You know you’re going places when you’ve written songs for John Legend and Beyoncé, worked with Nas and are featured on Jay Z and Kanye West’s Watch The Throne album; even more so when you’ve accomplishing all of this in your early 20s.
Issa Rae is the creator of the popular Awkward Black Girl web series, a show that touches on the humor in everyday moments from the perspective of “J,” an African-American woman who describes herself on the show as: “Awkward. And black.”
Actress and comedienne Maya Rudolph has been making us laugh for more than a decade. Starting as a cast member on Saturday Night Live in 2000, Rudolph impersonated everyone from talk show host Oprah Winfrey to singers Beyoncé and the late Whitney Houston.
Comedian and actor Kevin Hart has been keeping audiences in stitches for more than a decade. His popular stand-up acts, such as I’m A Grown Little Man and Laugh At My Pain have been made into TV specials and released in theaters.
What do Moesha, The Jamie Foxx Show, Girlfriends and The Game have in common (aside from making us laugh?) They all were written, produced or created by television writer and producer Mara Brock Akil. Akil has offered the world a glimpse into African-American life and culture, with comedic and entertaining twists that keep us laughing.
Twenty-one-year-old rapper Nitty Scott became an overnight sensation when she made her national debut during the BET Hip Hop Awards cipher last year. The Michigan-born rapper lives in Brooklyn and is part of a rap movement called The Boombox Family, which focuses on message-driven hip-hop.
Octavia Spencer is an actress who first became familiar with audiences through her character Constance Grady on the recent ABC show Ugly Betty. While she has been acting for years, her recent roles have catapulted her to A-list status, winning the 2012 Golden Globe Award for best supporting actress and scoring an Academy Award nomination for her role in The Help.
Roblé Ali is an up-and-coming celebrity chef whose talent is just as potent as his sense of humor. Ali goes by the moniker Chef Roblé on his new Bravo television show Chef Roblé & Co., which follows him and his sister as they launch his new catering company and put on events for VIP clients.
Some know actress Tracee Ellis Ross as the neurotic but lovable Joan on UPN/CW hit show, Girlfriends. Others may recognize her as Dr. Carla Reed, the successful psychologist, wife and mother on BET’s
Reed Between The Lines, a show for which she is also a producer.
Willow Smith, daughter of actors Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, works hard. The 11-year-old actress and singer has been on the Hollywood scene for years, first appearing with her father in the 2007 blockbuster film I Am Legend. She quickly followed up with several movie roles. But what made her a household name was her 2010 hit single “Whip My Hair.”
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These 10 African-American artists are making a name for themselves in popular culture. Performers such as Willow Smith, Kevin Hart and Maya Rudolph create their own artistic impact on pop culture history. Click through this slideshow to check out the impact they’re having today.