The Founders

Dwayne Gumbs - Artistic Director

Dwayne graduated in 2006 from Brunel University with a joint BA Hons in Drama / Film & Television studies. He then set about creating a platform to inspire and educate young people through the arts. After founding a drama group this later became Diverse Voices, a unique entity for young people to express themselves and access opportunities in the arts which would otherwise not be available to them. 

As a creative Dwayne is still actively writing and directing. His short film funded by Film London ‘Holy Beef’ was officially selected at BFI London Film Festival 2018 and London Short Film Festival 2019. This led to a development deal with BBC Films writing an original comedy feature film.

After many years honing his craft Dwayne co-founded production company which has a range of projects both in development and in production.

Alex Williams - Managing Director

Alex Williams is a social entrepreneur who is a recognised facilitator-actor-producer and mentor, creating solutions to sensitive and important issues for young people. Over the years he has merged his passion for creativity and growth to breathe life into a number of projects across music and moving image.

As a film producer Alex is committed to bold voices and innovative forms that build meaningful content and provide opportunities for marginalised communities in creative industries.

In 2019, his debut production, short film, Holy Beef, premiered at The BFI London Film Festival. 

He has gone on to co-found Foresight Films, a production company specialising in storytelling with inclusion at the heart of its ethos. Their debut feature film, Running Out of Grime was signed to a development deal at BBC Films and he has a number of other exciting projects at various stages of development and production.


Julia Nielsen - Director of Operations

Julia is a creative with a passion for social impact, putting this at the heart of her career to date. She has previously managed a charitable organisation, overhauling its efficiency and impact with a 64.5% increase in fundraising from the previous year. Building on this, Julia went on to hone her operations skills in a number of companies, most recently within the education sector. As the performing arts were both an inspiration and a freedom in her youth, Julia is passionate about arts-based learning and Diverse Voices’ mission, and furthering their reach and impact.

Tom Phillips Diverse Voices Fundraising Grants Manager

Tom Phillips - Grants Manager

Tom has been helping organisations across the arts, health and wellbeing sectors develop and grow for almost a decade. A performer himself, he is passionate about the role the arts can play in empowering, inspiring and educating young people. Since graduating from Drama Centre London in 2018 Tom has worked as an actor across stage and screen alongside his fundraising and development work.

The Trustees

Leonie Elliott

Leonie Elliott trained at The Harris Drama School for film, television and theatre since the tender age of six. She performed the leading role of Judy Samuels in her first British feature film, 'Wondrous Oblivion' staring alongside Delroy Lindo (Romeo must die, Cider House Rules). 

Among her many screen accomplishments, Leonie recently starred in BBC drama; Danny and the Human Zoo written by and starring Lenny Henry and Netflix Drama Black Mirror. Leonie currently stars as a leading actress in Britain's most watched drama Call The Midwife available on Netflix and in over 200 countries. Leonie is the first woman of colour to star as a leading lady in a British period drama.

Leonie is really excited to bring her years of experience in the arts to Diverse Voices.

Mary Nielson

Mary originally trained as a teacher over twenty-five years ago, her specialist subject and passion was and remains PSHE (Personal Social Health Education).  

In 2004 she become an advisor and trainer within Waltham Forest, developing policy and curriculum in schools to promote high quality PSHE. It was during this role she 1st worked with Dwayne and developed a respect for the work he delivers.

She has collaborated with Diverse Voices since its inception, developing their workshops to ensure they are in line with national and local guidance / standards, as well as producing teaching packs and resources to support their school programmes.

Mary now works as an associate trainer with the British School of Meditation, and is enormously proud to be able to contribute to the continuing growth of Diverse Voices as a trustee.

Simone Watson-Brown

Simone Watson-Brown (she/her) is a Freelance Theatre Director, Diversity and Inclusion Consultant, Executive Coach and Creative & Corporate Facilitator. She also works as Head of Partnerships at Theatre Peckham and is Founder and Director of Dramatic Momentum. 

She trained in Musical Theatre at The Brit School of Performing Arts before obtaining a 1st Class Hons Degree in Contemporary Performance Practice from Winchester University in 2006. She sits on the board of Trustees for Chain Reaction Theatre Company, Purple Moon Drama and Diverse Voices Edutainment.