10. Malala Yousafzai
When Malala Yousafzai stood up against the Taliban, she received a bullet to the head. She was hurt, but she was not dead and she was not going to let the enemy win. She used the incident to call attention to how women and girls everywhere are denied access to education, and she sparked a worldwide movement toward female equality. She became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for her advocacy work for girls not only in her native Afghanistan, but all across the globe. Malala continues to raise awareness and even speaks at the United Nations.
9. Kylie & Kendall Jenner
The youngest daughters of the Kardashian clan continue to make waves. While their older sisters plod along with their business endeavors, Kendall and Kylie have been breaking out with high-profile modeling gigs and have even appeared on the cover of Teen Vogue. They have been named the most stylish sisters and have amassed a huge following of adoring fans. They have literally grown up on television and have those same smokey eyes and sultry gazes of their older sisters. These young women are attracting their own media buzz and can now hold their own without the help of Kim, Khloe, or Kourtney!
Everyone wants to be Lorde’s best friend. This 18-year-old singer from New Zealand exudes all things cool. Her breakout hit, “Royals” was followed by favorites such as “Team,” “Tennis Court” and “Yellow Flicker Beat,” which was on the Hunger Games soundtrack. She has already made the awesome “30 under 30” list by Forbes. Lorde is not afraid of being her own person and in a world where the media influences just about anyone, she manages to stay true to herself. She also has some pretty insightful things to say about contemporary music and pop culture.
7. Jaden Smith
Jaden Smith is on this list for his power-player status among people under 20 years of age. The sixteen-year-old son of Will Smith, he has broken out into acting and rapping, but his relational ties to a pop culture icon help to prod him along. Jaden is mostly famous for his deep (and utterly bizarre) rants and tweets about modern society. A high-profile Scientologist, Jaden sometimes says insightful things, as well as seemingly insane things. He is widely-watched in the media-sphere for his rants and musings that both raise eyebrows and get people delving deeper into schools of thought.
6. Rico Rodriguez
You may recognize Rico Rodriguez from the hit show Modern Family, but did you know that he wrote a book about his on-screen and off-screen experiences? He not only makes bank, he is a star in his own right, commanding attention and distracting from the ever-popular and beautiful Sofia Vergara. Rico has a kind of charm and class that brings more ethnic stars to the forefront. His appearance on Modern Family has sparked new discussions about the nuclear family unit and has brought more attention to different ethnic groups as well. Rico is part of the movement to break the mold of what is “normal,” plus he’s adorable.
5. Sasha and Malia Obama
Sasha and Malia Obama are commanding the spotlight in their own right. Even though they are the two daughters of President Barack and First Lady Michelle, they are two lovely young ladies and they snatch headlines for their sense of style, their respectful behavior, and their lack of sass and attitude. These girls seem to hold themselves to a high standard and they are great role models for other kids their age. They are loyal to their parents and present themselves with class and sophistication. Yet, they are still teens and they remind us that one can be spunky without being disrespectful a-la-Miley Cyrus.
4. Mo’ne Davis
The Taney Tigers all-star pitcher just broke the threshold to be considered a teenager, and she also smashed through gender and racial stereotypes. Mo’ne was the Tigers’ Most Value Player by a long shot and helped to catapult the team form Pennsylvania to Little League honors. She is a girl and she throws like a girl – a really powerful, confident, and humble girl. Her 70-mile-per-hour fastball, team spirit, and admirable work ethic make her a great role model for young girls everywhere. In a world dominated by males, Mo’ne shines bright and has so much ahead of her. We expect greater things from her.
3. Jazz Jennings
More and more limelight is shining on the transgender community, but we mostly hear about adult celebrities who are breaking out and becoming who they want to be. So Jazz Jennings is a great teen role model for those who are striving for more equality and justice in the trans community. Jazz became famous on YouTube as an activist and is even starring in a TLC reality show about the daily struggles and adventures of a transgender teen. Jazz is like the mini-me of Bruce Jenner; a “girl trapped in a boy’s body,” as she puts it. Jazz is helping to put more attention and spotlight on a whole community of people.
2. Flynn McGarry
We love to eat, and so does Flynn McGarry. He also loves to cook, and since he was ten years old, he has been whipping up concoctions and culinary masterpieces. Now at age 15, Flynn is serving individuals at his own dining spot called EUREKA. He has worked with industry-leading chefs and has cooked with some of the best of the best. He delights taste buds, drops jaws, and makes headlines for his culinary prowess and ingenuity. He experienced a whirlwind tour of Europe in which he cooked, rubbed elbows with celebrities, and honored with Zagat’s 30 Under 30 award.
1. Erik Finma
If you have never heard of Bitcoin, then maybe you should Google it. Right now. Erik Finman is a 15-year-old so-so student from Idaho of all places who took Bitcoin by storm, risked $1,000 dollars, and catapulted to entrepreneurship status. He worked with a freelance programmer to create an app, then decided that he could do better. So he began his own start-up, Botangle, an education and tutoring website that unites tutors and learners to share knowledge and increase understanding. When Erik said he didn’t want to go to college, his dad agreed, as long as Erik make $1,000,000 by age 18. No worries.
Sources: time.com, biography.com, npr.org, imdb.com, popeater.com, huffingtonpost.com, espn.go.com, cnn.com, nymag.com