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The Diana Award’s Tessy Ojo celebrates Black Joy and reveals what it means to her

The CEO of the Diana Award writes for HELLO! about Black Joy and how she inspires others to find happiness

Diana Award CEO Tessy Ojo looks gorgeous in yellow

As the CEO of the Diana Award, Tessy Ojo is an inspiration to young people everywhere. For HELLO!'s Happy Inspo Hub, the founder of Tessy's Brunches shares her extraordinary wisdom detailing what Black Joy means to her and the importance of finding those moments of happiness in life...

The ultimate joy is underpinned by hope. Real joy looks beyond the present. Joy is knowing in spite of my present suffering, there is the promise of something to come, a better tomorrow. I bring joy into my life by finding moments of little wins in the present but also focusing on the power that I have to create change beyond me, change that impacts the lives of others. That doesn’t mean I am removed from pain, far from that but it’s the ability to look beyond that. Every day we are all affected by what we see or hear and that’s why it is important we are intentional about finding moments of joy, in spite of!

Diana Award CEO Tessy Ojo looks gorgeous in yellow
Tessy Ojo celebrates Black Joy and what it means to her

I understand vicarious suffering and how traumatic life can be, especially as a person of colour. I was in Washington when the video of the fatal lynching of Tyre Nicols by five police officers was released. It was traumatic watching it unfold. At that moment, I realised that the only bodies I have seen brutalised over the past few years are that of people of colour, mostly black; from Tyre, George Floyd, Breonna or the young girl in Ashford who was racially attacked by 5 people. That image messes with your mind, questioning the worthiness of your existence!

A couple of nights after the video was released, I had the most terrifying dream. Suddenly in this nightmare I couldn't find my husband and my son. I didn't know where they were, and I was frantically looking for them. I saw my daughter, but I couldn't find my boys. I woke up and realised this was from the trauma of seeing a young black man fatally attacked. My brain was still processing it and vicariously I was suffering.

Tessy Ojo looks gorgeous in sunshine yellow dress, sunflowers hanging from the ceiling
The CEO of the Diana Award wants to help young people and women everywhere

Look for joy in the small things, in those quiet moments to yourself, in the acts of kindness and the beauty around us, in our support groups. For me, my greatest joy comes from my children. It was the journey to motherhood that really helped me understand that I had a bigger purpose in life. As the champion of my own children, I realised not every child has that support and I needed to do more to help. I thought I want to do this for every boy and every girl, not just my boy and my girl. The ability to curate Princess Diana’s legacy is an absolute joy as her mission aligns so closely with my own. To bring hope to young people, helping them realise that their lived experience is not their permanent reality, and they have power to create change. Being a mother led me to carrying out Princess Diana’s mission.

I am inspired by so many incredible women; some who are no longer with us. Women like Princess Diana and Rosa Parks, who positively disrupted society to create change. As well as everyday women, who lift their head above the parapet against the odds, women like Brenda Edwards from Loose Women, who after all of the battles that she has been through and losing her son still shows incredible resilience or Baroness Doreen Lawrence, who devoted her life to fighting injustice as a result of the murder of her son. Michelle Obama being her authentic self and dancing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show reminded me about authenticity, despite your title.

Tessy Ojo looks lovely in sunshine yellow dress as sunflower crowns hang behind her
Tessy says: I want women to feel visible

Giving hope that your present does not define your future is what drives my work either through The Diana Award or Tessy’s Brunches, a networking and mentoring enterprise. I want women to feel visible by helping to build a sense of shared purpose and creating connections that helps them overcome barriers and achieve personal or professional success. It also gives me so much joy to see how my friends, who are leaders in their fields across the world, are offering to support this venture. I suppose ultimately, what I am trying to convey through Tessy’s Brunches is that as women, we have value and that value is not determined by how others view or treat you, therefore never ever dim your light…get them shades instead if they have a problem with your light!

Brunch Tickets can be purchased via Eventbrite here: Tessy's Brunches Events | Eventbrite; or our website information can be found here:

Photographer: Amanda Akokhia(@amandaakokhiaphotography)

Wardrobe stylist: Uche Obasohan (@uo_styling)

MUA: Mana Mumin (@mana.mumin)

Hair: Jemi Nwadike (@hairbyjemin)

Florist/Set Design: Maya ( @blooming_flair )

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