Best of 2022: The Entertainers of the Year

Best of 2022: The Entertainers of the Year

A celebration of our favorite actors, actresses, musicians and personalities of 2022.

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As we say farewell to 2022, it’s time to look back at the artists who gave us some of the best moments of the year. From Beyoncé and Lizzo getting us on the dance floor, to Jordan Peele once again making us wonder what the hell we just watched, to Sheryl Lee Ralph and Angela Bassett being honored like the queens they are, 2022 was full of Black excellence. So join us in some well-deserved, hard-earned snaps for our Entertainers of the Year.

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15: Trevor Noah

15: Trevor Noah

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If all Trevor Noah did was salute Black women on his final episode of The Daily Show that would be enough. However, he also returned to voice Shuri’s A.I. Griot in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, hosted the Grammys again and embarked on another successful comedy tour. I’m so excited to see what he does next.

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14: Jon Batiste

14: Jon Batiste

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Jon Batiste started the year by winning five Grammys, including Album of the Year. He followed that up with the big decision to leave The Late Show with Stephen Colbert so he could focus on his successful tour, which featured a stop at Carnegie Hall.

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13: Michael R. Jackson

13: Michael R. Jackson

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To return to its former glory, Broadway would need something special to galvanize audiences. Michael R. Jackson delivered that with his brilliant, meta, Tony-winning musical, A Strange Loop. This is one of those moments where we’re watching a star come into their own.

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12: Kendrick Lamar

12: Kendrick Lamar

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The rap superstar returned to the top spot with the ambitious, controversial Mr. Moral & the Big Steppers. He spent the summer dominating the festival circuit and embarked on a world tour. Then he closed things out with eight Grammy nominations.

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11: Jordan Peele

11: Jordan Peele

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He got us again. Jordan Peele reeled us in with another thought-provoking, unique story that left us completely baffled by what we just saw. And as if that wasn’t enough, he carried his universe into theme parks with his overall deal at Universal. He’s setting a game-changing standard for Black directors.

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10: Megan Thee Stallion

10: Megan Thee Stallion

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Megan Thee Stallion may have spent 2022 defending herself from haters and bullies, but she also had time to host SNL and release the personal, critically acclaimed album Traumazine. And did I mention she joined the MCU by teaching She-Hulk to twerk?

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9: Sheryl Lee Ralph

9: Sheryl Lee Ralph

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If you look up the word “entertainer” in the dictionary, there’s probably a picture of Sheryl Lee Ralph. There’s no genre she hasn’t conquered and made her own but she’s found something special in her Emmy-winning performance on Abbott Elementary. We’re positive we’ll be back here next year to salute the actress for another legendary moment.

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8: Quinta Brunson

8: Quinta Brunson

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When you create, write and star in the best comedy on television, you’re definitely one of the best entertainers of the year. When you back it up with an even funnier and more successful Season 2, you’re Quinta Brunson, who is achieving all this while being the first Black woman to conquer many of TV history’s biggest milestones.

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7: Viola Davis

7: Viola Davis

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Only Viola Davis could play Michelle Obama and General Nanisca of the Agojie warriors in the same year. In addition to her always amazing performances, the Oscar-winner also produced The Woman King, fighting through an endless battery of rejection to get the film made.

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6: Tabitha Brown

6: Tabitha Brown

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In 2022, social media personality/food guru Tabitha Brown launched an Emmy-nominated children’s series, a lifestyle line at Target, a Food Network competition show, a specialized seasoning and a cookbook. I hope she plans to spend a big chunk of 2023 sleeping.

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5: Angela Bassett

5: Angela Bassett

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We knew Angela Bassett was going to bring something special to Queen Ramonda grieving the loss of her son T’Challa, but we still weren’t prepared for the masterclass the Oscar nominee delivered. And just to remind us how truly spectacular her range is, she continued to take us on the most fascinating emotional journeys every week as 9-1-1’s Athena.

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4: Ryan Coogler

4: Ryan Coogler

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Under normal circumstances, following up a $1 billion, critically-acclaimed movie is considered a difficult task. However, losing the franchise’s leading man to cancer, rewriting the story, shooting the film and helping the cast and crew through grief is impossible. Ryan Coogler honored the characters, fans and his friend in the most beautiful way possible, once again proving that Wakanda is more than a fictional place, it’s a cultural touchstone.

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3: Lizzo

3: Lizzo

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When she wasn’t getting “About Damn Time” eternally stuck in our heads, Lizzo used her fame to champion body positivity, other women of color and remind haters “Bitch, I’m winning!”

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2: Keke Palmer

2: Keke Palmer

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Nope, Password, her new digital network Key TV, hosting SNL and having a baby are just a few of the million things Keke Palmer had going on in 2022. She is battling Samuel L. Jackson for the title of “Hollywood’s busiest actor.”

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1: Beyoncé

1: Beyoncé

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In this crazy mixed-up world, the only thing we can all agree on is that Beyoncé truly runs the world. The superstar hinted that she was working on something and the whole world went bananas trying to break the code. When she finally dropped Renaissance, the world stopped as we all came together to decide which song we most closely identified with.

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