4 Teen Queens We Wanted to Be Growing Up
According to Refinery29, the best thing about coming-of-age films is that, "you can watch them and get a better understanding of yourself today." The Breakfast Club, Mean Girls, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off are all considered staple American coming-of-age films and are ranked at the top of outlets like Complex, MTV, and the LA times. When thinking of African American coming-of-age films, Coolie High, Boyz N The Hood, and The Wood immediately come to mind— all of which are great movies, but fail to push the narrative of coming into Black womanhood. It's quite difficult to relate to and gain a better understanding of yourself if your story isn't told onscreen. Roles like Jordan in The Best Man, Terry in Soul Food, and the entire cast of Waiting to Exhale showcase women as we know them— beautiful, intelligent, and witty. However, how do these individuals come to be if the only portrayals in teen films about Black women involve a plot centered around teenage pregnancy in roles like Our Song, Precious, and Just Another Girl on the IRT? Although the following films aren't centered around Black women coming of age, these four teen queens prove what we all know: Black women can be and have been It girls since the beginning of time.
4. DIONNE DAVENPORT - CLUELESS
Played By: Stacey Dash
Favorite Line: The PC term [for virgin] is hymenally challenged.
Best Attribute: Wit
We Wanted Her: Closet & Sense of Humor
Reasons We Loved Her: Dionne's poise and infamous one-liners helped propel her character and the movie Clueless into cult classic territory. Although Dionne is a supporting character in the film, she is no sidekick. She has her own money, ideas of sexual liberations, and a humorous relationship as Murray's "woman!" Dionne also owns the only closet to rival her best friend Cher's in the film. Not even Stacey Dash's political views can blemish Dionne's place in our teenaged hearts.
3. PARIS MORGAN - LOVE DON'T COST A THING
Played by: Christina Milian
Favorite Line: Popularity is a job, Al, not a privilege. It's nothing but work and worries. Work to get in. Work to stay in.
Best Attribute: Charm
We Wanted Her: Wardrobe
Reasons We Loved Her: Paris has everything we thought we wanted as teens: beauty, labels, and a NBA-draft boyfriend who is desired by all. She makes the argument that popularity is not all it's cracked up to be and is looking to shed her Regina George image for her dreams of being the Black Norah Jones. She is able to recognize before many of her peers that likeness isn't everything, and what's in your heart counts for much more than what you own.
2. ISIS - BRING IT ON
Played By: Gabrielle Union
Favorite Line: I know you don't think a white girl made that shit up.
Best Attribute: Leadership
We Wanted Her: Ability to think on her feet
Reasons We Loved Her: The East Compton Clovers have been getting the short end of the stick for years until Isis joins as the team captain. Year after year, they have watched the routines that they've created win trophies for the much whiter, much lazier Toros squad that could afford to travel the world. Unlike previous Clovers' captains, Isis is enterprising and finds a way to raise money so that her team can compete in the national championships. She is able to lead her team to victory in Florida and bring back the trophy to East Compton, where it rightfully belongs.
1. NEW NEW - ATL
Played By: Lauren London
Favorite Line: My name is New New because I always rock the new, new shit.
Best Attribute: Tenacity
We Wanted Her: Hairstyles & Customized accessories
Reasons We Loved Her: New New née Erin Garnett appears on ATL as Rashad's love interest. However, thankfully for us, her character delves deeper than the flashy clothes and big smile. She has dreams that reach far beyond her pristine bedroom at the Garnett residence— which houses the Picasso that Esquire uses to chastise her. Like many of us, she is a person who is adamant about experiencing the world for herself. Although her father insists that the people from his old neighborhood are nothing but trouble, she learns through experience that working class people of that neighborhood (like Rashad and Esquire) share goals not too far removed from her own, but often lack the resources to achieve them. She has aspirations of attending Spelman College, though her parents are hellbent on her attending an Ivy League institution. We see New New progress into her HBCU, her love interest, and her true self throughout the movie and grow to love her a bit more than we did in the beginning.
Who is your favorite Teen Queen and why?