Danni Washington was born to make waves in the world. Her affinity for the ocean first ignited at the age of six, and she wanted nothing more than to learn about the creatures that called it home. But as a person of colour, this desire seemed to be nothing more than a fantasy. “I faced so many people who told me, ‘No, you can’t do that, you’re black. Black people don’t swim’,” Washington says. “But that was fuel to my fire.” Now years later, she’s making history as an ocean advocate and science extraordinaire.

Raised in Miami and of Jamaican heritage, Washington quickly became aware of the absence of people of colour in marine conservation. “I’ve always relied on my love for the ocean and that’s kept me going,” she says. Propelled by her passion, she acquired a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology. Along with her mother, Washington co-founded the non-profit organisation The Big Blue & You and began educating youth about the ocean through arts and media. After her impact caught the attention of broadcasting companies, Washington’s career catapulted.

Today, Washington is the first African American woman to host her own science television show, Xploration Nature Knows Best. Through the educational series, she delves into the latest advancements in bio-inspired technology and design, while promoting diversity in STEM fields. “My main vision is to encourage more people of colour to be a part of ocean science,” she says. Turning the tide on exclusion and inequality, Washington is shaping a future where everyone can play their part in protecting the natural world. “The ocean needs us right now,” she says.