We’ve selected 30 of the world’s most influential and youngest viral voices—from journalists, bloggers and Vine makers to YouTube superstars, social activists and budding brand owners. Meet the minds who are defining a social generation. If you don’t already know who they are, you’re missing out.
These millennials are penning must-read pieces spreading through the Internet like wildfire.
Why she’s viral: Nigatu is fast becoming one of BuzzFeed’s most dependable young voices for hilarious social media commentary as well as thought-provoking journalism. She’s always click-worthy, whether it’s “39 Pieces of Advice for Journalists and Writers of Color” or “29 Tumblr Posts About White People That Will Make You Sip Your Tea.”
Why he’s viral: ESPN’s Grantland takes a deeper look at sports and pop culture, but Browne may be the site’s star player. When his Twitter time line isn’t cracking us up, he’s busy crafting literary gems like his annual closing bracket of who won the year and openly proclaiming the glory of the Knowles-Carter dynasty.
Why she’s viral: As a digital-media strategist, Cooper isn’t just a move-making millennial. Her self-titled website is dedicated to telling the motivating stories of others just like her, as well as breaking news and stories geared toward helping millennials be their best in the workplace and beyond.
Why she’s viral: The force behind much of Billboard’s hip-hop coverage, Ramirez is a dependable go-to for every bit of breaking music news. But she’s far from just a reporter—her weekly podcast, The Juice, gets you one step closer to your favorites, as the biggest stars in the game stop by to get personal.
Why he’s viral: Bouie’s work for Slate is bar none some of the most powerful and poignant writing on the Web. Covering race and politics with a sharp, critical eye keeps Bouie at the forefront of evolving conversations about the black American experience.
Why she’s viral: She’s written strong commentary for Dazed and Confused, The Voice, The Guardian and many more. But her fiercest, most poignant words may arguably be found on her own blog—specifically, the bold “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race.”
Why she’s viral: She describes herself as “just an awkward black girl with a blog,” but one click into her site Ethiopienne will show that she’s a woman on the rise. Her writing speaks to women of color as she pens essays on surviving post-grad life and black femininity.
Why he’s viral: We’ve been lucky to have Randle write a few pieces for The Root, but that’s just a sampling of his insightful commentary on music and pop culture as he also pens dopeness for Ebony and Medium on the regular. Whether he’s speaking about the Michael Sam effect on the NFL or defending Nicki Minaj and her body, he’s becoming a voice that’s hard to ignore.
Why he’s viral: As editor of BuzzFeed’s LGBT vertical, Jones is responsible for a growing portion of the gay narrative being written online, and the Internet is a much better place for it. His voice will have even more impact with his upcoming debut novel Prelude to Bruise, which will explore the collision of race, sexuality and identity.
Why she’s viral: When Francis isn’t delivering facts on CNN or HuffPost Live, she’s busy writing pieces for Ebony, Esquire, xoJane and plenty more. She smartly analyzes both race and culture—whether whether it’s digging through Nick Cannon’s style closet or handling controversial subjects like white privilege.
Jessica C. Andrews
Why she’s viral: A style-loving fashion journalist, Andrews’ work has been featured everywhere from Elle to Essence to the New York Times. But it’s on her own Glamazons blog where she documents her daily dress, offering everything from fashion and beauty recommendations to exclusive giveaways and health and fitness guidance.
Why he’s viral: Mic is a site fueled by millennials at every level, and staff writer Cheney-Rice brings a young lens to the world’s biggest stories on a daily basis. His viral pieces call out everything from racial injustice and world politics to culture news and post-grad life.
Why she’s viral: Wanjuki couldn’t stay silent about her struggles as a victim of sexual violence—rather, she used the Internet to amplify her voice, causing media outlets to pay attention to her story. She’s just as bold and fearless behind a keyboard as an avid feminist writer.
These influencers can’t stay in one lane. From podcasts and YouTube videos to original series and beyond, we love them on any platform.
Why he’s viral: Never let the laughs fool you—Kingsley is a brand. As he tops 2.9 million YouTube subscribers and closes in on 1 million Twitter followers, Kingsley is building a massive audience while his fans are treated to constant foolery as the video star shares his thoughts on everything in pop culture.
Robby Novak (Kid President)
Why he’s viral: This preteen phenom is more than just a video sensation, as Robby works with the folks at SoulPancake to inspire, challenge and change the world. But that’s not to say Robby’s success doesn’t come with his own perks—he’s even snagged an interview (and a kiss!) with Beyoncé.
Why she’s viral: Her YouTube channel is full of hilarious and quirky insights about young adulthood, whether it’s offering natural-hair advice, jamming on a ukulele or helping you survive your first black girlfriend. In addition, she’s also written work for Hello Giggles and Refinery29.
Why he’s viral: While we can’t promise all of Mero’s tweets are SFW, we’re too busy laughing at his entire time line to worry. His brash, outlandish personality shines best on Complex’s TV series Desus vs. Mero, where he’s one half of a hilarious duo ripping jokes on every single person in pop culture.
Why he’s viral: YouTube star Kid Fury’s podcast The Read singlehandedly made podcasts cool again, as he and co-host Crissle read celebrities to filth, honor black excellence and champion important social causes all in the same breath. You can hear the two online or see them live, as the duo take their show on tour all over the country.
Why she’s viral: Dye’s time line keeps us cackling every day, but you wouldn’t know from her tweets that a tragic subway accident actually helped fuel her comedic aspirations. Her hilarious outlook on life is what kept her going, and she does the same for her fans and followers.
Why he’s viral: A self-proclaimed geek, Brownlee’s knowledge and coverage of all things tech on his YouTube channel—which boasts more than 1.5 million subscribers—make him a total pro. His videos have raked in more than 130 million views as he drops knowledge on all the latest consumer gadgets.
Why he’s viral: Look no further than his TEDx performance of High School Training Ground as proof that London is a poet with a voice far beyond his years. He’s a Chicago phenom on the rise as his perfectly placed words bring attention to the harsh realities of urban life.
Why he’s viral: If winning the Internet is all about being honest and yourself, then Dustin Ross just might be the King of Real. His YouTube channel and advice series Liquor & Cereal deliver unflinching opinion and guidance, and if you can’t get enough, Ross’ Twitter time line keeps his followers engaged daily.
They aren’t just Twitter personalities or Vine stars, they’re hard at work starting crucial movements and creating our next must-see projects.
Andrew “King Bach” Bachelor
Why he’s viral: While you’re in tears over King Bach’s latest videos on sites like Vine, Instagram and YouTube, you may not realize just how much hard work goes into even a 6-second video. But his millions of followers praise him as a star, director and writer, as his Vines alone have been played more than 821 million times.
Phillip B. Agnew
Why he’s viral: A social activist at heart, Agnew is the executive director of Dream Defenders, the social justice organization that helps young people take action and work to make change in the world around them. The founding of the Defenders helped bring national attention to the injustice of Trayvon Martin’s death, and the organization continues to “fight racism and discrimination with love and peace.”
Why he’s viral: Famuyide doesn’t just write on the Web—he runs his own corner of it. As the editor-in-chief of his own award-winning site Stashed, he’s giving you the hottest new songs and videos, while chasing down big names on the rise for exclusive scoops.
Why he’s viral: D’Leau could have stopped at creating his own entertainment site The XD Experience, but that was just the beginning. His weekly 2 Guys and a Girl comedy podcast is speeding up the iTunes charts, while he’s also executive producer of the award-winning online dramedy Quarter Century.
Why he’s viral: He’s the founder of SB.TV, a video platform that grew from his own handycam rap videos into a U.K. media empire. The channel features the latest and greatest in urban music across the pond as well as original series and interviews, netting millions of views and fans.
Why she’s viral: Not only does Ajayii school the masses on branding and social media marketing, she’s one of the minds behind the Red Pump Project, a nonprofit that spreads awareness of the HIV and AIDS epidemic, specifically targeting how the disease impacts women. Meanwhile, her humor blog Awesomely Luvvie keeps us in constant fits of laughter.
Why he’s viral: He’s the founder of the Million Hoodies movement, which, in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s killing, seeks to bring awareness to the ills of racial profiling and gun violence against people of color.
Why she’s viral: Director, writer and producer Issa Rae is absolute proof that all you need to accomplish your goals is a webcam and a dream. Her groundbreaking web comedy series The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl drew everyone’s attention as her roster of shows collected over 20 million views, and she’s now writing and starring in the upcoming HBO comedy series Non-Prophet.
Editor’s note: This article is part of The Root’s Young, Black, and Viral Weekend. Read more about it here.
Terron Moore is social media editor at The Root.
Terron Moore is social media editor at The Root.