Keeping It 100: Essence Announces Its 3rd Annual 'Woke 100'

Image: J.D. Barnes (Essence Communications)

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the wokest of them all? We kid, we kid—no one wants to play the Woke Olympics. But just like us, Essence has some ideas about who the most influential, inspiring folks of 2019 are—femme folks, in this instance—with its third annual Woke 100 List.

Framed as a “salute to women of color challenging the status quo,” the list, published in Essence’s November “Woke” issue, features “100 women who exemplify the true meaning of being change agents and power players and are inspiring communities around the world,” according to a release. And we’re happy to see several of our faves—and 2019 Root 100 honorees—on the list, including:

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Simone Biles; Gayle King; Lizzo; Niecy Nash; Bethann Hardison; Beverly Bond; Aunjanue Ellis; Jada Pinkett Smith/Willow Smith/Adrienne Norris; Ava DuVernay; dream hampton; Mayor Lori Lightfoot; Congresswomen Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Jahana Hayes and Rashida Talib; Nikole Hannah-Jones, Bassey Ipki and many more.

The entire list is available on Essence’s website, as are “stories reflecting activism, political reform, human rights and social justice” and interviews with the newly freed Cyntoia Brown and Alice Marie Johnson. On the cover? Queen & Slim star Jodie Turner-Smith, the British-Jamaican actress making her big-screen breakthrough in the highly anticipated film confronting the relationship between blacks and police, written by Lena Waithe and directed by Melina Matsoukas. (Note: The trio of women aren’t on this year’s Woke 100 list; their wokeness speaks for itself.)

“I fell maddeningly in love with the script,” says Turner-Smith in the issue. “All these powerful women are doing this project, and I was like, How do I get invited?”

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Indeed, how does one get invited to such a celebration of wokeness? And what have we done to deserve this amalgamation of black girl magic?

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“Essence’s November issue demonstrates our commitment to showcasing the incredible strides that Black women are making globally,” says MoAna Luu, Essence Chief Content & Creative Officer. “Each year, Essence’s Woke 100 list highlights the movers and shakers who are taking a stand and making a difference where they are. Whether on the national stage, the boardroom, political arena or the classroom, we applaud their continuous efforts to not only inspire others but also to affect change.”

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About the author

Maiysha Kai

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. Minneapolis born, Chicago bred, New York built. Nuance is her superpower.