14 Badass Black People in Media You Should Know

14 Badass Black People in Media You Should Know

Along with our Root 100 honorees, these African Americans are changing the media landscape one step at a time.

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Photo: Jamie McCarthy / Contributor (Getty Images), Courtesy of Duchesne Drew, Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

The Root is highlighting influential Black people across industries through The Root 100 as well as a few others who are truly changing the game and making an impact in their field!

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Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah

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Photo: NBC / Contributor (Getty Images)

Trevor Noah is #7 out of 100 on The Root 100's 2022 list. From calling out Kanye, to addressing the racists abusing Twitter under Elon Musk’s watch, Trevor Noah knew how to be the topic of conversation in 2022. Not only did the South African comedian host the 64th Grammy Awards and the White House Correspondents Dinner, he also wrapped a 7-year run of The Daily Show (he had succeeded long-time host Jon Stewart).

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Keke Palmer

Keke Palmer

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Photo: Momodu Mansaray / Stringer (Getty Images)

Keke Palmer is #22 on The Root 100's 2022 list. She reminded us how brightly she shines on the big screen with her outstanding performance in Jordan Peele’s box office juggernaut, Nope, one of the very few films of 2022 to gross more than $100 million during these pandemic times. Palmer continued to dominate the year by joining season 3 of Legendary as a judge and gracing the Time 100 list. In true modern diva fashion, she surprised us all when she announced the launch of her own digital network, KeyTV.

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Duchesne Drew

Duchesne Drew

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Photo: Courtesy of Duchesne Drew

A brilliant media leader who spent years rising and winning in Minnesota’s media and journalism world, Duchesne Drew obviously made The Root 100's 2022 list. Drew is the current president of Minnesota Public Radio, and does double duty as the Senior Vice President of the American Public Media Group, which produces national shows like Marketplace and The Current. He’s used these platforms to focus attention on the issues we should never forget, especially throughout the turbulence of 2020 after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the subsequent protests and the trials of the officers involved.

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Gayle King

Gayle King

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Photo: CBS Photo Archive / Contributor (Getty Images)

Gayle King is #30 on The Root 100's 2022 list. In January of this year, King signed a new multi-year deal with CBS to remain on as anchor of CBS Mornings. “I still feel that in many ways I’m just getting started,” said King on her radio show after the news was announced. King has gone toe to toe with combative subjects like disgraced R&B artist R. Kelly. And she’s taken us inside harrowing personal experiences like the night Megan Thee Stallion was shot. This champion of the interview arena undoubtedly earns her spot on The Root 100 list.

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Rashida Jones

Rashida Jones

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Photo: KENA BETANCUR / Contributor (Getty Images)

Rashida Jones is #33 on The Root 100's 2022 list. Though it may seem incredulous that Black folks are still achieving “firsts” in the 21st century, that doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t still give flowers when and where they’re due. That’s exactly why Rashida Jones, president of MSNBC and the first Black woman to lead a major cable news network, deserves to get her recognition now and not later.

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Maria Douglas Reeve

Maria Douglas Reeve

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Photo: Screenshot from Houston Chronicle.com (Other)

Maria Douglas Reeve was/is part of a tight-knit Black media pack that originated in the Twin Cities, but recently the media leader moved to Houston. In 2021, the veteran journalist and South Carolina native was named the Executive Editor of the Houston Chronicle. She became the first person of color to become the Editor at the publication. According to Hearst, the Houston Chronicle, founded in 1901, is one of the largest newspapers in the United States, making Reeve’s position an amazing step forward for Black journalists in media. Keep it up Maria Reeve, we got your back.

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Benoni Tagoe

Benoni Tagoe

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Photo: Randy Shropshire / Stringer (Getty Images)

Benoni Tagoe is #36 on The Root 100's 2022 list. This serial impresario is not only collaborating with one of the most talented women in Hollywood (psst, it’s Issa), but he is also President of their partnership, Raedio. Together they are building truly next-generation thought leadership in how to amplify more voices of color.

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Coodie Simmons

Coodie Simmons

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Photo: Phillip Faraone / Stringer (Getty Images)

Coodie Simmons is #46 on The Root 100's 2022 list. Filmmaker, director, screenwriter, and cinematographer Coodie Simmons, one half of the creative duo Coodie and Chike, has been bringing his creative talents to the music and entertainment industry for over a decade. Those projects include their critically acclaimed ESPN 30 for 30 film Benji, the short film Good Morning, and most recently jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy, Act 1 for Netflix earlier this February.

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Kevin Merida

Kevin Merida

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Photo: David Livingston / Contributor (Getty Images)

Kevin Merida is considered one of the best writers in the business. Just go back and read an article he wrote on the late Strom Thurmond for the Washington Post. A brilliant journalist with an also-brilliant journalist wife (Donna Britt) and a celebrity son ( Darrell Britt-Gibson), this former Washington Post editor/writer was named the executive editor of the Los Angeles Times, one of the largest news organizations in the Western U.S. in June 2021. Kevin Merida’s impressive resumé includes being the vice president of ESPN and editor-in-chief of Undefeated.

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Lindsay Peoples Wagner

Lindsay Peoples Wagner

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Photo: Stefanie Keenan / Contributor (Getty Images)

Lindsay Peoples Wagner is #52 on The Root 100's 2022 list. Wagner is the Editor-in-Chief at The Cut. Wagner continued to stunt on the competition in 2022 by not only marking the 10th anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s death with a seminal cover package of stories that pulled no punches, but also by utilizing the platform to offer a state-by-state guide to abortion services just as Roe v. Wade was on the cusp of being overturned. The headline was—and forever will be—legendary: “This Magazine Can Help You Get an Abortion.”

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Soledad O’Brien

Soledad O’Brien

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Photo: Slaven Vlasic / Contributor (Getty Images)

Soledad O’Brien is #61 on The Root 100's 2022 list. Her most recent documentary with Peacock, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks, takes viewers into the real story of activist Rosa Parks. Spoiler: she wasn’t just a woman who was too tired to give up her seat on the bus. For all of her contributions to media (she was a former CNN anchor), we celebrate O’Brien, who’s just getting started.

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Robert Samuels

Robert Samuels

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Photo: Dia Dipasupil / Staff (Getty Images)

Robert Samuels is a national political enterprise reporter for The Washington Post. He is also the co-writer of the 2022 biography, “His Name is George Floyd: One Man’s Life and the Struggle for Racial Justice.” The book is based on more than 400 interviews Samuels did to paint a portrait of George Floyd’s life and death.

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Chike Ozah

Chike Ozah

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Chike Ozah is #62 on The Root 100's 2022 list. Chike Ozah worked alongside Coodie Simmons to create jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy. Kanye had no hand in producing the film, but of course he tried it—even demanding that he be allowed into the editing room. We can only imagine what Ozah had to go through to make sure he and partner Coodie were able to stay true to their vision. For that reason and so much more, Ozah deserves his spot on The Root 100 list.

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Jelani Cobb

Jelani Cobb

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Jelani Cobb is #81 on The Root 100's 2022 list. In May of 2022, Lee C. Bollinger, the president of Columbia University wrote, “It is with great pleasure that I write to announce my appointment of Jelani Cobb as the next Dean of Columbia Journalism School, as of August 1, 2022.” The pride we all felt to have a Black man take over the premiere Journalism school is hard to even explain. You got a lot of work ahead of you Jelani, but we are with you every step of the way.

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