For many 20-somethings, 2016 was an interesting year. And while Barbara Walters’ famous yearly special may be long gone, we at FTS are recognizing the top inspirational 20-somethings who have made you believe the year wasn’t (nearly) as bad as you thought. Here are the 10 most fascinating 20-somethings of 2016!


1. Emma Watson (26)

While she’s best known as Hermione Granger, Emma Watson has also been a huge supporter for women’s rights. Since she became a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador in 2014, Emma released a short video titled “Hurdles,” which highlights the obstacles women have faced and continue to encounter in the battle to achieve equal rights.  In addition, her He for She campaign began partnering with universities and features institution leaders working toward fixing gender imbalances. Oh, and she’s playing Belle in Disney’s live-action version of Beauty and the Beast that comes out in March 2017.

Emma Watson


2. Ashley Graham (28)

2016 was the year of Ashley. Not only was she the first plus-size model to appear on Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue, she took hosting duties of the newest season of America’s Next Top Model from Tyra. She was also in DNCE’s “Toothbrush” video, playing Joe Jonas’ love interest. But what’s most impressive is that Forbes named her to its “30 Under 30” list, and she has her own Barbie doll that was made without a thigh gap, which shows that Mattel has been making strides to represent diversity and body positivity.

Ashley Graham


3. Aly Raisman (22)

All eyes may have been on teammate Simone Biles, but Raisman deserves just as much recognition. As the captain of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Gymnastics team, Raisman snagged one gold and two silver medals in Rio, right behind Biles. Aly has also been outspoken about body positivity, especially with her small frame. We hope she’s eyeing 2020, because we can’t get enough of her (or her parents)!

Aly Raisman Olympics 2016


4. Anthony Rizzo (27) and Kris Bryant (24), 2016 World Series Champions

108 years is a really long time. But that’s how long it took for the Chicago Cubs to win another World Series title. Every year, Cubs fans would be optimistic that “this was the year” the Cubs would win. And on November 2, it finally happened. Led by manager Joe Maddon, and assisted by the dynamic duo of Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant, better known as “Bryzzo,” the Cubs brought life back to a city that actually cared about baseball. First baseman Rizzo, who is also a cancer survivor is not only excellent at Twitter, but also showed off some pretty baller dance moves when he appeared on SNL. Third baseman Bryant is one of the hottest baseball players ever. And while both of these guys have leading ladies, Rizzo and Bryant have a bromance so great that the only (other) love they have is for Cubs fans.


5. Brie Larson (27)

Brie Larson was like the Jennifer Lawrence of 2016 – she was everywhere throughout awards season and everyone fell in love with her. She won the Oscar for Best Actress for Room, where she played Jacob Tremblay’s mom in a truly powerful performance. And if you’re thinking, “I feel like I know her from somewhere,” you’re right: Brie was a “Six Chick” with Ashley Benson in 13 Going on 30, but before that, she was Beverly Mitchell’s sister in the Disney Channel Original Movie Right on Track. More recently, she played Jonah Hill’s love interest Molly in 21 Jump Street and Amy Schumer’s sister in Trainwreck. But the Oscar win is just the beginning – Brie is slated to play Captain Marvel in the newest installment of the Avengers series – yep – a female lead superhero in a role traditionally for men – and we can’t wait to see where she lands.

Brie Larson


6. Twenty One Pilots (28)

If you haven’t heard of this musical duo, you’ve been living under a rock. Twenty One Pilots, comprised of vocalist and keyboardist Tyler Joseph and drummer Josh Dun, is an indie pop/rock duo whose fourth album “Blurryface” pushed the pair into the spotlight in 2015. In 2016, the guys recorded “Heathens” for the Suicide Squad soundtrack, which became one of the top songs of the summer. Along with the success of “Ride”, the duo became the first act to top the Billboard Pop and Alternative Songs chart simultaneously with two different songs. And to cap off 2016, Twenty One Pilots is up for the 2017 Grammy for Record of the Year for “Stressed Out.”

twenty one pilots


7. Danielle Brooks (27)

Better known to millennials as Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson on Orange is the New Black, Brooks learned that another shade was better suited for her when she starred alongside Jennifer Hudson in the Broadway revival of The Color Purple. This year, she got nominated for a Tony, starred alongside Ashley Graham (#2 on this list) in a Lane Bryant campaign, and ha been very outspoken about body positivity. #YouGoGirl

Danielle Brooks


8. Claudia Oshry (22)

Better known as the “Girl With No Job”, Oshry went from popular influencer to overnight celebrity with her relatable, how-do-I-avoid-the-quarter-life-crisis memes and content about millennial life. Thus, the @girlwithnojob is the real life coach we all need in this post-grad world and proof that if your content is witty enough, Instagram can become your dream job.

Works every time (@mybestiesays)

A photo posted by Claudia Oshry (@girlwithnojob) on

9. Matt Bellassai (26)

If you’ve ever had a bad day at work and needed to unwind with a glass of wine, Bellassai feels your pain (and maybe a little more). A former BuzzFeed writer, Bellassai was responsible for the “Whine About It” series, a group of short video clips he starred in discussing pop culture topics and drinking wine. The series was so popular that Bellassai scored a People’s Choice Award in January 2016 for “Favorite Social Media Star”. And while he put the videos on hiatus earlier this year to focus on his brand, he’s not going anywhere. Bellassai newest video series, called “To Be Honest,” still maintains the same of “Whine About It,” but in a different location. While he’s planning a tour for 2017, if you can’t get tickets, you can get your hands on his new wine, appropriately named “To Be Honest.”



10. Jessica Antelby (26) and Elliot Tebele (25)

Perhaps you know them better as Instagram’s married power couple – @beigecardigan and @f*ckjerry. Jessica’s an NYC-based stylist and Elliot uses his handle and various others under Jerry Media Network, and together they’ve created some of the most creative memes to sweep the millennial nation. They have 13.3 million combined followers and counting.

This kid won. (Twitter: madddiiison)

A photo posted by Jessica Anteby (@beigecardigan) on

Yaa dig?

A photo posted by Elliot Tebele (@fuckjerry) on


Hannah Gettleman is a bubbly twenty-something living in Chicago. She graduated in 2012 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in Journalism. Don't tell her that print is dying--she's already made the switch to public relations. As a Midwest girl, winter happens approximately 80% of the year, so she knows a thing or two about a good pair of snow boots. She lives for summer weather (even though she can never tan), Boy Meets World reruns, and an unhealthy addiction to dark chocolate and online shopping. She's a die-hard Chicago sports fan, even though she's well aware the Cubs always end up in last place every year.

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