26 Celebrity Role Models Under the Age of 25
The latest class of Hollywood's youngest stars have proven themselves to be particularly woke. There has been no shortage of inspiring messages or wise-beyond-their-years quotes, and each of them has encouraged their fans to go out and make a change in the world. From Zendaya to Jazz Jennings to Troye Sivan, we've rounded up 26 celebrities under the age of 25 whom we should all look up to, no matter how old we are.
— Additional reporting by Brea Cubit
Oh, Zendaya. How we love thee. The Euphoria actress first emerged as a strong voice on the topic of cultural appropriation after E! host Giuliana Rancic made some controversial comments about the dreadlocks Zendaya wore to the 2015 Oscars. Zendaya responded to Giuliana's words with thoughtful eloquence, and has gone on to unleash more and more inspiring quotes upon the world. From becoming gal pals with feminist icon Beyoncé to professing the importance of self-love, you'd be hard pressed to find a better role model than Zendaya.
Simone Biles, 22
This gymnast has inspired many young athletes to aim high and achieve their dreams. At the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, she won an impressive four gold medals and one bronze during the team, all-around, balance beam, and floor exercise competitions. In 2018, she became the first woman gymnast to win four all-around world championships at the 48th Artistic Gymnastics World Championships. If there's anything we can learn from Simone, it's that hard work and perseverance pay off.
Storm Reid, 16
As an educational ambassador for the nonprofit Children Mending Hearts, Storm is helping to speak out against bullying and encourage kids to channel their creativity into something productive. The Euphoria star also uses her platform to spread positivity through her #Bamazing campaign, and even started her own production company with her mother, Robyn Simpson.
Troye Sivan, 23
Not only has Troye racked up an incredibly impressive social media following (over 20 million combined, FYI), but the popular and openly gay Australian singer has used his platform and music to help raise awareness about LGBTQ issues. He also costarred alongside Lucas Hedges in 2018's Boy Erased, which details the story of a young boy who is forced to go to a conversion therapy program after his parents find out he's gay. In an interview with Pride, Troye opened up about the film and its message of love and acceptance.
Rowan Blanchard, 17
The 17-year-old former star of Disney Channel's Girl Meets World has been making waves pretty much nonstop since coming into the public eye, and for good reason. Rowan wrote a smart and thoughtful essay on her blog about what feminism means to her, as well as gender politics in general. "I have made a very big point at making sure my personal feminism includes everyone, and educating myself and discussing these topics have really helped," she wrote, adding, "Cultural patterns of oppression are not only interrelated, but are bound together and influenced by the intersectional systems of society. Examples of this include race, gender, class, ability, and ethnicity."
Amandla Stenberg, 20
You might know Amandla from her role as the adorable Rue in The Hunger Games, but the actress has recently become much more famous for her strong opinions on racial and gender equality. In April 2015, Amandla's school history project on cultural appropriation, a video titled "Don't Cash Crop My Cornrows," went viral just before she got into a social media tussle with Kylie Jenner over the reality star's choice to wear the aforementioned hairstyle. Because of this, it's no surprise that Amandla has become somewhat of an icon for young women of color who face cultural appropriation and struggle with beauty ideals daily.
Lily-Rose Depp, 19
The daughter of Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis has already landed a few movie roles and a Chanel campaign, but it's her involvement in the Self Evident Truths Project that should really be idolized. The project aims to shatter the notion that sexuality is restricted to only two genders, which Lily-Rose did herself when she came out as sexually fluid.
Yara Shahidi, 19
This Grown-ish star has continued to be an advocate for political awareness and a role model, especially for Generation Z. Not only was she accepted into Harvard University (with a letter of recommendation from Michelle Obama) in 2017, but the following year, she launched the Eighteen x 18 campaign to encourage her peers to register to vote. She's also worked with organizations that help provide healthcare for underserved communities and given speeches about the importance of accurate representation in Hollywood. She's a natural-born leader.
Shawn Mendes, 20
The "Youth" singer is extremely active in championing children's education. In 2015, he launched the #BuildASchoolWithShawn campaign in partnership with the nonprofit Pencils of Promise, raising more than $25,000. Through those donations, the organization was able to build a formal school for children in Shia, Ghana. Shawn even performed at the 2018 Global Citizen Festival to promote quality access to education for kids. That same year, Time magazine also honored him as one of the most influential people of 2018.
Chloë Grace Moretz, 22
If you're in need of advice, Chloë has it in spades. The actress has a surprisingly mature outlook on her love life as a teenager ("It's a tough age to fall in love. People change so quickly. I don't want to have to feel like I have to watch my step."), her thoughts on family ("Never choose your friends over your family or a boyfriend or girlfriend over the family."), and most recently, her feelings on body image. Her thoughts on the latter came to a head when she shared words with Kim Kardashian on Twitter following Kim's decision to post a nude selfie. Chloë wrote, "I truly hope you realize how important setting goals are for young women, teaching them we have so much more to offer than just our bodies."
Marsai Martin, 14
This young Black-ish star is already making history. In April, she became the youngest executive producer of a major Hollywood movie ever with the release of Little. Not only did she serve as EP, she also starred in it, alongside Issa Rae and Regina King. And she's continued to encourage everyone to be confident in themselves and follow their passions, no matter what.
Tavi Gevinson, 22
If you love feminism just as much as you love fashion, Tavi is your girl. The young actress/writer first appeared on Hollywood's radar at the age of 12, when she started a blog called Style Rookie and appeared at runway shows dressed in jaw-dropping looks that caught the attention of the New York Times. Since then, she's started her own online magazine, Rookie, that's dedicated to publishing writing, artwork, and photography that's created with the goal of enhancing the lives of teenagers around the world. She's also amped up her acting career with roles in Scream Queens, Goldbricks in Bloom, and Person to Person.
Kiernan Shipka, 19
With BFFs like Amandla, Tavi, and Rowan, it should come as no surprise that Kiernan scored a spot on this list. The burgeoning style icon got her start playing Sally Draper on Mad Men, and is now busy furthering her career as the star of Netflix's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, gushing over her love of books in Rookie, and penning poignant essays about why loving fashion and feminism is "so necessary."
Bindi Irwin, 20
Bindi is the daughter of the late Steve Irwin, and has been following in his footsteps by becoming a strong activist for animal rights, regularly posting photos of herself interacting with animals, and enjoying the great outdoors on her Instagram. She also won Dancing With the Stars, which is no easy feat, you guys.
Malia Obama, 20
Growing up under the spotlight is hard enough, but doing so while also being the daughter of the president? Talk about pressure. Under the steady guidance of her doting parents, Barack and Michelle, Malia has grown into a beautiful young lady, and managed to not let her status go to her head. Malia wasted no time scoring an internship as a production assistant on a few TV shows, and currently attends Harvard University. It's safe to say we can expect big things from Malia in the next few years!
Sasha Obama, 17
Just like her big sister, Sasha has stayed as poised and down-to-earth as possible while tackling her teenage years with all of America watching. In addition to serving up some seriously stylish fashion moments, the youngest Obama took a job working the takeout window at a popular Martha's Vineyard restaurant. If that doesn't scream "relatable," then we don't know what does.
Maisie Williams, 22
Maisie kicks ass all day, err'day on Game of Thrones, and continues to do so in the real world, especially when it comes to defending feminism. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly in April 2016, the British actress didn't mince words about the topic. "I also feel like we should stop calling feminists 'feminists' and just start calling people who aren't feminist 'sexist' – and then everyone else is just a human," she said. "You are either a normal person or a sexist."
The actress is also an advocate for wildlife, as she's an ambassador for the Dolphin Project — a nonprofit that works to protect welfare of dolphins. In 2017, she even skydived to raise funds for the organization and bring awareness to the mistreatment of the sea creatures. Get it, Maisie.
Willow Smith, 18
Willow might be Hollywood royalty, but don't think for one second that she's bratty or entitled. The "F Q-C #7" singer (which she wrote to represent her "four chakras of self-confidence, voice, survival instinct, and the combination of everything," by the way) continues to express herself in creative, unbelievably artistic ways. Between her gorgeous photographs, poetry, and music, we wouldn't be surprised if Willow grows up to become one of the greatest artists Hollywood has to offer.
Jazz Jennings, 18
Jazz, born a boy, has lived as a girl since she was 5 years old, and has dedicated her young life to educating others about the transgender experience ever since. She counts Oprah and Barbara Walters as friends, recently starred in a series of Clean & Clear commercials that urged viewers to "see the real me," and has a reality series about her life, I Am Jazz, which was recently renewed for a sixth season. She spoke to ABC News in October, telling them, "From the time I was six years old, I've been sharing my story. And you know at first I thought, 'Okay, this is all going to come to an end one day and then I'll be able to live my life.' But more and more I realized that I was given this platform for a reason and that I have a strong and powerful voice."
Lili Reinhart, 22
One star who is unafraid to speak candidly about mental health is Lili Reinhart. The Riverdale actress has previously opened up about her struggles with anxiety, depression, and body dysmorphia. She even delivered an empowering speech at Glamour's 2018 Women of the Year Summit, where she declared, "You can be naturally beautiful with acne or scars, cellulite or curves. So let's celebrate each other, and ourselves, as we are, as we will be, and as we were meant to be."
Millie Bobby Brown, 15
This Stranger Things star is already a powerhouse at the age of 15. In 2018, she was the youngest honoree on TIME magazine's 100 Most Influential People. She also became UNICEF's youngest-ever Goodwill Ambassador, encouraging world leaders to invest more in the education of children. Millie also uses to platform to speak against bullying and gun violence.
The contemporary R&B singer has remained outspoken about putting an end to bullying after sharing that he was bullied in school. In 2018, he partnered with Hollister and the app Sit With Us — which was designed to connect students who sit alone at lunch time with potential friends — to bring awareness to the issue. He also surprised a group of high school students at John Burroughs High School in Burbank, CA, with a performance and encouraged them to spread love.
Elle Fanning, 21
There's no question that Elle is one of the most fashionable actresses out there right now, which means there's no chance she'll ever sacrifice her style for a relationship. "Well, I want a boy to like my weird style. If he doesn't, then he's not the right person for me," she said to Teen Vogue. "Because if you start dressing one way and it's not truly you, then you have to stick to it."
Keke Palmer, 23
Keke stole everyone's hearts when she played the precocious Akeelah in 2006's Akeelah and the Bee, and she's grown into a wise young woman who fully embraces her flaws. "Love yourself. Nobody's perfect. I mean, come on, nobody is perfect," the Scream Queens actress told Seventeen. "Not you, not your mom, even the people on TV — nobody is perfect, and there's always something that nobody likes, but you know, you just accept that. Your imperfections make you beautiful. It's those things you find you don't like that someone else finds very special and very unique about you. You just accept it and own it; even if it's not one of your favorite parts, you just own it because that's who you are."
Maude Apatow, 21
Need a fresh comedy icon to obsess over? Look no further than Maude. As the daughter of Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann, humor clearly runs in her genes, and the new actress has slowly but surely been displaying her funny bone with roles in This Is 40 and Girls. When she isn't making people laugh, the 21-year-old has been living it up as a normal high schooler, hitting up prom, going to concerts, and enchanting her Twitter followers.
Ariel Winter, 21
This Modern Family actress has endured plenty of body shaming on social media, but that hasn't stopped her from living her life with extreme (and enviable) confidence. After Ariel opened up about her choice to get breast reduction surgery and then flaunted her scars on the red carpet at the 2016 SAG Awards in a low-cut dress, she inspired countless girls to not be afraid to show off their bodies and various flaws.