Creator of the million-copy bestselling Heartstopper books

Jimmy Kaga-Ricci

Jimmy Kaga-Ricci (born 24 August) is an English singer, songwriter, and guitarist. He is best known as the lead vocalist and instrumentalist of English pop rock band The Ark since its formation with Rowan Omondi and Lister Bird when they attended school together as young teenagers.

Early life

Jimmy Kaga-Ricci was born on 24 August in Rochester, Kent. He is the son of Indian entrepreneur Nikhil Kaga and British-Italian ex-triathlete Chiara Ricci, who is the founder and CEO of sportswear brand Ritch.

Kaga-Ricci was raised by his maternal grandparents after the separation of his parents when he was four. Soon after, Kaga-Ricci’s father returned to Gujarat where he runs several businesses in the sports technology sector, while Kaga-Ricci’s mother moved between Kent, London and Milan while founding and running her sportswear company. Kaga-Ricci has stated that while his grandparents were the true parental figures in his life, his biological parents were still present as he grew up and visited often, but both moved around frequently due to their business and entrepreneurial exploits. He said of his childhood, ‘There was a lot of drama between my grandparents and my parents when I was really little, and drama between my parents too, and I guess a lot of it I still don’t really know in huge detail, and maybe I never will. But I think ultimately everyone felt that I’d have a better life if I grew up with my grandparents. While my living situation and family set-up was an unusual one, it’s not unheard of, and I was a very well-loved and supported child.’

Though he was assigned female at birth, Kaga-Ricci has stated in interviews that he knew he was a boy from a young age, but due to his family’s lack of understanding about being transgender, he did not have access to treatment until his teens. Kaga-Ricci has shared on social media that it was his late maternal grandmother who championed his need for gender-affirming treatment to the rest of his family.

He was raised in the Anglican faith and he still identifies as Christian. As a child, Kaga-Ricci’s grandparents paid for him to receive guitar lessons, though he stopped at the age of twelve after he could play so well that he no longer needed them.

Kaga-Ricci attended Allhallows Primary School, where he met and became friends with future bandmate Rowan Omondi. Aged eleven, Kaga-Ricci began attendance at St Thomas West Comprehensive School, where he and Omondi spent most of their free time making music together, citing nineties and noughties indie-rock, rock, and electronic music as their inspiration. Aged thirteen, they met Lister Bird, also a student at St Thomas West, and persuaded him to form a band with them.


See The Ark

Personal life

Kaga-Ricci is a trans man. In 2017, he was honoured by Out magazine as part of their ‘Out 100’ awards.

At the age of sixteen, Kaga-Ricci was outed as transgender accidentally by bandmate Lister Bird after Bird posted a photograph on Twitter that featured, unbeknownst to Bird, Kaga-Ricci’s puberty-inhibitor medication. Online fans of The Ark were the first to make the connection, which was quickly covered by various British newspapers such as the Daily Mail. As a result of this, Kaga-Ricci accepted a front-cover interview with Vice, in which he shared his experience of being transgender and expressed that while being outed without his consent was ‘traumatic’, he was ‘relieved to be in the public eye as [his] true self’.

The Ark have since been vocal advocates for transgender rights. Kaga-Ricci is widely regarded as the most famous transgender musician in history. In 2017, Attitude cited him as one of the top ten most influential LGBTQ+ people alive.

Kaga-Ricci has been open about his struggles with anxiety disorder and panic disorder and has shared that he has experienced regular panic attacks since his early teens. In 2016, Kaga-Ricci had a panic attack during his appearance on BBC Children in Need, the aftereffects of which are noticeable during the Ark’s performance.

Kaga-Ricci has shared that he could speak conversational Italian and Gujarati as a child but has since lost these skills due to lack of practice.

As of 2017, Kaga-Ricci resides in London with bandmates and friends Rowan Omondi and Lister Bird.