From stripping to starring on season 6 of “Love & Hip Hop” to rapping for sold-out crowds, Cardi B has paved her own unique path to success. In September, the 25-year-old Bronx native became the first female rapper in 19 years to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart with a solo track—and today, “Bodak Yellow” is still going strong at #3.
In 2015, actress Sasha Lane caught the break of a lifetime while vacationing with her friends in Florida. Then studying psychology and social work at Texas State University, Lane caught the eye of director Andrea Arnold, who asked her to audition for “American Honey.” The rest is history—she starred in the 2016 flick alongside Shia LeBeouf and Riley Keough and since then, has signed onto the upcoming “Hellboy” reboot.
British artist and skateboarder Blondey McCoy is only 20 but already boasts five solo shows, modeling gigs with Supreme and Palace, and his own clothing brand Thames. His work, mostly in multi-media collage, has drawn comparisons to fellow Brit art star Damien Hirst, with whom McCoy collaborated for his fifth show “Us and Chem.”
One of the youngest additions to Forbes‘s 30 Under 30 Class of 2018, 12-year-old Marley Dias is an activist and book collector advocating for the representation of black female characters in children’s literature. Her project, #1000blackgirlbooks was borne out of frustration with the lack of children’s book protagonists with whom she could relate. Since starting the the project in 2015, Dias has collected over 4,000 volumes. Now, she wants to start a black girl book club and work with school districts to create more inclusive curriculums.
Also know as Internet Girl, Bella McFadden has built a Depop empire with her hugely-followed store of deadstock, vintage, and one-of-a-kind clothing from the 90’s and early 2000s. McFadden started selling her clothes at age 17—now 22, her Depop boasts over 400,000 followers. Recently, she opened her own online store outside of Depop’s marketplace and released a capsule collection with American Deadstock.
Chloe x Halle
Sisters Chloe and Halle Bailey of R&B duo Chloe x Halle caught the attention of Beyoncé in 2015 after uploading a cover of her track “Pretty Hurts” to Youtube. Bey’s label, Parkwood Entertainment, promptly signed the sisters to a $1 million deal. At only 19 and 17 respectively, Chloe x Halle are poised for massive success. Their mixtape “The Two of Us” was released in March and the two are currently working on material for their debut full-length album.
Model, stylist, and self-described image consultant Aleali May got her start working for Louis Vuitton while at Columbia College in Chicago. Since then, 25-year-old May has styled rappers Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa, and Lil Yachty and was the first woman to collaborate with Nike on a pair of Air Jordans.
Self-described “Yoruba, Taino, Puerto Rican girl with really brown skin, full curly hair, and a spirit that does not quit,” Destiny Frasqueri has been rapping under the name Princess Nokia for three years. Now 25-years-old, the native New Yorker gained recognition for her song “G.O.A.T.” and mixtape “1992,” released this past September. Frasqueri also runs the collective Smart Girl Club and recently went viral for throwing soup at man yelling racial slurs on the New York City subway.
22-year-old photographer and director Olivia Bee got her start at only 15, when Converse found her on Flickr and hired her to shoot an ad campaign. Her work, dreamy snapshots that capture the youth and energy of her female friends, has since attracted prominent clients including New York Times Magazine, Numéro, Hermès, Roger Viver, and Apple.
In 2015, Hari Nef became the first transgender model to sign with IMG in New York. A Columbia University graduate, Nef has appeared on the show “Transparent,” walked the runway for Gucci, and starred as the face of cult label Mansur Gavriel. The 23-year-old is outspoken when it comes to body and gender politics: “In an ideal world, I wouldn’t have to change my body. I wouldn’t have to do all this stuff. I wouldn’t have to be pretty, or ‘feminine’ and people would respect that,” she told Elle UK.
Amandla Stenberg is best known for her portrayal of Rue in the “Hunger Games,” but the 19-year-old is also a proud advocate for women and black culture. In 2015, she made a video titled “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows” for a high school class that went viral. In it, she raises the pertinent question: “What would America be like if we loved black people as much as we love black culture?” The smart, savvy actor is sure to make waves at NYU’s Film School where she recently enrolled.
24-year-old India Menuez is an artist, model, actor, curator, and founder of the Luck You art collective. Whether you recognize her from Tom Ford’s film “Nocturnal Animals,” Miu Miu’s spring 2016 ad campaign or her Sunday Session at Moma PS1, you’ll be seeing much more of Menuez in the coming year. Her artwork was recently exhibited in The Untitled Space gallery’s acclaimed exhibition, “Secret Garden“.
Millie Bobby Brown
13-year-old actor Millie Bobby Brown of “Stranger Things” fame has gained an enormous following for her portrayal of Eleven, a former lab subject with supernatural abilities. Besides her acting skills, Brown boasts a killer voice and flow—during an appearance on the “Tonight Show,” she performed an immaculate rendition of Nicki Minaj’s “Monster.”
Photographer Jhedya McGarrell captures the beauty of dark skin and dismantles stereotypes of brown-skinned women in her work. After submitting to the Art Hoe Collective, a creative platform for and by artists of color, 19-year-old McGarrell was chosen to curate for them.
Better known as That Girl Sussi, 23-year-old Scotty Sussman is reviving 80’s club kid culture in New York City one party at a time. A protégé of nightlife icons Susanne Bartsch, Frankie Sharp and Ladyfag, Sussi brings a unique point of view to her performance and look (which she doesn’t consider drag, by the way): “…Sussi was never another character I created; Sussi is just an extension of my own soul and how I want to look and feel externally. Sussi is everything and nothing, probably more than you think but less than you expect,” she told Loverboy.
23-year-old photographer Grace Ahlbom was studying at Pratt when she was cast to model for Ryan McGinley. The two photographers capture similar subject matter (skaters and street artists) and a couple years after working together, Ahlbom’s senior thesis attracted the attention of fashion and art circles. Recently, the California native shot a digital editorial campaign for Helmut Lang and released a zine through Dashwood Books called “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” that features photos from Los Angeles, New York, Reykjavik and Tokyo.
Michael Xufu Huang
Michael Xufu Huang has been collecting art since he was 16 (he favors post-internet art, and cites pieces from Amalia Ulman’s series “Excellences and Perfections” as recent acquisitions.) Now a senior at University of Pennsylvania, Huang co-founded the Beijing-based art museum M WOODS in 2014. The space has hosted a range of works by art world giants such as Ai WeiWei, Tracey Emin, and Andy Warhol. Working towards an end goal of making M WOODS the MoMA of China, Huang is poised for explosive success at only 23 years old.
24-year-old Tali Lennox turned her focus to painting after landing a month-long residency at New York’s Catherine Ahnell Gallery. Prior to the residency, Lennox, the daughter of Eurythmics singer Annie Lennox, was a successful model with jobs for Burberry and Prada under her belt. Lennox works primarily in portrait painting and recently ventured into sculpture. Much of her work as of late has helped her cope with the grief of losing her boyfriend Ian Jones in a kayaking accident in 2015.
Instagram it-girl and sex-educator Eileen Kelly has garnered over 400,000 followers for her honest dating and relationship advice (initially doled out on tumblr) and enviable style. Kelly runs the sexual health website Killer And A Sweet Thang, where she and 15 writers share personal experiences and educational guides relating to sex and relationships. The 21-year-old was drawn to sex education due to personal experience growing up without an environment in which she could openly talk about sex and puberty. “I attended Catholic school and grew up without a mom,” she explained in an interview with i-D.
The youngest contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race season eight, 24-year-old Naomi Smalls (born Davis Heppenstall) made it to the top three of her season and has since gained a huge following. Known for her 90’s-inspired look and long legs (her drag name is a mash-up of Naomi Campbell and Biggie Smalls), she brings high fashion polish to the drag game.