1. What A Year For Black Women
2015 definitely had its fair share of lows, but the highs were definitely spearheaded by Black women. From politics to entertainment to sports, women were killing the game across all the major genres. While it was hard to narrow the list down to just a few, here are our picks for the women who made 2015 a year of Black Girl Magic.
2. TV & Film – Viola Davis
A thick cloud of Black girl magic gathered over the 2015 Primetime Emmy Awards with this year’s ceremony celebrating the most black women winners in 24 years. But perhaps the biggest winner of the night was Viola Davis, whose victory made her the first black woman to receive the Outstanding Lead Actress award in a drama series.
3. TV & Film – Taraji P. Henson
It’s no secret that Taraji, aka ‘Empire’s’ Cookie Lyon, has had one of the biggest years in Hollywood. In addition to her TV stardom, she’s also hosted holiday specials, award shows like VH1’s Big in 2015 and the American Black Film Festival. She’s also a serious friend in our head after watching her adamantly support her colleagues like Regina King and Viola Davis at this year’s Emmys.
4. TV & Film – Regina King
Winner of the 2015 Prime Time Emmy Award for Supporting Actress for her role in “American Crime,” King is finally getting her due. We’ve seen her in so many roles we’ve loved but the rest of the world is finally catching up to seeing her Black Girl Magic.
5. TV & Film: Shonda Rhimes
Is there any other Black woman in Hollywood with quite the writer’s pull of Shonda Rhimes? From her outstanding work on “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal,” and “How To Get Away With Murder” to her upcoming book “A Year Of Yes,” we can’t get enough of this intelligent, amazing Black woman.
6. Athletics – The Williams Sisters
Has there ever been a sister duo like these two? Venus and Serena are the definition of excellence, with talent that almost seems superhuman. And this year’s Wimbledon championships afforded us the opportunity to see the sisters face each other on the court and battle it out with the utmost dignity and sportswomanship.
7. Athletics – Misty Copeland
Once alienated in the dance industry for having “the wrong body,” Ballerina Misty Copeland danced her way to the top in 2015, joining the American Ballet Theater as the first African American principal dancer – EVER. And we can’t get enough.
8. Athletics – Simone Biles
At just 18 years old, gymnast Simone Biles made history this year as the first African-American to be all around world champion and the first woman to win three consecutive world all-around titles at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships. Can we say BADASS!
9. Music – Ciara
Ciara definitely had a breakout year career wise, with the release of her album “Jackie,” her cover of the classic Rolling Stones song “Paint It Black” for the film “The Last Witch Hunter” and her gig as a TopShop ambassador, but it was her humanitarian work with boyfriend Russell Wilson that really impressed us. The couple was a fixture at the bedsides of sick children around the country.
10. Music – Janet Jackson
After too many years without the queen, Janet Jackson returned to the scene with a new single, “No Sleeep” and an “Unbreakable Tour.” She’s run into a few health complications, but we know it’s only a matter of time before she’s back in the game and more fabulous than ever.
11. Music – Missy Elliot
From her incredible show-stopping performance with Katy Perry at the Super Bowl halftime show to her amazing set at Essence Fest, Missy had a great year. And that was BEFORE she even released new music this fall. We are so excited to have her back.
12. Politics – Loretta Lynch
In another first, Loretta Lynch became the first African American woman to hold the position of Attorney General to the United States this April succeeding Eric Holder after his resignation earlier in the year.
13. Politics – Marilyn Mosby
Out of one of the most brutal police brutality stories of 2015 with the death of Freddie Gray at the hands of reckless police officers, came the rise of one extremely incredible Black women. Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore’s State Attorney, stepped into the case and seemed to get the investigation moving in a pace that we typically don’t see in police brutality against Black people.
14. Politics – Michelle Obama
She may not be a politician herself but First Lady Michelle Obama has been our favorite figure in Washington for the last 8 years. From her initiatives to end childhood obesity to her push to get girls around the world educated, Obama has been holding it down as the ultimate example for Black female excellence. Not to mention her excellent job as mom to Sasha and Malia and that killer fashion sense to boot.
15. Social Justice – The Women Of Charleston
The power of forgiveness is something that takes intense courage and internal strength. And no one showed that more this year than the family members of the Charleston shootings. One by one, women stepped forward to forgive Dylan Roof, the man who shot their family members in cold blood. Their strength is a true testament to the human spirit.
16. Social Justice – The Mothers Of Police Brutality Victims
The strength, dignity and composure that the mothers of police brutality victims like Mike Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice showed this year has been profound. We salute and stand with Lesley McSpadden, Samaria Rice, Sybrina Fulton and every other mother who has had to bury her son in the face of injustice.
17. Social Justice – The Victims Of Daniel Holtzclaw
Daniel Holtzclaw’s victims inspired us with their courage and strength. They bravely shared their stories and forced the nation to pay attention to crimes against Black women. Holtzclaw was found guilty on 18 out of 36 charges and recommended to serve 263 years in prison.
18. Fashion – Aurora James
Aurora James of footwear line Brother Vellies tied with two other upcoming designers to won $300,000 from the CFDA and Vogue magazine to invest into their respective labels and an internship with an established designer to take their brands to higher levels. We can’t wait to see what she does in 2016.
19. Fashion – Jourdan Dunn
Winner of the BFA’s “Model Of The Year” award, Jourdan Dunn is no stranger to killing the game. This year alone she’s worked for Balmain, Burberry, Buscemi, Gaultier and Dior and looked fabulous doing it.
20. Media – Tamron Hall
The “Today” host has been doing incredible work on MSNBC and NBC and carving out a space all her own. In addition to her work in media, she’s become a tireless advocate for victims of domestic abuse. We can’t wait to see what 2016 holds for her.
21. Media – Kierna Mayo
The Editor In Chief of Ebony magazine has led the team that revived the struggling magazine and put it back at the forefront of our culture. Since her turn as EIC, we’ve seen the magazine start important conversations, most notably with that infamous Cosby vs. Huxtable cover. It certainly got some emotional reactions, but we’re proud to see an intelligent sister making such critical waves.