Head Of The Class: 6 Young Black Stars Who Were Leading Ladies Before 21
Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

You can’t dismiss the power of seeing a young Black woman on TV—whether she’s the glue that holds her family together or using her supernatural powers to help friends see into the future. “Sixteen-year-old Black girls who were considered stars by the networks were virtually nonexistent,” says Moesha co-creator Ralph Farquhar of the period when he conceptualized the now-iconic series.

After TV executives met with “fearless” lead Brandy Norwood, who was 16 and already blowing everyone away on the music charts, “it was a no-brainer,” he recalls. Actresses who have followed in Norwood’s footsteps all share an understanding—it’s no easy feat carrying a show when you’re still learning the depths of your talent.

Raven-Symoné was 3-years-old when she stepped into the limelight, while Keke Palmer and Kyla Pratt were both teens. Still, these actresses influenced young Black women to be exactly who they are when the cameras aren’t rolling. As each actress’s star continues to rise, there’s much to be said about the impact they made at such an early age. It’s no wonder they’re all still killing it on platforms big and small.

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