More slay. Less fetch.
Post-Millennials, Zoomers, iPad babies, the TikTok generation with short attention spans who always have something to say… Meet Generation Z, born in 1997 or later. They’re marked as being the most iconoclastic, inclusive, politically motivated, fashion-forward, and open-minded generation ever. As a group of “Gen Zers” cements its position as young icons, Savoir Flair is here to break down the most inspiring “It” girls who are leading the charge when it comes to political activism, creative talent, and stylish know-how.
Back when TikTok was just an “app for dancing teens”, Addison Rae emerged as one of its most prominent profiles. Fast forward several years and she is still one of the most followed personalities on TikTok, but she’s also an actor with a Netflix show under her belt, a musician with a hit single, and a partner for brands like Hanes, American Eagle, and Sephora.
Let’s take a moment to talk about Adut Akech, the South Sudanese-Australian model that has been taking the runway by storm across all the fashion capitals. After making her big runway debut with an exclusive with Saint Laurent for the brand’s Spring/Summer 2017 show, Akech has become one of the fashion industry’s faces to watch.
Akech, who moved with her family to Australia as a refugee at the age of six, signed her first modeling contract at 16 with Chadwick Models in Sydney, Australia. After working in local fashion houses and at Melbourne Fashion Week, Akech got her big break when she was scouted by Saint Laurent. Akech has since walked for major luxury brands, evolving as a recognizable face on the catwalks.
In 2018, Time recognized Akech as one of the ’25 Most Influential Teens of 2018,’ and in December 2019, she was awarded the ‘Model of the Year award at the British Fashion Awards in London. Apart from being a full-time model, Akech also works with the United Nations to promote global refugee welfare.
Los Angeles native Amandla Stenberg is recognized for her appearance in The Hunger Games, but she is most well-known for her political and social activism. While the 24-year-old has lead roles in films like the World War II drama Where Hands Touch and drama The Hate U Give – for which she won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture – Stenberg has also been called “one of the most incendiary voices of her generation”. In fact, she once publicly called out Kendall Jenner for cultural appropriation.
Born to Lisa Rinna and actor Harry Hamlin, Amelia Gray grew up in front of the camera on the Bravo franchise Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and later grew in recognition due to her romantic link to Scott Disick. However, in the past year, Amelia has found her voice as a model and muse via social media, where we saw her bleach her eyebrows blonde for a Balenciaga runway show and share behind-the-scenes looks at fashion week. She’s become one to watch thanks to her fashion presence and wise-beyond-her-years personality.
From more than holding her own opposite forces like Sophie Turner and Kit Harington in Game of Thrones (playing Lyanna Mormont) and commanding the screen as the quirky and relatable Birdie in Lena Dunham’s adaptation of Catherine Called Birdie to winning hearts alongside “Daddy” Pedro Pascal in HBO’s The Last of Us, Bella Ramsey continues to go from strength to strength. The precocious star is only 19 years old but is already stealing every scene she’s in.
Pop artist Billie Eilish is arguably one of the most popular Gen Zers. By the age of 19, her album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? has been streamed billions of times and she has won multiple Grammys – five at the 2020 Grammy Awards alone. She wrote the new James Bond theme song, No Time to Die, which won her an Oscar for Best Original Song, placing her halfway to achieving the prestigious EGOT. Her quirky goth-meets-rave sensibilities have also transformed her into a style icon. Clearly, this is Billie’s world and we’re just living in it.
Palestinian-Chilean singer Elyanna, known for her hit singles ‘Ana Lahale’ and ‘Ala Bali,’ has taken the music world by storm and landed a coveted spot on the Coachella stage in 2023 where she made history by performing her entire set in Arabic. With millions of listens on Spotify, a global fanbase, and scorching vocal talent, Elyanna is not only representing Palestine on the world stage, but she is also proudly outspoken about Arab representation in the music industry.
The New York Times dubbed Emma Chamberlain “the funniest person on YouTube”, and for good reason. Having filmed herself in hilarious and confessional vlogs for years, Chamberlain soon grew to have one of the most-watched channels on YouTube. The editing style she pioneered has been so often imitated as to become the new standard.
Beyond her funny-girl persona, Chamberlain has also emerged as a style icon, and is often spotted front row at Paris Fashion Week or working in campaigns for brands like Louis Vuitton. At only 21, Chamberlain’s star is rising faster by the day
The planet is in crisis. Every day there are fires, floods, and other life-threatening catastrophes that are happening as a direct result of climate change, and one of the most prominent figures fighting for this cause is a 20-year-old Swedish girl named Greta Thunberg. Politicians fear her, young people follow her by the hundreds of thousands. With a direct speaking style that minces no words and spares no emotions, Thunberg is behind the biggest global movement to protest political inaction on vital climate-change issues, prompting ongoing student strikes that millions of young people have participated in.
She has addressed the United Nations on multiple occasions, and went viral when she confronted world leaders in a speech, saying, “This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet, you all come to us young people for hope? How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”
At just 23, Halle Bailey has already proved that she is an absolute star deserving of every bit of our attention. Rising to stardom, courtesy of her singing, Halle, along with her sister Chloe was signed by Parkwood Entertainment in 2015. Now, starring in the titular role in the live adaptation of The Little Mermaid, Bailey has been making headlines on the regular.
While she is best known for her artistic talents, Bailey is also passionate about various social and political initiatives, using her platform to raise awareness and advocate for change. She has been vocal about racial justice and equality. In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests that swept the US in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd, she used her social media to amplify the voices of the movement, sharing information and resources with her followers and speaking out against police brutality and systemic racism.
India Ria Amarteifio
21-year old actor India Ria Amarteifio hit it big in 2023 playing the titular character in Netflix’s Bridgerton spinoff series Queen Charlotte. The England-born star first made her acting debut in London’s West End production of The Lion King in 2011, and since then she has gone on to act in multiple theatre productions. Her television break came in 2013, but it wasn’t until this year that the public recognized her acting chops in Queen Charlotte where she played a young version of the queen on the verge of her marriage to King Charles with pathos, grace, and regality.
Jenna Ortega solidified her “It” girl status following her portrayal of Wednesday Adams, in the hit Netflix series Wednesday. In a way, Jenna Ortega has become synonymous with dark and twisted roles after her appearance in Wednesday, X, and Scream VI. The 20-year-old actress, however, has been facing the camera from a very young age with a string of impressive performances in film and television, including her breakout role as Young Jane in the hit show Jane the Virgin. Ortega also appeared in popular shows such as You and Stuck in the Middle before landing her critically acclaimed role as Wednesday Adams. Beyond her impressive acting career, Ortega is also a passionate advocate for social causes like immigration and refugee rights, racism, and mental health awareness, using her platform to raise awareness and encourage others to take action.
With a famous last name, Lily-Rose Depp was all but guaranteed the spotlight once she launched her career. She started out in 2014 with a minor role in Kevin Smith’s horror comedy Tusk before pursuing modeling (like her mother Vanessa Paradis) for French luxury house Chanel. She picked up more acting roles, notably playing across from Timothée Chalamet in The King, before landing her big break in this year’s controversial Max series The Idol.
Millie Bobby Brown
Instant cult hit Stranger Things lent the world a singular obsession with the show’s main character Eleven, played by Millie Bobby Brown. We can’t get enough of this inspiring young star, who is both preternaturally self-assured and unapologetically brainy. Since her debut on Stranger Things, she has been hard at work on the show, the fourth season of which is about to drop, but that hasn’t stopped her from launching a beauty brand called Florence by Mills.
Singer-songwriter and actress, Olivia Rodrigo, achieved the impossible with her debut album Sour: uniting Millennials and Gen Z. She mastered the art of writing music for all teens, not just Gen Z teens, and we love her for it. Her debut single ‘Driver’s License’ broke records and became one of the best-selling songs of the year in 2021, in part due to enormous virality from TikTok, in true Gen Z form. She just won three Grammy awards for her debut album, and broke records winning seven Billboard Music Awards, just 16 months after releasing her first single.
Although she played the starring character in Disney’s Girl Meets World for several years, actress Rowan Blanchard was dealt a blow when she found out the show had been canceled. However, the future is bright for Blanchard, who starred in Madeleine L’Engle’s famed young-adult novel A Wrinkle in Time in 2018. She is now starring in the TV adaptation of Bong Joon-Ho’s Snowpiercer.
Blanchard’s adorable face belies her sharp mind and powerful convictions. In 2015, she became a hero to young girls everywhere when she penned an essay on Tumblr about intersectional feminism. She repeated the message onstage to a crowd of 20,000 people at youth empowerment summit, WE Day. Needless to say, we’re huge fans of her outspoken concern for social justice.
Yara Shahidi is only 23 years old, but she has already landed a leading role on Grown-ish, a spin-off of the popular sitcom Black-ish. She has been a recipient of the Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network (WEEN) award and the NAACP Image Award and, no big deal or anything, but Michelle Obama personally wrote her Harvard University recommendation letter. She is also a passionate social activist. Shahidi is half-Iranian and half-black, which makes media diversity a big issue for her. She is an outspoken advocate for people of color, as well as a STEM activist, and Dior Beauty‘s Global Brand Ambassador.
Zendaya Coleman, who fabulously goes by the single moniker “Zendaya”, is one of the most exciting talents to emerge from Gen Z. Not only has she starred in major blockbuster films like the Spiderman franchise and the reboot of Dune but she’s also the lead in HBO’s dramatic series Euphoria.
The young star happens to be one of our favorite style icons. Her 2015 Oscars look was so good that she inspired a new Barbie doll, and we’ll never forget when she showed up to the Met Gala dressed like Cinderella in a light-up dress. She consistently shows out on the red carpet, and was even crowned the Fashion Icon of the Year by CFDA in 2021. In 2023, Zendaya was named the new house ambassador for Louis Vuitton.