20 Girl Bosses Who Won 2017

by Aniyah Morinia

2017 was the year of staying woke and reclaiming our time. Women of color did just that, defying all odds and sprinkling their magic on all fronts. Beauty, fashion, and television are forever changed by the work that these girl bosses put in this year. We must recognize the women who are paving the way for future generations and doing so with grace and resilience. Here are 20 women who thrived in 2017 and will probably rule 2018.

1. Rihanna

Rihanna was absolutely unstoppable this year and we have Fenty Beauty and Fenty Puma to thank for that. Rihanna still managed to hop on our favorite summer track, “Wild Thoughts,”even with Fenty Beauty as her main focus. This makeup line made $72 million in just one month and was named one of TIME’s best inventions of 2017. 40 shades and a whole lot of inclusivity made Fenty Beauty the makeup line you just couldn’t ignore this year.



2. Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Now referred to as Auntie Maxine by fans, this congresswoman has publicly refuted any laws or policies that encourage the reversal of civil rights in America. Her unapologetic nature and intelligence have been a driving force for the next generation throughout 2017. If Ms. Waters taught us anything this year, it was to reclaim our time.


3. Issa Rae

We laughed, we replayed, and we gasped at the characters of Issa Rae’s hit series, “Insecure.” Who would’ve thought that the Obamas were also tuned in? Her performance in “Insecure,” even earned her a second Golden Globe nomination for 2018.  When she was not writing, directing and producing her HBO series, Rae signed her Covergirl contract and released her Melting Pout Metallics.


4. TIffany Haddish

Girls Trip is the first film to be directed, produced, written by and starring African-Americans to gross $100 million in ticket sales. Tiffany Haddish was the breakout star who continued to keep us laughing off screen. Haddish made history, becoming the first black female comedian to host SNL and now she’s onto so much more in 2018.


5. Cardi B

This regular degular girl from the Bronx broke records and topped charts in 2017. Cardi B was the first female rapper to top the Billboard Top 100 with since Lauryn Hill with Bodak Yellow. Cardi transformed her “bloody shoes” lyric into a shoe collection with Steve Madden and is making more money moves for 2018.


6. Sza

Who else could not stop singing “Love Galore” and “The Weekend”? The internet went crazy for Sza’s debut studio album, Ctrl and rightfully so. Sza is nominated for five Grammy Awards, granting her the most Grammy nominations for a female artist in 2017.


7. Yara Shahidi

Known for her role as Zoey Johnson on “Black-ish,” Yara Shahidi has become our favorite teen activist/actress. Radiating eloquence and positivity in all that she does, Shahidi was named one of Forbes’ Hollywood 30 under 30. You can expect to see more from Shahidi in 2018 as she stars in “Grown-ish,” a spin off comedy set to air Jan. 3.


8. Tracee Ellis Ross

This “Black-ish” star made history at the 2017 Golden Globes by winning best actress in a comedy series. She was the first black woman to win this award since Debbie Allen in 1982. Tracee Ellis Ross continued her wins with award shows and hosted the 2017 American Music Awards, where she paid homage to her legendary mother, Diana Ross. Let’s not forget about the affordable and trendy clothing line that Ross released at your neighborhood J.C. Penny this year.


9. Lena Waithe

Her heartfelt Emmy’s speech was trending and posted on all social sites, for good reason. Lena Waithe became the first African-American woman to win an Emmy for writing in a comedy series. She co-wrote the ‘Thanksgiving’ episode for the Netflix series, “Master of None,” which told a personal coming out story. An autobiographical drama series called “The Chi” is set to premiere Jan. 7, 2018.


10. Rupi Kaur

Poems from “Milk and Honey” and “The Sun and Her Flowers” flooded every social media feed this year. Rupi Kaur provided us with the words we needed to hear but could not articulate ourselves. She is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and went on a 13-city tour to share visual performances of her poems. We’re hopeful for more collections in the new year.


11. Teyana Taylor

From front row to center stage, this singer/actress did not pass up the opportunity to show off her killer moves at New York Fashion Week. 2017 is almost over and it’s safe to say that we’re still recovering from Teyana Taylor’s fierce strut down GCDS’s pink carpet. The next day, Taylor left us impressed (and slightly jealous) of her striking choreography at Phillip Plein’s show. To top off the year, Taylor met her idol, Janet Jackson and announced a VH1 reality series set to air Feb. 19, 2018.


12. Elaine Welteroth

Teen Vogue appointed a new editor-in-chief this year and the decision was quite revolutionary. Elaine Welteroth became the second African-American in Condé Nast’s 107-year history to hold the title of editor-in-chief. Teen Vogue has transformed their platform, creating a voice for the culturally and politically aware youth which was seen at the 2017 Teen Vogue Summit.


13. Viola Davis

2017 was the year that this actress received the recognition that she deserved in the form of awards rather than tweets and oohs and aahs during TGIT. Viola Davis was the first black actor to receive the Triple Crown of Acting: a competitive Oscar, Emmy and Tony. Davis is set to star in a heist thriller, entitled “Widows” in 2018.


14. Gabrielle Union

“We’re Going to Need More Wine” is a book of personal essays that expose the raw truths of everything from sexual assault to raising black children. Gabrielle Union penned these honest and moving essays which later turned into a New York Times best-seller. Union exuded strength and power through her words in 2017 and we can only hope for more wisdom from her in the coming years.


15. Tarana Burke  

The #MeToo Movement was established long before 2017 but resurfaced in the wake of sexual assault allegations. Tarana Burke founded the movement in 2006 in efforts to help sexual assault victims and 11 years later it was named TIME’s Person of the Year. This movement is much more than a trending hashtag; it provided a voice to the silenced or unheard and for that we are so grateful.


16. Huda Kattan

A beauty mogul whose beauty hacks filled our Instagram feeds and changed us for the better. Huda Kattan is a Dubai-based Youtuber with a makeup line, “Huda Beauty” that sells out almost instantly with her (extremely loyal) 23.6 million Instagram followers. False lashes, liquid lipsticks, and eyeshadow palettes are just a small portion of what Kattan has planned for the future. She just received a minority investment from a private equity that has previously backed Smashbox and It Cosmetics.


17. Ayesha Curry

This chef and cookbook author put the title of basketball wife on the back burner, making herself a household name. Ayesha Curry’s Food Network television show, “Ayesha’s Home Kitchen” has two seasons and is filmed in her own kitchen. In 2017, Curry was named the first Covergirl spokesperson who is not a singer, actress, or influencer, proving that working moms can do it all.


18. Ibtihaj Muhammad

An Olympic Fencer who struck us with her ability to break down barriers and help diversify our society. Ibtihaj Muhammad is the first American to compete in the Olympic games while wearing a hijab, which inspired the creation of the first hijab-wearing Barbie doll. We can’t wait to shop this #Shero collection for the little ones in 2018.

19. Zendaya

This actress is known for slaying every red carpet she appears on and that did not stop in 2017. Zendaya starred in Spiderman: Homecoming which was released in July and acted/sang in a musical, “The Greatest Showman” alongside Zac Efron. Daya by Zendaya, her size-inclusive and gender-neutral clothing line hit the racks, giving retailers a run for their money. We can’t wait to see what red carpet looks she’ll debut in 2018.


20. Serena Williams

We know what you’re thinking, “every year is her year.’ While that may be true, 2017 was a different match as Serena Williams thrived off the tennis court. Williams earned her 23rd Grand Slam title while she was pregnant in January. She ended the year with the birth of her beautiful baby girl Alexis Olympia and had a fairytale wedding. The grind doesn’t stop, Williams will be returning to the courts just before we ring in the New Year.

Nikole Rodrigues