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18 Teens Shaking Up Pop Culture

From Alessia Cara to Zendaya, meet the young artists and activists creating the future right before our eyes

Raury and Zendaya

Raury and Zendaya

Today, some of the most powerful voices in art and activism are coming are teenagers who know how to use their creative outlets, as well as social media, to reach the masses. From the refreshingly unique musical voices of artists like Raury and Willow Smith, to Zendaya and Amandla Stenberg refusing to stay silent when they see racial injustice aimed either directly or indirectly towards them, today's teens are creating the future right before our eyes. Here are just 18 of the many influential young pop cultural leaders of our time, in their own words. 


Zendaya, 19

Zendaya has become Disney's latest breakout star not only for her acting and budding singing career, but also for her strong-willed and often hilarious public persona. She's become a master of social media, doing everything from filming videos of herself lip-syncing to Nicki Minaj, to responding thoughtfully to poorly directed critiques of her red-carpet dreadlocks. She got her start on Shake It Up and now stars in K.C. Undercover; this fall, she'll make a guest appearance on the sitcom Black-ish.

She Says: "As an artist I've definitely made a lot of personal advances when it comes to stepping up my music and standing strong in my musical vision, even to producing my own show. But in the future I want to continue to keep learning more about the business aspect of this entertainment world — so important for a young person to know their own business — but also expand into drama and hopefully the big screen."

Her Fans: "I never take [my fans] for granted. When I travel abroad and have massive amounts of people in front of my hotel, I try to sign every scrap of paper and take every picture because I'm honestly so grateful for them. People or 'celebrities' often forget that those 'fans' out there are human beings, real people with real emotions who care and love you! Without those people I don't get to be in that fancy hotel, so I make it my business to say thank you. That's how you know you've made it, but haven't lost what's most important."