is a Toronto-based R&B band starring Somali sisters Siham and Iman Hashi. Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, the sisters were raised in a traditional Muslim household but moved to Atlanta in 2007 to pursue a career in music. After signing with Universal Motown, they became the first female Somalian artists to sign with a prominent US record label. Today, they are globally recognized for their debut album “Sweet Rush,” their non-profit organization, “Somalia Lives Again,” and their avant-garde aesthetic.
Marina Ajavon is a model, activist, and athlete. Partnered with Dulcedo Models, a Toronto and Montreal-based modeling agency, her social media gives you a glimpse into her daily life as a model, her outspoken beliefs, and her athletic training.
Mariama Diallo is a Guinean influencer from Toronto who has been featured in Vogue as an influential model to watch out for. She has been recognized for her glowing beauty and minimalist yet glamorous aesthetic. In addition to modeling and fashion, her social media provides a glimpse into her hair and beauty routine and her adventures all over the globe.
Amaal Nuux is a Somalia-Canadian R&B singer who is based in Toronto. Born in Mogadishu, she emigrated with her family first to East Africa during the Somali Civil War. She garnered hundreds of thousands and ultimately millions of views on her YouTube channel before she dropped her debut EP, Black Dove. The six track collection explores sexuality and intimacy, topics that were culturally ingrained in her as taboo. Straddling the fine line between her experience as a child refugee with a more traditional upbringing and her experiences as a young woman, she opens up about identity and vulnerability through her music.
Canadian fashion influencer Tania Cascilla is the founder of her fashion and lifestyle blog, Darling Tee. Currently based in New York, Cascilla has worked in various sectors of the fashion industry for the past twelve years and founded her blog to share style inspiration and connect with other fashion enthusiasts. She also co-founded The Glow Up Inc, a community for black influencers, with Shannae Ingleton Smith.
Shannae Ingleton Smith
Shannae, known as Toronto Shay on Instagram, is the founder of Kensington Grey, a boutique diversity-focused influencer agency specializing in Influencer casting, talent, strategy and campaign management. In addition, she has partnered with Tania Cascilla of The Darling Tee to cofound The Glow Up. She actively works to diversify the influencer community and support women of color, in particular. Her Instagram provides a glimpse into her life as a fashion and lifestyle influencer, mom, and activist.
Chloe Christian is a Toronto-based model known for her futuristic aesthetic, natural, glowing beauty, and her art. Follow her social media for some style inspiration and to take a behind-the-scenes look at her art.
Words by Livia Caligor