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2021 recap

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With 2021 coming to an end, MADAMENOIRE is celebrating several Black women who’ve had a fantastic year of record-breaking wins and personal accomplishments. Whether musicians, actresses, politicians, models, athletes, etc., they definitely dominated in 2021. 

What we loved most about this year is the women included in the list used their platforms to advocate prioritizing mental health over their careers, status and accolades. While some may argue their fame allowed them that privilege — seeing Black women put their peace first creates revolutionary ripple effects, regardless.

Peep these 21 women who did their thing in 2021.



Source: RANDY BROOKS / Getty


In 2021, RiRi became a billionaire. The singer and mogul’s empire continues to grow, thanks to her ever-evolving Fenty Beauty line and Savage x Fenty lingerie brand. In case you missed it, the latter held its third annual lingerie show, and in late November, Rihanna was honored as a national hero in her hometown of Bridgetown, Barbados.

RELATED CONTENT: “Rihanna Is Still Getting Comfortable With Her Billionaire Status”

The “Work” singer also stayed very lovey-dovey with A$AP Rocky, as the two rekindled their romance in Dec. 2020.

RELATED CONTENT: “A$AP Rocky Says Rihanna Is ‘The One’ — Calls Her ‘The Love Of My Life'”

Balenciaga : Runway - Paris Fashion Week - Womenswear Spring Summer 2022

Source: Richard Bord / Getty

Naomi Campbell

Naomi Campbell revealed she’s the mother of a baby girl in May. Since then, the 51-year-old has said she’s enjoyed every minute of motherhood so far and expressed feeling “really lucky.” It’s still unknown whether the child was adopted, born via surrogate or birthed by the supermodel herself and we can’t say even matters. 

Additionally, Campbell was named the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust ambassador and shut down the Lanvin runway during Paris fashion week.

RELATED CONTENT: “Naomi Campbell Offers A Glimpse Of Her Newborn Daughter In Family Christmas Photo”

The Academy Museum Of Motion Pictures Opening Gala - Arrivals

Source: Amy Sussman / Getty

Halle Berry

Halle Berry made her directorial debut via her Netflix film Bruised. Viewers received the sport’s drama well and the film’s soundtrack goes down in history as the first all-female hip-hop soundtrack ever — featuring tracks from Cardi B, Saweetie, the City Girls, H.E.R., Young MA, Latto, Flo Milli and more.

RELATED CONTENT: “Halle Berry Celebrates ‘Bruised’ Success And New Netflix Deal By Dancing And Getting ‘Tipsy'”

2021 Soul Train Awards - Show

Source: Theo Wargo / Getty

Jazmine Sullivan

Jazmine Sullivan did her thing on her fourth studio album, Heaux Tales. In fact, NPR recently dubbed the project “Music’s  No. 1 album of 2021.” The sultry singer also shared an emotional moment about self acceptance as she received a Soul Train Award.

RELATED CONTENT: “Jazmine Sullivan Responds To Those Criticizing ‘Heaux Tales’: You’re Missing The Point Of The Project'”

Playboy celebrates BIGBUNNY Launch at Miami Art Week

Source: Frazer Harrison / Getty

Cardi B.

Cardi B. had a year of wins. In addition to welcoming her son into the world with husband Offset, the 29-year-old mother of two also celebrated daughter Kulture’s third birthday, showed off her recently purchased New Jersey mansion and was gifted a stunning investment property in the Dominican Republic.

RELATED CONTENT: “Cardi B Posts Daughter Kulture’s Reaction To Baby Number 2 Being A Boy: ‘I Want A Baby Sister'”

Outside of her family life, Cardi also made strives forward in her professional life. The “Money” rapper became the first female rapper to have two diamond-certified songs and win ‘Best Hip Hop Video’ twice at the BET Hip-Hop Awards. She also served as an executive producer for Halle Berry’s Netflix film Bruised and was named Playboy’s first-ever Creative Director in Residence.

RELATED CONTENT: “IKTR: After All Her Recent Wins, Cardi B Dances The Night Away In Miami During Art Basel”

Stacey Abrams Campaigns With Virginia Gubernatorial Candidate Terry McAuliffe In Norfolk, Virginia

Source: Zach Gibson / Getty

Stacey Abrams

Stacey Abrams is one of this year’s most influential women. Her long-term efforts that flipped Georgia “blue” helped President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris secure presidential wins that got them into the White House in 2021. Abrams kept  Georgia residents abreast of their voter registration statuses and provided medical debt relief for over 100,000 Americans.

While the political candidate announced her second bid in the Georgia 2022 gubernatorial race earlier this month, Abrams also shared that she “absolutely” plans on running for president sometime in the future.

RELATED CONTENT: “Stacey Abrams Exemplifies Maya Angelou’s Thoughts On Protest’ Inherently’ Being Tied To Work”

MTV EMAs 2021 - Show

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Even though she has a major break up with longtime beau Quavo and received relentless criticism about the quality of her performances throughout the year, Saweetie still stayed on top somehow. The “Tap In” rapper celebrated the success of her McDonald’s meal that launched over the summer and its merch line, hosted the newly released Netflix show Sex Unzipped, hit the SNL stage and was a headlining act in iHeartRadio’s JingleBall tour.

Did we mention she also shaved her head?

RELATED CONTENT: “Saweetie Says She Had PTSD Following Her Freestyle On Hot 97: ‘It Was A Really Dark Point In My Life'”

Rolling Loud Miami 2021

Source: Rich Fury / Getty

Yung Miami

Yung Miami was 2021’s “IT” girl. Referred to affectionately by many of her fans as her first name Careesha, the rapper expanded outside of her City Girl hip-hop duo. She regularly interacted with her followers on Instagram Live, went viral over being romantically tied to Diddy, filmed her movie debut and dropped a solo single called “Rap Freaks.”

She and fellow City Girl J.T. celebrated winning the “Future Is Female” award at the Variety Hitmakers brunch earlier this month. In February, Issa Rae announced that the City Girls are executively producing an upcoming HBO Max show with her, so we know Yung Miami has that in the works as well.

RELATED CONTENT: “Stay Out My Business’: Yung Miami Says ‘Buenos Noches’ To Rumors That She’s Dating Diddy”

Joe Biden Sworn In As 46th President Of The United States At U.S. Capitol Inauguration Ceremony

Source: Alex Wong / Getty

Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris made HERstory in 2021, by becoming the first female Vice President. Her win was especially meaningful to People of Color as Harris’s win also made her the first Vice President of Black and or Asian heritage. What more needs to be said?

RELATED CONTENT: “‘Don’t Start Talking Like A Republican’: Kamala Harris Had To Read Charlamagne Tha God In Defense Of Joe Biden”

Black Excellence Brunch Honoring Tabitha Brown Hosted by Trell Thomas and Danielle Young

Source: Leon Bennett / Getty

Tabitha Brown

Last year Tabitha Brown blew up as a TikTok sensation due to her vegan recipes and charming sensibility.

In 2021, things really took off for the social media personality with the release of her McCormick Sunshine All-Purpose Seasoning blend and her book, Feeding the Soul (Because It’s My Business).

The spice blend sold out in under 40 minutes and the book, released in September, became a #1 New York Times Bestseller. 

Brown and her husband were also featured in the OWN series Black Love.

Brown recently opened Kale My Name, her first vegan restaurant in Los Angeles.

RELATED CONTENT: “Tabitha Brown Issues A Righteous Read After Wendy Williams Criticized Her Decision To Retire Her Husband”

HBO's Final Season Premiere Of "Insecure" - Arrivals

Source: Kevin Winter / Getty

Issa Rae

Issa Rae had a year of milestones. In addition to being the voice of Spider-Woman in the upcoming animated film “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse,” Issa also filmed and celebrated the final season of her HBO hit show Insecure, gave us a taste of the Sweet Life and tied the knot to her longtime love Louis Diame.

RELATED CONTENT: “Social Media Shares Memories And Farewells After The Season Finale Of ‘Insecure'”

The 2021 Met Gala Celebrating In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion - Arrivals

Source: Theo Wargo / Getty

Chlöe Bailey

Chlöe Bailey popped off like a rocket in 2021.

While she continued rocking the stage as half of the pop duo Chlöe x Halle, the powerhouse performer also went solo and shot up the charts with her song “Have Mercy.”

The internet often accused her of “doing too much,” but Chlöe stayed true to herself and assured us her social media presence, performances and upcoming album will remain over the top.

RELATED CONTENT: “Chlöe Bailey Opens Up About Online Bullying On Season Finale Of’ Peace of Mind with Taraji'”

2021 Australian Open: Day 13

Source: Darrian Traynor / Getty

Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka was one of 2021’s most talked-about athletes — if not the year’s most influential.

The tennis champion won her fourth Grand Slam in February, and later rocked the sports world with her choice to refuse to do press engagements at this year’s French Open for the sake of her mental health in May.

Taking a stand against the undiscussed pressures athletes face, Osaka grew in her role as a mental health advocate as she withdrew from several international matches and influenced other athletes to put themselves first.

RELATED CONTENT: “I Wish Working Black Women Could Prioritize Themselves Like Naomi Osaka”

Despite the criticism she faced, Osaka still received accolades and recognition. Her Barbie sold out in hours and her self-titled three-part Netflix docuseries was a success. She carried the Olympic torch, lit the Cauldron at this year’s Opening Ceremony and won the “Best Athlete in Women’s Sports” at the ESPYs.

The tennis champion also covered both the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition and Vogue Japan while launching a skincare line named KINLÖ and partnering with Panasonic.

73rd Primetime Emmy Awards - Arrivals

Source: Rich Fury / Getty

Tracee Ellis Ross

Tracee Ellis Ross stood up for all the ladies out there who’re unapologetically living and loving their life sans a husband and kids. The actress collaborated with Michaela Angela to executively produce The Hair Tales and filmed the 8th and final season of ABC’s Black-ish, a show many will miss.

RELATED CONTENT: “Tracee Ellis Ross Is Tired Of The Societal Pressures Put On People To Get Married: ‘Shut Up. I’ve Got So Many Things To Do.'”

2021 Australian Open: Day 1

Source: Cameron Spencer / Getty

Serena Williams

Serena Williams still had an epic year despite withdrawing from the U.S. Open and not competing in the Tokyo Olympics.

The tennis champion starred as Wonder Woman in a DIRECTV commercial, invested in a fintech startup geared towards helping people improve their credit and unveiled a shoe and athleisure line in collaboration with Nike. 

She also announced the 2022 release of a children’s book inspired by the toy doll she and her husband Alexis Ohanian Jr. designed for their daughter Olympia.

Williams and her family celebrated the success of the film King Richard — starring Will Smith in the lead role — which tells the story of her father Richard Williams’ dedication towards getting her and sister Venus to the top of the tennis world.

63rd Annual GRAMMY Awards – Media Room

Source: Kevin Mazur / Getty

Megan Thee Stallion

Megan Thee Stallion was named Glamour’s 2021 “Woman of the Year” for good reason. The rapper became a Grammy winner, took home three AMAs and was honored with the 18th Congressional District Humanitarian Award in her hometown of Houston, Texas. 

Megan capitalized on the popularity of her “Hottie Sauce” collaboration with Popeyes, became the first rapper to cover the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, partnered with Cashapp and graduated with her undergraduate degree in business administration from Texas State University. She also landed a reoccurring role in Disney+’s upcoming She-Hulk series.

Megan went public with her relationship with rapper Pardison Fontaine and has been boo’d up since.

RELATED CONTENT: “Megan Thee Stallion Cancels Upcoming Houston Concert ‘Out Of Respect’ For Astroworld Victims” 


Source: INA FASSBENDER / Getty

Allyson Felix

Track and Field all-star Allyson Felix continued her advocacy for maternity rights, all the while winning her 11th Olympic medal and launching her very own shoe line, Saysh.

2021 Toronto International Film Festival - "Dionne Warwick: Don't Make Me Over" Premiere

Source: Emma McIntyre / Getty

Dionne Warwick

81-year-old American music legend Dionne Warwick maintained her status as “the Queen of Twitter” and everyone’s “auntie” by weighing in on everything from whether Mariah Carey and Toni Braxton are icons, her longstanding beef with Wendy Williams and another upcoming Whitney Houston biopic.

Warwick also starred in an ongoing SNL bit created in her honor called The Dionne Warwick Show.

Gymnastics - Artistic - Olympics: Day 4

Source: Laurence Griffiths / Getty

Simone Biles

Named Time Magazine’s “Athlete of the Year,” 2021 confirmed Simone Biles is the G.O.A.T.

In addition to educating the masses on “the twisties,” Biles balanced breaking records, signing with Athleta, being an Olympian, prioritizing her mental health and testifying on the corrupt investigation of sexual assault within the sport.

RELATED CONTENT: “Simone Biles Lives Like A Champion In Her New 4,000-Square-Foot Home”

73rd Primetime Emmy Awards - Arrivals

Source: Rich Fury / Getty

Michaela Coel

Michaela Coel’s first Emmy win was a historic feat. It made her the first Black woman ever to take home an award in the Outstanding Writing for a Limited or Anthology Series/Movie category, thanks to her HBO hit series I May Destroy You.

RELATED CONTENT: “‘Rooting For Everybody Black’: Here’s A Rundown Of This Year’s Black Emmy Winners”

2021 Soul Train Awards - Show

Source: Theo Wargo / Getty

Summer Walker

Even though the songstress stays in the headlines with the shenanigans, Summer Walker’s 2021 album Still Over It solidified the singer as one of contemporary R&B’s finest.

RELATED CONTENT: “Summer Walker’s Hindsight Is 20/20 On New Album ‘Still Over It'”

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