amandla stenberg, barbie ferreira, and jaden smith are among the most influential teens of 2016

Warning: This list may make you feel like a bit of an underachiever.

by Wendy Syfret
20 October 2016, 12:57pm


has released its annual list of the world's most influential teenagers, and it's at once inspiring and a little unnerving. How some people can cram so much into less than two decades amazes us. The list features a lot of familiar names, and celebrates activism, science, sports, and the arts.

i-D favorites Maddie ZieglerAmandla StenbergJaden Smith, and Barbie Ferreira all drew praise for using their platforms to talk about issues such as race, gender, and body positivity. Gaten Matarazzo, who played Dustin on Stranger Things, was the only inclusion from the hit show. He made the cut because of how he's embraced his lisp and cleidocranial dysplasia to become an advocate for self acceptance.

The roundup is also full of amazing kids who aren't household names: including Kiara Nirghin, a South African science enthusiast who has developed an eco friendly way to help soil retain water during droughts; and Sumail Hassan, who is the first person to earn $1 million playing video games. While Katie Ledecky, Simone Biles, and Yusra Mardini were among the young Olympians featured.

Reading through the list it's noticeable how many of the teens are working towards improving LGBT rights. James Charles, aka CoverBoy, was included; as was Gavin Grimm, the transgender Virginia student who teamed up with the American Civil Liberties Union to fight for his right to use the boys' bathroom.

After becoming the youngest Nobel laureate ever in 2014, the list wouldn't be complete without Malala Yousafzai who was celebrated for her ongoing work to educate young women around the world. Kinda makes you think twice about what you were doing at 19.

Check out the whole list here.


Text Wendy Syfret
Photography Oliver Hadlee Pearch 

Maddie Ziegler
Barbie Ferreira
Jaden Smith
Gaten Matarazzo
Amandla stenberg