The furniture was fuzzy and the ’fits were fabulous at the first-ever Teen Vogue Summit, which drew more than 500 young activists and leaders to venues throughout Los Angeles on Friday and Saturday. Over the past two years, the youth-oriented magazine has transformed into a powerful voice in politics and pop culture, a fact reflected by this weekend’s star-studded lineup.
While Friday was spent immersing teen attendees in local companies like Instagram and Toms, Saturday was packed with panels, performances and talks by a diverse mix of big-name speakers. Bookended by keynote interviews with Hillary Rodham Clinton and Representative Maxine Waters, the day featured director Ava Duvernay, Black Lives Matter activist DeRey Mckesson, poet Cleo Wade, muslimgirl.com founder Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, actress Amandla Stenberg, and many more.
Saturday’s biggest draw was Clinton, who guest-edited the December issue of the publication’s now-shuttered print edition. The 2016 presidential candidate shared the stage with 17-year-old Black-ish star, social justice activist, and all-around wunderkind Yara Shahidi. Amidst discussions about gender discrimination, James Baldwin, and gun control, they praised the young audience for its political astuteness. “This is the most inclusive, diverse, thoughtful generation,” said Clinton. “If you vote, we’re going to win.”
“This is the most inclusive, diverse, thoughtful generation,” said Clinton. “If you vote, we’re going to win.”
Many of the teens who made up that audience traveled to the summit from across the country, some paying their own way and others using scholarships or grants to cover the steep price tag (two-day tickets for the summit cost $549). Along with panels, attendees had the option to participate in interactive workshops and one-on-one mentor sessions, where they could pick the brains of successful women like Compton Mayor Aja Brown and Sephora Chief Merchandising Officer Artemis Patrick in fabulously plush outdoor lounges furnished by PBTeen.
Late’Jah Whittaker, a 17-year-old freshman at Cal State Northridge, was invited by the nonprofit organization Black Girls Code to attend the conference. “It’s been really inspiring, I’ve learned a lot,” she said. “I’m really interested in computer science and technology. One of the workshops I was lucky enough to be a part of was on artificial intelligence.”
Another perk that came with the ticket price? The swag. Whittaker’s friend Camille Brown—a 16-year-old aspiring pharmacist-slash-model—was particularly excited about the gratis Juicy Couture jackets being distributed. Sadly, the Juicy booth ran out of hoodies before your humble reporter could snag one.
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