2016 was a peculiar year in the creative world. A year full of artistic innovation, revolution, diversity, heavy losses, and plenty of controversy. As it is our passion and duty here at LaMay Day to keep our ears and eyes out for the newest and truest creative influencers, we wanted to gather a list of what we believe were iconic representatives of the creative arts in 2016. They made us laugh, , cry, think, and try. They made us question popular culture and what it means to be an artist in the modern day social media driven era. Here’s a toast to the Creative Icons of 2016…….
Not only is he an amazing MC, rapper, and performer, he is also one of few who is making huge strides with free music. He has a top 10 album and his own festival, all without a label or physical album release and has released his music for free on iTunes. He was also the first unsigned “stream only” music artist to perform on SNL with his performance last year. In addition, he chooses to use his growing popularity to give back to his hometown in Chicago, constantly getting involved in youth charities, and even organizing a free festival for anyone ages 13-24. Chance the Rapper is definitely deserving of this attention and is a true artist who seems to choose to keep his focus on the music not just the fame.
Not only did he Leo finally get his first Oscar win this year for his performance in “The Revenant”, but he was also responsible for releasing his documentary on climate change, “Before the Flood” this past November. DiCaprio, who is undebatably an outstanding actor, is also responsible for donating over $59 million to over 65 different charity organizations through his foundation. In addition, he has and continues to make huge strides spreading the awareness of environmental issues as a U.N. Messenger of Peace for the Climate.
This is not only Disney’s first Polynesian princess, but also their first ‘action-hero’ princess. “Moana” is one of the few mainstream films to come out that celebrates the South Pacific islands and makes sure to stay true to their culture and accurately represent their heritage. Moana is also the first real Disney princess without any love interests, with the filmmakers instead allowing her to be the hero of her own story. This movie is the start of a trend of a more dimensional and ethnic female lead for young girls to look up to.
This a capella group has had a big year, winning their second Grammy, making them one of the only artists to win a Grammy for an a capella performance. Their album, “That’s Christmas to Me” was also certified double platinum this February, making it the highest-charting holiday album by a group since 1962. In addition, their album, “Pentatonix” this year debuted atop the U.S. Billboard 200 chart. This group is both incredibly talented and incredibly diverse, with representation of the LGBTQ, African-American, and Latino communities, paving the road for other members of these communities and making a name for a capella groups everywhere.
Also known as Donald Glover, Gambino is a rapper, writer, actor, producer, director, comedian, singer, and songwriter. Not only does he do EVERYTHING, but he does it all AMAZINGLY and is incredible in every category! The multi-talented Childish Gambino released his new T.V. show “Atlanta” this year, that has already won several awards, including an @goldenglobes nomination… And his album “Awaken, My Love”, which debuted No. 1 on Billboard’s R&B albums chart. This year he was also cast to play young Lando Calrissian in the upcoming Star Wars film about Han Solo, and has landed a role in “Spider-man: Homecoming”, making him apart of two huge blockbuster franchises in a single year. In addition to all of this, he has a charitable side as well and a heart for struggling artists, donating to the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund that helps struggling professional musicians.
this Supermodel became the first plus-sized model to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated‘s Swimsuit Issue! Another notable appearance this year for her was starring in the @dnce music video “Toothbrush” with Joe Jonas. Graham’s popularity has paved some major roads towards a healthier body image and body acceptance for women and young girls growing up in today’s scrutinizing society. Graham realizes the significance in the popularity surrounding her modeling career and makes a point to go to high schools and speak out about the importance of positive body image. Ashley Graham has truly become a role model for girls everywhere, also finding between her career and appearances to participate in humanitarian missions with the Themba Foundation to South Africa.
The new trend becoming popular on Netflix now is the original series. Netflix production of original content allows viewers to binge their favorite shows to their hearts content, instead of having to wait each week to find out what happens next. Four Netflix originals that stand out this year are, “Stranger Things”, “Luke Cage”, “Fuller House”, and “The OA”. “Stranger Things” specifically has become an icon for the Netflix original, and has been nominated for multiple awards, including earning nominations for the Golden Globes, Grammy’s, and Critics Choice awards. “Luke Cage” has also received a lot of positive reception and stands out, having been referred to as Marvels best T.V. series. “The OA” has also received a lot of positive acclaim, and has been compared to “Stranger Things”. And finally, “Fuller House” stands out as an example of another trend this year, of Netflix rebooting some of the beloved classic shows that have previously gone off air.
At the young age of 22, Shamsia Hassani deserves recognition for the unique and inspirational street art she has been producing back in her hometown in Kabul, Afghanistan. Her graffiti work aims to inspire young Afghan citizens to create art of their own. Hassani uses the city as her canvas to portray her artwork and continues to produce her work in spite of the great deal of hostility and misogyny she has faced. She seems to be a passionate, determined young artist with a vision and she continues her work with her new series, “Birds of No Nation”, highlighting the surge of Afghan immigration. Hope to see more success for this young creative and her stunning work.
Actor, playwright, composer, rapper, writer, Lin-Manuel Miranda displayed his incredible talent with the amazing musical “Hamilton”. Miranda wrote the book, music, and lyrics for the musical, earning him a Pulitzer Prize, a Grammy and set the record for 16 Tony Award nominations, winning 11 of them including Best Musical. Miranda is also responsible for writing the music for Disneys “Moana” this year, which earned him nominations for a Golden Globe award and a Critics Choice Award, in addition to giving him the opportunity to be signed on as co-composer for the upcoming live action “The Little Mermaid” and to be hired on to star in the “Mary Poppins Returns” film. Miranda is also an artist who chooses to use his work to send a message about important issues and has an incredibly charitable side as well, raising $2 million for nonprofit organizations benefiting Hispanic children youth and families in hometown of New York and nationally.
What can’t Issa Rae do? Coming off the huge success of herhit web series “Awkward Black Girl” Rae catapulted her career as she produced, wrote, and starred in the hilarious hit show “Insecure” where you can also see yet another one of her talents, watching her rap as well! Her writing in the show has a raw honesty, presenting the main characters Issa and Molly dealing with their real-life flaws in relatable ways. We Can’t wait for season 2!
11: Lost Icons of 2016
We wanted to take a moment to honor and remember some of the amazing and talented souls we lost this year. These creatives had such strong impacts and we wanted to highlight a few of the many individuals who stood out for the influence they left. (L to R) Garry Marshall, Florence Henderson, Doris Roberts, George Michael, Christina Grimmie, Muhammad Ali, Debbie Reynolds, Carrie Fischer, Prince, Alan Rickman, Harper Lee, Gene Wilder, David Bowie, Anton Yelchin, Alan Thicke. Much love to all of these incredible artists and their families. Thank You
by Shannon Daly & Sharíck LaMay