All the Starz Are Closer: List of 10 Most Powerful Black Women Voices in the United States

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JUNE 22:  Former U.S. first lady Michelle Obama discusses her forthcoming memoir titled, "Becoming", during the 2018 American Library Association Annual Conference on June 22, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

All the Starz Are Closer: List of 10 Most Powerful Black Women Voices in the United States

These women are unafraid to speak their mind and give us great joy when they do.

Published August 21, 2018

When these women speak, you need to take time to listen. They are strong-minded spokespeople for our generation and our fight for empowerment.

  1. Senator Kamala Harris of California

    2020 is full of immense opportunity, and the biggest opportunity of them all would be to finally elect a Black female President of the United States. Thank goodness for Sen. Kamala Harris, who is not only repping as a Black female political juggernaut, but is also likely a potential Democratic presidential candidate for the 2020 election. 

    It's not often we get to see a face like ours pulling into such high ranks, but it's beautiful to have representation in such a white-male dominated space. 

    "I was raised to be an independent woman, not the victim of anything." - Kamala Harris

  2. UKONWA OJO

    The CoverGirl brand is getting a makeover thanks to Ukonwa Ojo, chief marketing officer (CMO) of global CoverGirl and nail brand Sally Hansen, as well as CMO of Coty's U.S. consumer beauty division.

    She was tasked with relaunching the 60-year old brand and re-attracting younger consumers by providing an advertising face lift to the company. She recruited fresh new brand ambassadors such as Insecure's Issa Rae, actress/personality Queen Latifah and fitness guru Massy Arias.

    For this advertising journey to be a success, Ojo made "ethnic diversity" a top priority to shift the brand perception by straying away from using traditionally young, white women to advertise products.

  3. Congresswoman Maxine Waters

    Everyone is living vicariously through our long-lost auntie Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who has been an advocate for #ReclaimingMyTime and has tirelessly dedicated 41 years of her life to public service. 

    She's taken to Twitter to lend her voice to the most pressing issues upon our behalf. 

  4. ANGELA RYE

    Political advocate Angela Rye is not shy when it comes to telling it like it is. The CNN political commentator has fought long and hard to tackle the undeniable racism and societal travesties plaguing this country. She has been a spokesperson to condemn "45" (Pres. Donald Trump) for his impolitical decisions. She's been a solid political figure in the media, with features in Marie Claire, Ebony, and the Washington Post, and appearances on BET, HBO, and HuffPost Live, where she's opened up dialogue on everything from political campaigns to legislation.

  5. CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE

    What do Beyoncé and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie have in common? Feminism! Adichie is the author of the novels Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow SunAmericanah, and the story collection The Thing Around Your Neck.

    Chimamanda is a world-renowned author, and her 2009 TED Talk, The Danger of A Single Story, is one of the most-viewed TED Talks of all time. Her 2012 talk We Should All Be Feminists jumpstarted a worldwide conversation about feminism, and was published as a book in 2014.

    Her most recent book, Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, was published in March 2017.

  6. Michelle Obama

    Her name says it all! Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama is not only the wife of the 44th President, Barack Obama, but she's also a lawyer, writer, and philanthropist. Beyond being the first African-American First Lady of the United States, she has proven her incontestable desire to give back is at the forefront of who she is. She has been a role model to women, especially those of color, and advocate for military families. She's also helped children lead healthier lives and encouraged all our young people to fulfill their boundless promise for the future.

  7. KIMBERLY BRYANT

    STEM has notably been a white-male dominated industry, but with Kimberly Bryant's determination to provide young and pre-teen ladies of color with opportunities to learn more about technology and computer programming, it was finally a chance to change all of that.

    Bryant is the founder of Black Girls Code, a program that helps raise awareness and teach fundamental, in-demand STEM skills to these young ladies at a prime time when girls begin contemplating what it is they want to be when they grow up.

    To put the power in these young girls' hands and introduce them to programming and technology, there may finally be a chance for a new generation of coders, who will eventual become builders of technological innovation and carve out a lane for their future.

  8. LUVVIE AJAYI

    Luvvie is an award-winning writer, noted speaker, podcast host and blogging veteran known for her witty commentary, and well-rounded pop culture, race, media, and technology perspectives.

    Her debut book I’M JUDGING YOU: The Do Better Manual is a series of humorous essays that dissects our cultural obsessions and calls out bad behavior in our increasingly digital, connected lives.

    “Poised at the intersection of comedy and technology, and wielding the superpower of humor, Luvvie raises consciousness about the real lives of women and girls.”

    — ROBIN MORGAN (AWARD-WINNING POET, AUTHOR & ACTIVIST)

  9. Beyoncé

    A post shared by Beyoncé (@beyonce) on

    "Until there is a mosaic of perspectives coming from different ethnicities behind the lens, we will continue to have a narrow approach and view of what the world actually looks like."

    Beyoncé is always on the forward path to redefining and reshaping what "inclusion" and "diversity" should look like. From the beginning, she's been a boss, but she never could have done it without having a team that is comprised of strong, creative and diverse forward thinkers.

    From hiring an all-female band for her tours to recruiting a 23-year-old photographer (the first African American photographer to shoot a Vogue cover) for Vogue's recent September issue or purposefully enlisting 100 black marching band members to participate in her historic Coachella (Beychella) performance as the first ever Black female to headline the festival, Beyoncé is making history.

    Beyoncé does nothing by accident, and her dedication to always showing that Blackness and Black culture are powerful, beautiful and worthy of inclusion and love, is one of the greatest testaments from the most beloved power players of our generation.

    "My mother taught me the importance not just of being seen but of seeing myself. As the mother of two girls, it’s important to me that they see themselves too—in books, films, and on runways. It’s important to me that they see themselves as CEOs, as bosses, and that they know they can write the script for their own lives—that they can speak their minds and they have no ceiling. They don’t have to be a certain type or fit into a specific category."

  10. Ava DuVernay

    Visual representation is often a glaring issue in the Black community. In a world where it's unlikely we will see characters that look, sound or live like us, we cling to our own imaginations to fill in the void. Luckily for us, the visionary Ava DuVernay, has been able to share and project these untapped stories of Blackness. Not only is she telling our stories, but she's also making efforts to improve diversity on set, by hiring all-female directors and women in high creative roles. She's a film pioneer, and her work on Queen Sugar, I Will Follow (2010), Middle of Nowhere (2012), A Wrinkle In Time (2018), and the critically acclaimed Selma (2014) all speak for itself, and for us, in the most beautiful, skillful, and nuanced ways.

Written by BET Staff

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