Black girls have always had magic.
It’s in our hair, our skin, or hips and between our ears. From Dorothy Dandridge to Dej Loaf, upside down and back around again, black women have long been sorcerers of skill, seduction and swag. Whether playing double dutch or directing Academy-Award nominated films, whatever black girls set out to do, it’s done in the spirit of excellence. It is also oftentimes done for the first time, as breaking barriers is considered light work for melanin enriched queens.
Yet black girls haven’t always been the recipients of kind words or actions. As Zora Neale Hurston said, “Black women are the work mules of society,” and have long had to bear the weight of racism and sexism. Black girls have been shamed for their skin color, and then ridiculed for their voluptuous figures; Sarah Baartman being the earliest and most famous of black women to endure that harsh reality.
But soon a tide began to change and black women began demanding more for themselves and their daughter’s daughters. After foundation was laid by our foremothers, today’s black girls have been able to reach unimaginable heights. Whether it be in entertainment, sports or Hollywood, black girls held their own and proved their magical powers to be true.
Rewind 2015 and look back at all the Black Girl Magic that unfolded.
Young, gifted and woke are the words that best describe this 17-year-old Amandla Stenberg.
Whether it be as simple as wearing a hoodie that says “Black girls are magic” or chin-checking a member of the Kardashian-Jenner clan for their cultural appopriation, Stenberg ain’t neva scared, which is probably why she earned the welldeserved title as one of TIME Magazine’s most inluential teens, and just think, if she’s this dope at 17, can you imagine what she’ll be like in the future?
FAVORITE BGM MOMENT: Amandla Stenberg’s Wokeness Is On Full Display In A New Fader Interview
Everyone wants to be Ava DuVernay, so says the faster-than-lightning speed with which her special edition Barbie sold out.
And while the former publicist turned Academy-Award nomindated director became Hollywood’s darling with her film Selma, she still maintained a certain accessibility. Whether it be cheering on Bree Newsome as she took down the Confederate Battle Flag, or LOLing with the rest of Black Twitter when Black Twitter does what its known to do, Ava showed she’s still down-to-earth.
Cinematically, she kept quiet in 2015, which can only mean she’s cookin’ up something good for the new year.
FAVORITE BGM MOMENT: #AvaBarbie Mania: Ava DuVernay’s Barbie Doll Is Selling Like Hotcakes
One would never assume Courtney Kemp-Agboh, with her wide, warm and welcoming smile, is the mastermind behind STARZ’s gritty and violent drama, POWER.
As the show’s writer, producer and showrunner, Agboh, a former VIBE staffer, keeps fans not only on the edge of their seat, but questioning their own moral standing as the drama’s complex characters reside in life’s gray area.
As a woman who believes there’s no scene unless there’s conflict, fans were left with their jaws on the floor at the end of season two, and with season three slated to return, we may just go into cardiac arrest.
FAVORITE BGM MOMENT: ‘Power’ Trip: Courtney Kemp Agboh And 50 Cent Talk ‘Empire’ Comparisons And Kanon’s Season 2 Plans
With more than 20 years of experience in Hollywood and TV, it appears as if the youthful 43-year-old struck gold with Being Mary Jane. Tackling issues such as abortion, suicide and the more light-hearted, yet equally juicy, friends with benefits, Gabrielle Union shows off her seasoned acting chops in the BET original, turning a boring Tuesday night into so much more.
But never one to rest (or simply have one job) Mrs. Wade is about to go for the gold in the Nate Parker directed film “Birth of Nation” playing a slave in the the Nat Turner slave rebellion, which goes to show, Gabby is more than just a pretty face.
FAVORITE BGM MOMENT: This Video Will Make You Wish Gabrielle Union And Jimmy Fallon Did Your High School Announcements
What’s so “awkward” about a funny, smart, business savvy black girl who leveraged the fanbase of her hilarious YouTube show into a series, co-written by The Nightly Show’s Larry Wilmore, which will live on HBO that chronicles the lives of two black women and their ups and downs? Please, someone tell us what’s so “awkward” about all that awesomeness? Don’t worry, we’ll wait.
FAVORITE BGM MOMENT: Issa Rae’s Comedy “Insecure” Is Headed To HBO
Mara Brock Akil has always understood black women are three dimensional and never a one-size fits all. After the success and cult like following of BET’s Girlfriends, Akil created magic with Being Mary Jane. With Gabrielle Union as the lead, Akil, unabashed and unafraid tackled issues women are sometimes too afraid to confront even with their closest girlfriends.
The married mother of two announced she’d be stepping down as showrunner after season 3 to begin a multi-year deal with Warner Brothers, which could only mean one thing: more compelling stories will be brought to our living rooms staring actors and actresses that diversify evening television.
FAVORITE BGM MOMENT: First Take: Mara Brock Akil’s Blueprint For Running Your Own Show
Every part of Misty Copeland’s 5-foot-2-inch body has a purpose. Her graceful, toned physique is used to capture the poetry that is ballet. As she dances, sometimes appearing as if she’s floating across stages, she leaves many speechless at her ability to evoke, with her instrument, the beauty of it all.
Yet the 33-year-old won the hearts of many long before becoming the first African-American Principal Dancer of the prestigious American Ballet Theater, and by Misty simply being Misty, she’s now giving little black girls everywhere proof they too can become ballet dancers.
It’s no longer just a fairytale, Misty made it a reality.
FAVORITE BGM MOMENT: Poetry In Motion: Ballerina Misty Copeland On Standing Out
Fans are salivating, almost flatlining, as they wait for Rihanna to release her highly-anticipated eighth solo album, Anti, but that doesn’t mean Rih Rih hasn’t been working.
Her PUMA woman’s creeper sold out before everyone else could get their money up. She inked her partnership with STANCE socks, released her self-titled perfume Rihanna, and inked a smooth $25 million sponorship with Samsung that will foot the bill for her world tour and album. Not to mention the other business deals up her sleeve she hasn’t revealed yet.
We see you Ms. Fenty.
FAVORITE BGM MOMENT: Rihanna Launches Her Own Beauty And Stylist Agency
Shonda Rhimes owns Thursday nights and the only other person, or entity, that owns a day of the week is the NFL. So, if you think about it, it’s this multibillion dollar corporation of white guys, and then one amazging black girl.
Because of Shonda Rhimes we know Papa Pope’s monologues are gold. Because of Shonda Rhimes if we’re ever fighting off the common cold, or we need to amputate a leg, we’ll request to be treated at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. Because of Shonda Rhimes we’re not sure if Annalise Keating is an asset or a liability, but we love her anyway.
Because of Shonda Rhimes, seeing women and men, old and young, gay, straight, black, white or whatever isn’t groundbreaking, it’s Shondaland. And in a world full of distractions, because of Shonda, we still have good old fashion television.
FAVORITE BGM MOMENT: Clap For Her: Shonda Rhimes Tapped To Produce New FX Mini Series
Taraji P. Henson
She instantly became our favorite when she said those four magic words “I hate you Jody!” in the classic film Baby Boy. She then got Hollywood to take notice with her Academy-Award nominatedperformance starring opposite Brad Pitt in Benjamin Button.
As Taraji melts into roles and embodies the character, our favorite D.C. girl hasn’t forgotten where she’s from, which makes loving her so easy. Henson, who’s equal parts an A-List celeb and still very ’round the way, just earned a Golden Globe nomination for her role as the take-no-mess Cookie on Lee Daniels Empire.
THe 45-year-old is riding high on the success she’s worked for, and she’d doing it by still being Traji.
FAVORITE BGM MOMENT: Taraji P. Henson, Kerry Washington And Mary J. Blige Dance The Day Away In A New Apple Music Commercial
Tracee Ellis Ross
What is there not to love about Tracee Ellis Ross? Could it be her impeccable style? Her gorgeous, rambuncious curly hair? Or maybe its her killer body? No, it has to be the fact that she makes us all LOL in real life while on her hit TV show Black-ish? Or maybe it’s the bars she drops with as her rap alter-ego T-Murda? (It’s definitely the bars)
If we’re being honest, what we love most about Mama D’s babygirl is that Tracee is all these things and more, and most importantly she wants the same for black girls the world over, which is why we love her so.
FAVORITE BGM MOMENT: Tracee Ellis Ross Gave Instagram 15 Seconds Of Sexy While Listening To “Hotline Bling”
Academy-Award nomine Viola Davis is brilliant, simply put. Her dedication to her craft and ability to submerge herself into each role she plays is nothing short of genius, especially if she’s playing Annalise Keating, an attorney who is both the cause of everyone’s problems as well the solution.
Yet, what makes Viola Davis amazing is when she is given a platform to speak, she doesn’t cower or shy away from the opportunity. She bodly stands up for the rights of black actresses and reminds Hollywood that black women are more than capable of not only doing the job, but doing it well.
“The only thing that that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.”
Because of Viola and her work, that separation has narrowed just a little more.
FAVORITE BGM MOMENT: Watch Viola Davis’ Speech Following Emmy Award Win
When it looked like all hope was lost, Baltimore State Attorney Marilyn Mosby became a hero for her hometown, and black people nation wide as she acted swiftly in filing charges against the six police officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray.
The young prosecutor fearlessly spoke to the people of B-More on the steps of the Baltimore’s War Memorial and outlined the 28-counts the officers would face including false imprisonment and second-degree murder.
Mosby, 35, also aggressively announced her department’s investigation would seek justice for Gray who was just 25 when he died while in police custody from spinal injuries. The fight may not be over, but if there’s one thing Ms. Mosby did, it was prove not all super heroes wear capes, instead, some fight crime while in a courtroom.
FAVORITE BGM MOMENT: Boss Moves: Baltimore State Attorney Marilyn Mosby Profiled In ‘Vogue’
First Lady Michelle Obama has always been the perfect role model for black girls, but in 2015 she made it her business to let black girls know they indeed rock.
Whether it be by attending Beverly Bond’s annual award show and saying it proudly on a stage, or speaking with girls at the Apollo Theater urging them to take their education seriously, FLOTUS has always understood the plight black girls face, and has used her platform to let them know they matter, they’re important and they are capable and for that, she’ll always be our First Lady.
FAVORITE BGM MOMENT: FLOTUS Offers Sage Life Advice While Speaking To Young Girls At The Apollo
The force has always been with Lupita Nyong’o, and now as alien Maz Kanata in the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens, her force, which comprises of her undeniable beauty, elgance, grace, and class will take the Oscar winner’s already thriving career to new heights.
FAVORITE BGM MOMENT: Lupita Nyong’o Now Has An Entire Day Dedicated To Her
Obviously Zendaya Coleman won the genetics contest, but aside from her gorgeous face and beautiful body, this 19-year-old singer, actress and dancer won over Giuliana Rancic’s pettiness, when the E! Fashion Police host issued a jab Zendaya way over her faux locks she wore at the 2015 Oscars. Instead of “clapping back” as social media would suggest, in well-written note to Rancic and anyone who shared her sentiments, Zendaya, the daughter of educators, educated the 41-year-old talking head on the many men and women who have succeeded in their arenas with their locs. Zendaya’s response took over social media for its elegance, its truth and its ability to combat hate with love, which is exactly what Zendaya stands for.
FAVORITE BGM MOMENT: Barbie Will Honor Zendaya With A Doll Reflecting Her 2015 Oscar Look