A Mus­ing

Gen Z is blaz­ing a trail, on the red car­pet and be­yond

Harper's Bazaar (Singapore) - - CONTENTS - ANNABELLE FER­NAN­DEZ Sub Editor

Pinned to the top of Rowann Blan­chard’s Twit­ter page is the fol­low­ing tweet: “I I be­lieve in my gen­er­a­tion. I be­lieve in girls. I be­lieve in women. I be­lieve in peo­ple of [colour]. I be­lieve in LGBTQ+ com­mu­nity. I be­lieve.” An ac­tress (she starred arred in the Dis­ney Chan­nel’s Girl Meets World) and nd so­cial me­dia star (she has 5.1 mil­lion and countin­gunt­ing fol­low­ers on In­sta­gram) who sits front row at shows like Chanel and Coach 1941, Blan­chard­chard is also an out­spo­ken ac­tivist (she spoke about gen­der in­equal­ity in youth at the UN Women’smen’s an­nual con­fer­ence in 2015)… And she is only 15 years old.

Yes, she’s just in her mid-teens—proof f thatth t GenG en Z-ers don’t just spend their en­tire day post­ing self­ies­fies on In­sta­gram. Mem­bers of Gen Z, usu­ally de­fined as those born in or af­ter 1995, grew up in a world of con­tin­u­ous up­dates and con­stant con­nect­ed­ness.s. They can ef­fort­lessly sift through the un­end­ing g bar­rage of in­for­ma­tion and zoom in on the is­sue­ses that mat­ter to them. And thanks to the ease of tech­nol­ogy, they are able to con­nect with other r like-minded youths around the world who are pas­sion­ate about the same is­sues, no mat­ter how niche they might be.There are many words you can use to de­scribe Gen Z, but ap­a­thetic is not one of them. hem. In fact, the in­verse is true.To de­scribe them in their own words, this gen­er­a­tion is #woke.

Case in point:This year’s Teen Choice Awards in­cluded, uded, for the first time, the Choice Change­maker award. Blan­chard’shard’s best friend, Black-ish ac­tress Yara Shahidi, 17, was a fel­low llow nom­i­nee. Shahidi is ac­tively in­volved in ini­tia­tives suchch as Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn, and was ac­cepted into all of the col­leges she ap­plied to—com­plete with haa rec­om­men­da­tion let­ter from the for­mer First Lady, no less. ess. She will be go­ing to Har­vard in 2018 and, nat­u­rally, plans to ma­jor in so­cial stud­ies. She told Rolling Stone magazine, “At the crux of [my ma­jor], at the crux of act­ing and at the crux of every­thing I do is a de­sire to un­der­stand hu­mans—[and to be­come] ac­tive in a way that touches any­body or even ac­ti­vates any­body.”

Zen­daya, 20, an­other nom­i­nee, is one of the most popular young ac­tresses to­day, with 44.1 mil­lion fol­low­ers on In­sta­gram. Her ac­cep­tance speech upon win­ning the award for Choice Sum­mer Movie Star: Fe­male for Spi­der-Man: Home­com­ing in­cluded this shoutout: “Right now, I need you guys to be ed­u­cated. I need you to lis­ten. I need you to pay at­ten­tion. And I need you to un­der­stand that you have a voice and it is okay to use it when you see some­thing bad hap­pen­ing… Be­cause we are the fu­ture lead­ers of the world.” Un­like their pre­de­ces­sors, who were mostly con­tent to be pretty faces and/or clotheshorses, to­day’s crop of young celebri­ties each have some­thing to say and are more than adept at us­ing the plat­forms avail­able to them to make their voices heard.Take Amandla Sten­berg, 18, for ex­am­ple: In 2015, the ac­tress posted a video she made with a class­mate for his­tory class on Tum­blr, ti­tled “Don’t Cash Crop My Corn­rows”, where she dis­cussed the ap­pro­pri­a­tion of black cul­ture by mass me­dia.The video promptly went vi­ral, and kick-started mul­ti­ple di­a­logues on the topic across web­sites and so­cial me­dia. Sten­berg is also in­volved with Art Hoe Col­lec­tive, an on­line move­ment for artists of colour to show­case their work; and has col­lab­o­rated with Stranger Comics on a ser ies of g raphic nov­els ex­plor­ing themes like race and re­li­gion—the lat­est edi­tion, Niobe: She is Death, was re­leased in May 2017. Racism, re­li­gion, pol­i­tics and be­yond… These youths are not afraid to touch on con­tro­ver­sial is­sues. In fact, for some, like Paris Jack­son, the abil­ity to make a dif­fer­ence through so­cial me­dia, and their own aware­ness of the in­flu­ence they wield, is ex­actly why they have cho­sen to em­brace their celebrity sta­tus. She told Harper’s BAZAAR US ear­lier this year,“Plenty of times I’ve thought about not do­ing any­thing in the pub­lic eye and hav­ing my own pri­vate life.Then I started see­ing how every­thing in the world is go­ing.And I feel like each year it’s get­ting worse... I know there are a lot of peo­ple who would feel very blessed to be in my po­si­tion, so I want to use it for im­por­tant things.” Jack­son shares with her 1.8 mil­lion In­sta­gram fol­low­ers “mes­sages of peace and love and equal­ity”, in­clud­ing her views on women’s rights and hu­man rights. “I have a lot of ideas, but I’m still try­ing to fig­ure out the right way to do it. I mean, I’m 18. I can’t have it all to­gether, but I do have a plan.” Clearly, she has her A-game on—not bad for a gen­er­a­tion that’s right at the end of the alphabet. ■ Send me your com­ments on In­sta­gram: @neon­wa­ter­melon

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