Author Ben Aaronovitch teamed up with science fiction and fantasy publisher Gollancz in 2019 to launch what was then the Gollancz and Rivers of London BAME SFF Award.

The prize was in response to statistics that showed that less than 1% of books in the science fiction, fantasy and horror genres were from British authors of colour. The analysis of the Nielsen Bookscan figures showed that of 4,589 SFF books published in 2018, only five British writers of colour were represented.

On launching the award, Aaronovitch said:
There’s a problem with British speculative fiction – it lacks diversity. It is, in fact, whiter than a polar bear in a snowstorm who’s decided to redecorate their cave with Dulux’s brand new white, with a touch of white collection.”

Actor Adjoa Andoh came on board in 2020 and is contributing financially and in an advisory capacity.

Adjoa Andoh is an actor, director and writer. Best known on television for Dr Who and Casualty, she can currently be seen as Lady Danbury in Netflix’s Bridgerton, and Nneneke in Netflix’s The Witcher. Adjoa is a senior associate at The Bush theatre and at the RSC. She conceived, co-directed and starred in the critically acclaimed Richard II at Shakespeare’s Globe, the first all-women of colour Shakespeare production in the UK. Adjoa is a regular on BBC Radio 4 and an award-winning audiobook narrator. Adjoa is also a Fairtrade Ambassador and an eternal punk.