To kick off Black History Month, we’re highlighting some African-American women who have caught our career-minded eye. These women — all under 30 and who have already accomplished so much — still have a lot of big things on the horizon.
Uzoamaka Maduka, Founder and Editor in Chief of The American Reader
At only 25, Uzoamaka already has had an incredible career. This Princeton grad is taking on the bold task of trying to get people interested in literature again with her magazine, The American Reader, a modern answer to The Paris Review. She told The New York Times, “So many of the voices in fiction that are out there are deeply neurotic white male stories of how, ‘Oh, I had weird sex, I can’t figure things out, I’m going to ramble for 300 pages, you better sit still because I’m a tour de force.’ I kind of felt like, I really don’t want to sit still for this. Literature, from women of any race and men of any race, besides white, would always be pigeonholed as, ‘Now I’m going to tell you my Nigerian story,’ and it was so tiring.”
The American Reader only has published three issues so far and is only sold in a few stores, but we think this young woman, who stands at close to 6-feet tall, can only go higher.
Follow her on Twitter: @ReaderMagazine
Lauren Von Der Pool, Chef and Healthy Eating Advocate
This 27-year-old is going to get us all eating healthy again. Hailed as one of the best organic chefs in the world, her international raw and vegan food company, Von Der Pool Gourmet, Inc., has helped manage the diets of Olympic champions (including Venus and Serena Williams), movie stars, and Grammy-winning singers. She also is a big part of Michelle Obama‘s Let’s Move! child obesity prevention campaign.
The Cordon Bleu graduate grew up in less than ideal circumstances in Washington, D.C., saying in an interview, “I remember going to school every morning consuming hot chips and blue drinks for breakfast, dodging bullets, and mourning friends dropping like flies to gun violence. Living in dope-fiend central was no fun, but it empowered me to become the wounded healer. I experienced those things so I would know how to help the people on our planet.” She took action in her community and began selling raw and vegan meals to-go in front of college campuses, including Howard, Georgetown, and American universities. The rest is history, but this young woman still has a lot more to be written.
Follow her on Twitter: @QueenofGreenLV
Issa Rae, Writer, Producer and Director
The 27-year-old said she created the series because she saw a gap in entertainment. “ABG was inspired by a lack of seeing diversity on television and my type of humor on shows of color,” she said in an interview. The New York Times said of her work, “With her microscopic focus and loose aesthetic, Ms. Rae is closest to the spirit of Larry David. She waxes wry about the uncomfortable interactions at stop signs or in long hallways where sustained eye contact is inevitable. There’s rage too, but different from that of Mr. David, who often spins into a dark place after a benign trigger.”
The series, a YouTube sensation and cultural fixation, landed her a deal with ABC to create a sitcom called I Hate L.A. Dudes. (Ed note: Which sounds amazing.) And yes, it helped that rapper Pharrell Williams was a fan, but clearly this girl’s talent speaks for itself.
Follow her on Twitter: @IssaRae
Sabrina Hersi Issa, Entrepreneur
Just listening too all this young woman has done will exhaust you. In addition to being the CEO of Be Bold Media, a digital media firm, and co-founder of End Famine, a campaign dedicated to seeking sustainable solutions to end global hunger, she also is a program advisor at Afghans for Civil Society, a non-government organization that developed women’s programs and independent media in southern Afghanistan.
Oh, and did we mention she was a New Leaders Council fellow, named a Woman to Watch by Washingtonian Magazine and was on Forbes 30 Under 30 list this year? What did you do today?
Follow her on Twitter: @beingbrina
Marian Kihogo, Fashion Blogger
Though her blog has been around since 2009, Marian Kihogo is still the “It” girl of the fashion blogging world. “It’s what a fashion blog should be – informative with a strong personal opinion,” raved Elle South Africa.
Born in Ghana and now based in London, Marian is a celebrity personal stylist, creative consultant, and contributing online editor for luxury fashion publication Push It Magazine. Not only has her blog won awards, but so too has Marian, who was named to the New York Post’s “25 Best Dressed” list at the 2011 New York Fashion Week.
“The press the blog] has garnered still blows me away,” she told Elle. “The reception it has had is a pure honor. Perhaps it has done so well because of my desire to share my point of view in my own voice.”
We can’t wait to hear more.
Follow her on Twitter: @marian_kihogo
Quvenzhané Wallis, Actress
You’ve heard the name a lot lately, but like many of us, you are probably struggling with how to say it (try Kwah-VAHN-Jah-Nay). But we should all work on it because this 9-year-old (yes, really!) is going places. She just became the youngest person ever to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress for her amazing work in the captivating film Beasts of the Southern Wild. She plays Hushpuppy, a 6-year-old girl living with her father, Wink, (Dwight Henry) in an impoverished Delta community known as “the Bathtub.” As she told Ann Curry, she is a triple threat. Her personality is dynamic to say the least (watch this clip). We will see this girl again.
Follow her on Twitter: She is too young to have one, but you can follow her fan page, @Quvenzhane
Know someone we missed? Tell us about her in the comments.