In an age of social media, violence and cultural appropriation, it can be trying times, particularly for the youth of today trying to find their place in the world. But with the rise of strong black talent rising up in Hollywood, we’re proud that these young and influential women are using their social platforms and worldwide followings to tackle the big issues.
In the most recent issue of Essence Magazine, Yara Shahidi discusses everything from identity, race and handling fame – big issues and wise perspectives a girl whose only 18 years old.
“I’ve always struggled with Hollywood feeling trivial. Red carpets aren’t worth it. As fun as it is to get dressed up, it is surreal to be sitting at the Teen Choice Awards while [something like] Charlottesville is happening.”
While Hollywood has often been labelled shallow, Yara has used her Freeform series to combine both her activism and her acting.
“I feel comfortable putting my political stances out there without feeling as though I am filling some sort of quota,” she says about being a socially active teenager who still wants to have fun. “I don’t have a wokeness quota for the day.”
Launched into stardom from a very young age, Willow Smith has proved her wisdom and maturity well beyond her years and is now a role model to all young black girls. Follwoing in her mother’s foot steps and being a part of the Black Girls Rock Awards, Willow joined the likes of Janelle Monaé and Erykah Badu in advocating young girls’ right to self-expression and individuality.
Labelled the “coolest girl in the galaxy, even her personal style has marked her cultural and political stance with the “ain’t no wifey” tee and joining the #freethenipple discussion after wearing a torso-printed crop-top. At 14, Willow passionately advocates for black women worldwide always offering perspective and adding value to social debate.
“I’m coming into a new part of my life that is completely unknown, and I’m jumping right in. All I can do from here is continue to shift paradigms and continue to push the envelope further and further. But I am doing it every day just by being myself.”
Joining in the discussion on cultural appropriation, 20-year-old actress Amandla Stenberg, known for her role in the Hunger Games and the Netflix film Everything, everything, cemented her stance on privilege and racism in the media and music industries years ago. In her Tumblr-posted video entitled Don’t Cash Crop on my Cornrows, she sets the record straight about appropriation, giving examples, discussing privilege it in relation to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and opening dialogue.
“When u appropriate black features and culture but fail to use ur position of power to help black Americans by directing attention towards ur wigs instead of police brutality or racism #whitegirlsdoitbetter.”
With so many powerful young women opening up the conversation for women all around the world, we feel hopeful for the generation to come and real change to take place. You girls keep doing you!