From buzz-generating It-girls to the ones out to effect global change, 2016 was a warm-up for these unique women on our watch list. Prepare to hear their names in the coming months. These are the singers, models, actresses, DJs, artists, and activists who are going to own 2017, presenting themselves to the world (via their socials, of course) as they want you to see them.
The Illinois-born model has already had an epic year, establishing herself as a practiced Victoria’s Secret Angel, landing a contract as the new face of Lancôme, walking countless fashion week runways, and making her high school boyfriend seriously regretful. She’s on the fast track to “super” status and not just because she looks like a living doll turned sexpot. The industry adores Hill for her “down-to-earth vibe,” love of hot Cheetos, and sparkly personality. Doe-eyed, plush-lipped, and lush-browed: Get ready to see a lot more of Hill in the coming months.
One glance at striking Texas-born Sasha Lane and it’s easy to see why she was asked to star in a movie while hanging out on a Miami beach during spring break. Sure, she has tattoos and dreads, but her magnetic energy is palpable. Director Andrea Arnold spotted the 21-year-old in the crowd and cast her in the Cannes-acclaimed American Honey. Lane had never done any acting, but she took the role in stride, love scenes with Shia LeBoeuf included. Maybe that’s because she knew destiny was at play. “I feel like this needed to happen and it was meant to happen.” Up next: A slew of films coming out this year, including The Miseducation of Cameron Post with Chloë Grace Moretz.
Lee Chae-rin, better known simply as CL, is a Seoul native who got her start as a member of the K-Pop group 2NE1. But it’s her metamorphosis into a badass hip-hop powerhouse that’s made people stop and take notice. She’s collaborated on tracks with Skrillex and Diplo, counts Wu-Tang Clan (Method Man appeared in one of her videos) among her inspirations, and refers to herself as the “Baddest Female.” There’s a Twitter account devoted solely to the songwriter/rapper/model’s style, heavily featuring Alexander Wang and Moschino (no surprise Jeremy Scott calls her a muse). Her video for “Hello, Bitches” is as much an ode to hardcore sex bomb attitude as it is to girl-gang power. Look out for her first American album, dropping this year.
The delicate-featured It-Brit model initially received attention stateside for dating Bradley Cooper in 2015. With a blossoming acting career, the Burberry brand ambassador is poised to become a full-fledged star in her own right. Born Alice Suki Waterhouse, she’s slated to take on a number of high-profile film roles slated for release in 2017, opposite Ansel Elgort in Billionaire Boys Club and James Franco in Future World. She can also put entrepreneur on her resume; her customizable LA-based accessories line, Pop & Suki, has been spotted on Cara Delevingne, Emily Ratajkowski, and Paris Hilton.
ANA DE ARMAS
If this Cuban beauty looks familiar, it’s because she caught your eye in War Dogs or Hands of Stone, two movies you may or may not have seen. With roles opposite Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Jonah Hill, and Robert de Niro, it’s easy to write de Armas off as another lovely-looking sidekick. But that’s not enough for the ambitious actress, who says if her characters had a motto it would be, “Don’t fuck with me,” and barely spoke a word of English when she moved to the States in 2014 and began taking meetings with agents. “I was just nodding like, ‘I don’t know what you’re saying,” she said. “Now I speak English.” She also has a major movie coming out this year: Blade Runner 2049 hits theaters in October.
Admittedly, Sofia Richie is equal parts famous for being Lionel’s daughter and dating Justin Bieber, but not for long. In reality, she doesn’t have an interest in riding her family’s coattails. The 18-year-old model made her runway debut in the Yeezy Season 4 show (wearing a hefty coat in the blistering heat while other models keeled over, no less), commanded the Chanel presentation with fellow prominent spawn Lily-Rose Depp and Sistine Stallone, and appeared on the cover of Complex. Nicole’s little half-sister has bigger goals in mind, like scoring a Vogue cover and launching her own clothing line. Just don’t expect a slew of bikini selfies. “I just want to post what I think is cool…I’m not trying to post some revealing picture to get more followers or more attention.”
The London-and-Kosovo-raised singer-songwriter caused a stir when she dropped her first single, “New Love,” last August. Since then, to quote Dua Lipa herself, she’s proven she “can’t be tamed.” She also admits she lives in her six-inch platform Vetements boots, her grunge-inspired style a seductive contrast to her girlish looks. With light, dance-ready, ‘90s-reminiscent beats set against her rich, robust voice, she’s determined to “blow your mind.” (Her single of the same name has been streamed almost 30 million times on Spotify.) There’s no doubt the 21-year-old has the confidence and prowess to do so. Her self-titled debut album drops February 10th.
When 24-year-old Georgia Fowler found out she’d been cast in the 2016 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, she immediately called her mom. “We were both screaming and crying,” she said. “It was huge – I have been going for it for five years, so it was a long time coming.” After getting discovered at 12 and kicking off her career on the Chanel runway, it’s now the New Zealand native’s moment to command the spotlight, which is exactly what she did on the Victoria’s Secret runway, and not just for her high-profile ex-boyfriends (specifically, Leonardo DiCaprio and Harry Styles). New York City-based Fowler is just getting started.
Don’t let this multimedia and performance artist’s flowing blonde hair and penchant for yummy, searing colors fool you: Signe Pierce’s aesthetic is as much acerbic commentary on our hyper-saturated culture as it is pleasing to the eye. Named one of New York Magazine’s “Artists to Watch,” her short film “American Reflexxx” is too messed up to reflect anything but true life. Pierce, also known as a “reality artist,” isn’t afraid to use herself as a neon-lit canvas or the Kardashians and Real Housewives as inspiration. Look out for more conversation-catalyzing installations and experiments to come.
According to Laura “Kittens” Abedini, she is “feminist AF, gay AF, and sarcastic AF.” She’s also a Los Angeles native with rare DJ credibility (she used to work her magic for Kid Cudi and Usher) who’s fast becoming known for her killer collaborations and mixes. While she juxtaposes her fitted hats against Kardashian-grade smoky eyes, don’t let the cuddly name fool you—or the title of one of her songs, a collaboration with Gladiator. She’s not just “Cute.” The Athletixx crew member is also tough AF. But yes, she’s a cat lover – because according to her, they’re “super-mellow and independent with strong personalities.”
Warsan Shire represents the new generation of poets who share their verses on Twitter and Tumblr, only to be retweeted and reblogged in the spirit of instant verbal gratification. Leading this new class is a 27-year-old Somali-Brit who became London’s first Young Poet Laureate in 2014. Shire writes about the African diaspora, violence against women, and VH1’s “Love & Hip-Hop: Atlanta” with unbiased eloquence, but if she’s known for anything, it’s being the woman who laid the foundation of prose for Beyoncé’s visual album Lemonade. Her first full poetry collection, entitled “Extreme Girlhood,” is out soon.
You might recognize Genesis’ (that’s her birth name; she added the name Tommy) explosive curls and piercing gaze from the sometime-model’s Calvin Klein Fall ’16 campaign. The Vancouver-born, Atlanta-based rapper and visual artist got signed to rap collective Awful Records in 2015, and she’s getting attention for her insurgent attitude, schoolgirl-gone-bad style, and flowing rhymes heavy on sex and sagacity. She spits what she coyly refers to as “fetish rap” with a honey-coated rasp. But Genesis is just “executing” her vision. “Even if you say I’m hip-hop, I’m not hip-hop,” she’s explained. “I make sex-talk art weirdness.”
Bodacious Sahara Ray doesn’t just post enticing photos of herself in cute bikinis to her 1.1 million followers on Instagram. The daughter of big wave surf legend Tony Ray started off as a freelance model, but now she designs said swimsuits under her own label, Sahara Ray Swim, where she acts as the sexy-minimalist line’s creative director. Twenty-three-year-old Ray received extra attention last year for going skinny-dipping with Justin Bieber, but the native Australian and current Los Angeles resident clearly doesn’t need a pop star boyfriend to cause a stir.
I like Hawaii. And I think Hawaii likes me back. A week of meaningful environmental work is made even better when punctuated with endless turquoise waters, pristine sandy beaches, organic plantbased cuisine, hikes through nature reserves, muddy farm excursions, breathtaking ocean sunsets, in-depth cultural conversations, an extra special visitor, salty hair and zero makeup. #lovewhatyoudo #dowhatyoulove #lifeisbeautiful
The self-proclaimed “face of the new green generation,” 25-year-old Erin Schrode does more than merely give a shit. Unlike so many of her peers, she gets up and does something about her causes. Prior to standing strong at Standing Rock, the aspiring Congresswoman co-founded the non-profit Turning Green in 2005, enabling her to launch a youth education project in Haiti, write curriculum for students of an eco-center in Palestine, Jordan, and Israel, and develop a recycling infrastructure in Ghana, to name a few of her humble accomplishments. Even the White House (Obama’s, not Trump’s) called Schrode a “dynamic, passionate, and ambitious young woman committed to creating big change everywhere she goes.”
Few can give Kendall Jenner and the Hadid sisters a run for their money, but if anyone is ready for the task, it’s one of their BFFs, fellow model and famous person’s kid Hailey Baldwin. The former classical ballet dancer (and daughter of Stephen, in case you’re wondering which Baldwin) has made a name for herself scoring editorials in LOVE Magazine, i-D, and Glamour; walking runways for Tommy Hilfiger, Prabal Gurung, and Moschino; and launching her own cosmetics line with ModelCo. Most recently, the 20-year-old has hit the Bahamas for a swimsuit shoot with fellow babes Bella and EmRata – and fought off a few plastic surgery rumors.
Princess Nokia is hard to pin down. The sprawling cyber identity turned alternative R&B artist is the alter-ego of Destiny Frasqueri, a New York City native with an incisive vision. Her first album, Metallic Butterfly, released in 2014 by her own feminist collective Smart Girl Club (she says she turned down “maybe five record deals” to maintain her independence) made critics take notice for its candor. Indeed, the self-proclaimed “Tomboy” and New York underground rap star puts it like this: “I’ve made a fucking fortune wearing dirty sneakers and being a fucking asshole.” Political, rough and tumble, and no nonsense: 24-year-old Princess Nokia is a rare breed with a lot more to say.
Two words: Kanye West. He signed singer-songwriter Kacy Hill to his label G.O.O.D. Music after West’s collaborator Vanessa Beecroft cast her as a backup dancer for his Yeezus tour in 2014. The shy, mellifluous Hill, a former American Apparel model who moved to Los Angeles from Phoenix at the age of 18, quit the tour because she’s not much of a dancer, but that didn’t stop him from taking pause when he came across a video she’d filmed for her single, “Experience.” Now with a Calvin Klein campaign under her belt and a full-length LP, TBA, on the way, West’s porcelain-skinned protégé has a limitless future ahead of her.