Youth and fame can often times be a disastrous combination. Too easily, impressionable young adults with limitless access to excess find themselves wrapped up in the fast life, falling into serious substance abuse problems, or just downright put their foot in their mouth causing media scrutiny that they simply aren’t prepared to deal with. There’s no shortage of young celebs that are willing to hop on social media and reveal just how out of touch they are with society, political issues, or anything outside of their latest OOTD.
That’s why we’ve rounded up 10 under 21 celebrities that are incredibly woke. A standing ovation is in order.
20-year-old Scream Queens star Abigail Breslin had a few public forays in the name of feminism – first when she called out a comedian on social media for a tasteless rape joke, and again in defense of Selena Gomez who received harsh criticism over a particular bikini photo. “If we taught girls they had more newsworthy qualities than how they fit into a bikini, we’d have a lot more happy girls,” she wrote on her Tumblr blog, Mixtapes & Winter Coats. Considering teens girls are the most susceptible group to body shaming, it’s refreshing to see a powerful young lady help toss those unattainable and ridiculous beauty standards out the door.
You should recognize Maisie from the fandemic TV series Game of Thrones where she plays the fiery Arya. People oft identify her fierce character as the quintessential badass feminist – a label this free spirit thinks is far too restrictive a word. “I also feel like we should stop calling feminists ’feminists’ and just start calling people who aren’t feminist ’sexist'” declared the 19-year old British actress to Entertainment Weekly. “And then everyone else is just a human.” Maisie is also a mainstay on best dressed list, which she attributes to her affinity for up-and-coming designers and a disinterest in being brand-obsessed.
Actress Isabelle Fuhrman was cast in her first role acting role by chance, but that fortunate twist of fate has landed her bigger roles in movies like Orphan, Hunger Games, and most recently the Showtime series Masters of Sex. The 17-year-old and self-described old soul is an avid volunteer with Save The Children and advisory board member with the Love & Arts Kids foundation.
With only 19 years on planet Earth, Tavi is epitomizing the work of a renaissance woman. Actress, singer, style-icon, socialite, feminist – all of these titles apply to the tastemaker that’s been building her fashion creds since age 12. She started her blog Rookie Magazine at the tender age of 12, and her parents hadn’t the slightest clue of its growing popularity until she asked for her dad’s permission to be interviewed by The New York Times. No big deal! Aside from advocating for women’s rights and organizing a get-well-soon card drive for 14-year-old Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, she also curved critics at glossy mags who labeled her a gimmick. “A lot of people on the Internet have a problem with a young person doing well,” she told the Toronto Star. “I felt like, there were people who were [at fashion week] because of their name, their money or their family, and I didn’t have any of those things.” Snap!
Sure, having mega-stars like Jada Pinkett-Smith and Will Smith as parents has its perks. But perhaps the greatest luxury of Willow’s birthright is the freedom to express herself without restriction. Will and Jada have come under fire for letting Willow and her brother Jaden (more on him later) be so wildly expressive in their wardrobe and hairstyles. Much of Willow’s charm lies in her disinterest and downright refusal to mimic trends. In her cover story for the May issue of Teen Vogue, the 15-year-old puts her wokeness on full display. “A lot of clothes are cute, but after you buy the Yeezy shoes, after you get your hair done with a weave, you’re still the same person. I feel like more and more kids are starting to realize this.” Yaass! Chile is fully woke. Willow, along with her brothers Trey and Jaden, is a youth ambassador for Project Zambi, which in conjunction with toy manufacturer Hasbro supports Zambian children orphaned by AIDS.
Becoming a celebrity often forces people into a corner of silence where honest criticism of the wrong subject can have career-ending consequences. That hasn’t deterred Hunger Games star Amanda Sternberg from calling out celebrities like Kylie Jenner for cultural appropriation. Her video confessional, “Don’t Cash Crop On My Cornrows,” rapidly went viral, and the 17-year-old actress became an overnight pop culture mouth piece for the underplayed influence of Black women in celebrity culture. During an intimate Q&A with fellow tastemaker Solange, published in Teen Vogue, Amanda confessed, “when I was 12 and I got cast in The Hunger Games, and people called me the N-word and said that the death of my character [Rue] would be less sad because I was Black. That was the first moment I realized being Black was such a crucial part of my identity…” She went on to say, “I think that as a Black girl you grow up internalizing all these messages…I feel like the only way to fight that is to just be yourself on the most genuine level.”
At only 19 years old, singer Lorde has a sound confidence that is atypical of pop stars in her age bracket. Better still is Lorde’s rock solid view on feminism and how some of her peers have the term oh so twisted. “A lot of girls think it’s not shaving under their arms and burning bras and hating boys, which just seems stone age to me.” Say that again for the people in the back! Lorde’s supreme confidence is one she likens to that of Kanye West (her celeb BFF), so instead of making goofy surprised expressions when she wins awards (yes, that was shade), she stands up in her glory and sets the tone that women can be bosses, too.
At only 18 years old, Malala Yousafzai has overcome the type of terror that would make grown men shrivel up in fear. In 2013, at only 15 years old, she became the most famous teenager in the world after surviving an assassination attempt by the Taliban, who targeted Malala for advocating the education of young girls in her native town of Swat Valley, Pakistan. Now, after becoming the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize Winner, this incredibly brave and selfless 18-year-old is taking the world by storm as the most recognized human rights activists and authors in the world.