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29 Under-30 Powerhouses Poised To Change The World

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    Forget everything you’ve been told about how apathetic young people are today; these 29 innovators are taking an array of creative and professional fields by storm, all before their 30th birthdays. From designers, inventors, and dancers to activists and politicians, we’re showcasing the young game-changers who push us to keep questioning boundaries and shaping a more equal, empathetic world. Taking inspiration from the second installment of 29Rooms, we’re investigating the role of power in these trailblazers' work — how it energizes them to spur meaningful change — and the inspiring mentors from whom they’re drawing strength.

    Ahead, hear how they’ve harnessed their power to truly change the world — and where it’s taking them next.

    29Rooms — Refinery29’s magical art and fashion funhouse — is back for its second year, kicking off during NYFW, from September 9 to 11. We’re bringing our commitment to women claiming their power to life through the event’s theme, “Powered by People.” To celebrate this sense of possibility, we’ve curated content that embodies our theme and pushes you to do more — start the conversations you want to hear, make change. We built our dream world and want to inspire you to power your own. For more information on the 29Rooms event and our initiative, click here.


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    Name: Mikaila Ulmer
    Age: 11
    Claim To Fame: Founder of "Me & The Bees" lemonade, which supports local beekeepers and has expanded to 55 Whole Foods markets
    Hometown: Austin, Texas

    "When I started Bee Sweet Lemonade, I thought I'd have to choose between making money and helping save the bees, and over time I realized that I could do both, and be what is called a 'social entrepreneur.'" — NBC News

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    Name: Hope Petra
    Age: 14
    Claim To Fame: Cofounder of Electrik Girls — a creative space dedicated to promoting girls of color.
    Hometown: Montpelier, VT

    How are you using your power to change the world for the better?
    "I try to be the person that’s often hard to find. I want to be supportive, to keep people educated about the social injustices we face in our society, and to share my art and experiences. The youth art collective I run with Lola — the Electrick Girls — is all about exactly those wants, and existing as a space for girls who feel like they don’t have a positive outlet for their identities, opinions, or creativity. Using social media as a platform has become a tangible way for people to make a better world, and I absolutely love being a part of it."

    Where or when do you feel the most powerful?
    "I feel the most powerful when I’m interacting with the people I love and who love me just the same. Even when it’s on Instagram, being able to know that there are people behind the profiles is so amazing. Support and feedback really matters to me, because it shows I’m making an impact, no matter how small."

    If you had a superpower, what would it be?
    "Love so powerful it would bring love, respect, and education into the brains of others. White supremacy, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and misogyny would come to a halt. The cultures of the oppressed would be valued, women would be valued, people would see the value in themselves. We’d see people who would normally perpetuate hate instead perpetuate love, appreciation, and equality. Of course, an ideal world isn’t realistic, but people like Donald Trump would realize the error of their ways, and that’s an amazing thing to dream about."

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    Name: Lola Nova
    Age: 14
    Claim To Fame: Cofounder of Electrik Girls — a creative space dedicated to promoting girls of color.
    Hometown: Hartford, CT

    How are you using your power to change the world for the better?
    "I don’t hold much power in this society as a Black queer girl. But I do have a voice and a sense of power on social media. It’s amazing how people have taken a platform designed to share arbitrary sentimental thoughts and photos, and created movements. I use my virtual power to create safe and positive spaces for young girls who feel like they’re creating, shouting, or existing in this imaginary void. I created the Electrick Girls with Hope to show that we aren’t alone, but a part of an intertwined and diverse community."

    If you had a superpower, what would it be?
    "I guess this doesn't really count as a superpower, but I'd want to be able to read people's energy and tell them what they need to hear when they need to hear it. There comes a lot of moments when we really need reassurance or some sort of sign to make us feel less lost. Authentic psychic readings really interest me a lot. I'd want to be able to tell people what they need to hear in order to heal and positively progress in life."

    Fill in the blank. Power is...
    "Power is selflessness."

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    Name: Amandla Stenberg
    Age: 17
    Claim To Fame: Actor
    Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

    "My larger goal is to affect and empower more Black girls, because I know how important it has been to me to see representations of myself out there through role models like Ava DuVernay and Laverne Cox and FKA Twigs--artists who are inspiring and creative and carefree." — BuzzFeed

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    Name: Stephanie Kurlow
    Age: 14
    Claim To Fame: Dancer working to become the first hijab-wearing professional ballerina
    Hometown: Sydney, Australia

    How are you using your power to change the world for the better?
    "I'm voicing my story out to the world. I'm using my social media platforms to inspire other people to achieve their dreams regardless of their faith, race, or background. I'm doing everything I can to make young people believe they are capable of anything."

    Who are the powerful women who have inspired you the most in your life?
    "I have so many role models; it's hard to pick only a few! But I really do have admiration towards Misty Copeland and Michaela de Prince, who are changing the face of ballet. However one of my main inspirations is Lilly Singh; she is a YouTuber and creator and is so incredible. Her drive to change the world is amazing, and I look up to her every day."

    Where or when do you feel the most powerful?
    "I feel the most powerful when I perform. Once I step on that stage and tell a story and express myself, I have this amazing feeling of power and happiness, and I love that."

    If you had a superpower, what would it be?
    "That's such a difficult question! But I'd love to be able to be anyone, that would be so much fun."

    Fill in the blank: Power is...
    "Power is freedom."