You may not know Rowan Blanchard in the UK but her 5.2 million Instagram followers are engaged and mobilized by her every pixel and word. Like many before her, namely Britney, Selena and Miley - who are now so famous they are known by one name – Rowan graduated from the school of Disney fame.
Coming of age in a world where feminism is no longer a word to be whispered, Rowan used her platform as the star of “Girl Meets World” – a coming of age tale set in New York - on the Disney Channel to prove herself as highly politically aware. At jut 16 years old her power far outstrips her years, as does her CV.
Many people’s first introduction to Rowan will be her star turn as the bitchy queen bee in Disney’s A Wrinkle In Time opposite the formidable talents of Oprah, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling. Such a casting move could not be more apt given the fact the film centres around a teenage girl who learns to love herself by discovering her light within. Something Blanchard actively encourages her loyal fans to do every single day.
Fellow future leader, the Black-Ish actress Yara Shahidi shared her thoughts with Teen Vogue on why Blanchard has such an impact on their generation. “Her work, her heartfelt humanitarianism, her art, and her friendships all blossom from a belief that everybody should be allowed to be and live in their truest form, without pressure or recrimination.” Whilst appearing to be tuned in to the world since birth, Rowan believes no one is born woke, it’s a learning process – a process she is still figuring out she proudly admits.
However, like every girl or guy in the fame game today, you need to be a professional multihyphenate and acting is just part of Rowan’s story. After thinking about writing a book since the tender age of 13, Blanchard published, Still Here this month. The book acts as a scrapbook of essays, art and personally selected thoughts from the likes of poet, Rupi Kaur, photographer Gia Coppola, and writer Jenny Zhang. Talking to W Magazine about the project, Blanchard wanted the tome to be a symbol of, “teenage survival… I don’t view it specifically about being about being a teenager girl, it’s just about growing up, whenever that is.”
Growing up in the age of social media let alone in the public eye doesn’t seem to phase the 16 year old nor does she shy away from issues to help her career excel. In a rare move for any young Hollywood darling Blanchard has openly discussed her sexuality, defining herself as queer.
Rowan’s social media posts can be unapologetic and raw, shooting from the hip in the most profound of ways. In a recent post about gun control, a topic typically neglected by those in the limelight Blanchard did not hold back, “believe in us, affirm our voices, and recognize that young people have historically been at the front lines of every fight. Being young and processing the news is unfiltered, truthful, and raw: we are angry that we are dying. Help us.” 259,000 likes and countless comments later you can’t help but wonder how many teenagers - a new breed of politically active teenagers - Rowan has mobilized and encouraged to open up a dialogue at grass roots level.
However in order to manage her relationship with fame, Rowan created a private Instagram account where she can express herself openly to a much smaller group of close pals. This is practically modern equivalent of a selective sleepover soirée. For her, ‘it’s the closest thing I think I will feel to going to a regular high school and sharing private things with friends.”
Staying completely private seems impossible for this woke woman, however using her experiences to continuously help fellow young gals. Last year the star took to a conference and wrote an Instagram post about her dealings with depression, stating, “I learned this year that happiness and sadness are not mutually exclusive.”
Her wardrobe has certainly awoken in recent months, too. Having already walked the runway during New York Fashion Week for Opening Ceremony and this season Rowan transcended to FROW fame – gracing the Miu Miu show wrapped up like the perfect, most stylish of sartorial gifts.
Moreover Rowan represents something bigger than herself, a new chapter in celebrity culture. Previously young stars would be actively encouraged to keep personal struggles hidden and maintain a wipe clean veneer. Rowan is now part of a new breed of celebrity who won’t apologize for oneself, hide their personal struggles for the sake of their careers or not use their platforms for the greater good.
This is what a truly woke millennial looks like, consider yourself awoken to the power of Rowan Blanchard.