The Most Colorful People in The Tanning of America

  • Run—D.M.C.

  • llcoolj

  • beastieboys

  • simmons

  • rubin

  • maryjblige

  • ralphmcdaniels

  • pharrell

  • dre

  • iovine

  • eminem

  • 50cent

  • mariah

  • hype

  • rickkrim

  • willsmith

  • spikelee

  • icecube

  • latifah

  • wahlberg

  • jlo

  • jordan

  • tinker

  • shaq

  • iverson

  • paulfireman

  • fabfive

  • angeloanastasio

  • obama

Last night, the four-part television event, The Tanning of America, made its debut on VH1. The first installment of the series focused on hip-hop’s origins on the streets of New York City. As the program continues, we’ll highlight the genre’s path to the White House and detail its emergence as the most culturally significant movement of our time.

Today, we’re taking a look at some of the most influential individuals in the tanning process. From musicians to movie stars and athletes, there are a handful of names that will always be remembered for sparking change. However, this post does not tell the entire story of The Tanning of America. We knowingly omitted a host of  heavy hitters, all of whom played a big role in the cultural shift that culminated in the election of the first black president. If you want the complete rendition, watch the Rock Doc on the VH1 app or on television (Feb. 24-27 at 11 p.m.).

Rather than be encyclopedic, we selected the individuals whose personal stories resonated with us the most. We picked stories of triumph that still blow us away with their trailblazing resilience and attitude. If this article gets your neurons throbbing, come back on Thursday, Feb. 27 for our final breakdown of The Tanning of America’s Most Eye-Opening Moments.