Every year, Time Magazine compiles a list of its most influential teens with members including the privileged children of celebrities, Internet personalities, actors, musicians, scientists, and even political dissidents. This year had especially diverse mentions with Asian-Pacific teens making up a good third of the list, which includes such young sensations and celebrities as Millie Bobby Brown, Noah Cyrus, Isaac Hempsead-Wright, and Jaden and Willow Smith.
Shibby de Guzman
Resistance to oppression takes many forms, and this ninth grader is not afraid to take President Duterte of the Philippines to task for atrocities committed during his war on drugs. The 14-year-old demonstrates that you’re never too young to fight for human rights, and protesting in a nation where dissent can be dealt with swiftly and cruelly, her bravery is exemplary. She also slammed counter-protesters who claimed that she and the protests she organized were “brainwashed.” Despite being one of the youngest people on the list, Guzman refuses to let the prestige go to her head, claiming ““I think that I didn’t really earn my spot, but I did use the opportunity to do good. I just thought that it was the right thing to do.”
Plenty of teen use emojis in their every day text conversation, but few can say that they pioneered the creation and release of a new one. Alhumedhi noticed the lack of representation whilst trying to make a gr oupchat with her friends. In July 2017, the Saudi-Austrian girl’s dream and project was officially implemented by Apple, and based on the hundreds to thousands of other emoji applicants, it was no easy feat. Other social media platforms like Twitter would soon debut their own headscarf emojis, presumably following Apple and Alhumedhi’s example. Now 16, Alhumedhi is continuing to champion diversity and representation in technology.
At just 16, Cravalho has been making big waves as a performer since she won the titular acting and singing role in the Disney film Moana. Her stunning live performance at the Oscars earlier this year demonstrated to the world that she was exceptionally talented and qualified. She’ll be starring alongside Rosie Perez and Josh Radnor in the new NBC drama series Rise. Of Puerto Rican, Native Hawaiian, and Portuguese descent, Cravalho hopes to be a role model and hero to mixed race children everywhere. The world is watching how far she’ll go!
Half Korean and half Nigerian, Han admits that he felt a great deal of shame and faced discrimination for being different in his homeland of South Korea. Fortunately, his differences and unique look have gone a long way in making him a famous and celebrated model. Just a year ago, Han was discovered by an agency via his Instagram. Now, he’s making history as the first black fashion star of South Korea’s catwalks. He hopes his newfound exposure and following will help prevent others from experiencing racism.
Also known by his English name Roy Wang, this 16-year-old Chinese pop sensation has performed to great success as both a member of 20-million-Twitter-Follower boy band TFBoys and as a solo act. He’s already started starring in plenty of screen roles and commercials, graduating from small cameos to more major roles. In 2016, he became the youngest person to ever grace the cover of Cosmopolitan China. He’s also used his star power to benefit multiple United Nations initiatives, and was appointed a UNICEF Special Advocate for Education.
The South Korean-American athlete is the current favorite to take home multiple snowboarding gold medals for the United States in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. She’s been snowboarding since the tender age of four, and although she REALLY didn’t like it at first, she would later become the first woman to land back-to-back 1080 spins in a snowboarding competition. She is also the second competitive snowboarder to score a perfect 100 after Shaun White. At just 14, she scored a gold medal while competing at superpipe in the X-Games. She’ll have both American friends back home and South Korean relatives cheering her on next year.
An accomplished scientific researcher in Britain despite not graduating from high school yet, Nithiyanandam has already contributed extensively to medicine. At just 15, he won $25,000 at the Google Science Fair for his invention, an antibody that can detect early symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Earlier this year, he also pioneered a special bioplastic that can purify water of toxins and wastes. Right now, he’s working on a treatment for the notoriously difficult to cure triple negative breast cancer.
The Iranian-African American star of family sitcom Black-ish uses her platform and fame to speak out on issues that she cares about. Most rising teen stars are afraid of joining difficult, political conversations, but Shahidi welcomes any opportunity to speak out. In response to the Muslim ban earlier this year, she denounced xenophobia and stereotyping. Much like her show, she stays up to date on current events. Shahidi will star in a 2018 spinoff of Black-ish called Grown-ish, which will continue to explore political issues but in the context of her character going to college.
LBTGQ people face extreme discrimination from both society and the government in China. Hu’s daring, feature length film, Escape, which centers on the story of a transgender youth’s journey of self-discovery was met with great critical acclaim and notoriety despite its limited budget and student-comprised resources. Hu would later be accepted by UCLA to study filmmaking. Her efforts to give a voice to those in a nation where they are normally silenced or outright disregarded are admirable.
In 2013, Almellehan and her family fled from Syria in search of a better life. Despite residing safely in England, Almellehan has dedicated her life to trying to help her fellow refugees as an outspoken activist. She became UNICEF’s youngest ever goodwill ambassador this past summer, and before that, has tried to empower children around the world through encouraging them to stay in school and strive for higher education. Her dream is to return to a better Syria some day, and she wants to do everything she can to make it happen.
The 19-year-old Filipino beauty vlogger and comedian boasts over 9 million Instagram followers and a sharp and sassy brand that truly put the personality in Internet personality. Even his roasts come with helpful fashion advice. His career has looked quite promising, especially after he had the honor of hosting the Miss Universe red-carpet preshow. Normally residing in Hawaii, throughout the Fall, Rock’s been making paid touring appearances and photo opportunities for his legions of fans.