The Coolest Daughters
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Sidestepping the pitfalls of celebrity childhoods, these ten progeny choose progress over partying.
The top ten most intriguing female offspring
In a world in which media lenses are focused intently on celebrity offspring from the moment they leave the hospital in their mothers' arms, it's easy to argue that the constant glare of klieg lights rarely yields well-rounded, thoughtful, self-actualized adults driven by a strong desire not just to do well, but also to do good. Upon research, though, it appears a few progeny have risen above the pitfalls of celebrity and made something of themselves, either by way of or in spite of the spotlights that have shined on their families since childhood. From shrewd, strong businesswomen to globetrotting philanthropists and artists -- with a couple of fresh-faced up-and-comers thrown in for good measure -- we present our list of the ten most impressive and noteworthy daughters to have emerged from famous families.
Malia and Sasha Obama: Not much is known about the personalities of President Obama's daughters Malia, born in 1998, and Sasha, born in 2001, and it's by design; the POTUS and his First Lady have made a point of keeping the girls out of the spotlight. We know Sasha is the youngest inhabitant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue since Amy Carter in the 1970s, that the young ladies chose to name the First Dog "Bo," and that their maternal grandmother lives with them in the first-ever tri-generational White House, but beyond those facts, we're in the dark, and that's probably a good thing. Given their parents' accomplishments and dedication to maintaining their kids' privacy, we can't wait to see the adults they grow up to be.
Ivanka Trump: While her father's brand of celebrity is a love-him-or-hate-him proposition, Ivanka Trump has made a name for herself as a level-headed businesswoman who cultivates an air of respect from those around her, both personally and professionally. Roundly seen from those in the fold as a tremendously hard-working professional in every sense of the noun, Trump nary says a word about her personal life, nor is she ever embroiled in scandal, checking into rehab for "exhaustion" or acting out in any way. Although she may not be entirely relatable given her high-dollar upbringing, it has to be said that her track record of behaving like a lady -- a smart, ballsy, graceful, elegant one -- is worth admiration, plain and simple. (A tiny note of trivia: Ivanka was born in 1981 -- the same year as Paris Hilton. Talk amongst yourselves.)
Angelina Jolie: Ever a polarizing figure because of the man on her arm and the way he allegedly found himself there, Angelina Jolie is no joke when it comes to global consciousness. Choosing intelligent roles on-screen and doing yeoman's work on social causes off-set, we presume she has help -- perhaps lots of it -- raising her children, but why not? There are six of them, and having spent a decade as a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Goodwill Ambassador while juggling Golden Globes and humanitarian awards, she's the very definition of "busy lady." The daughter of actor Jon Voight, her relationship with him has been complex at best and occasionally very public, but we find her passion for social causes and the heft she throws behind them much more compelling anyway.
Norah Jones: While it's no shock that the daughter of world-famous sitar player Ravi Shankar and concert producer Sue Jones was born with a gift for music, it's somewhat surprising to hear that, rather than spending a star-studded, bohemian childhood in New York or Los Angeles, her upbringing was actually rather suburban -- Southern, even. Jones grew up in Grapevine, TX, a suburb of Dallas, where she attended a performing arts high school and was heavily involved in the jazz program at the University of North Texas. Earning her stripes by dutifully singing backup, performing in lounges and shopping around her demo tape, she finally rose to fame with her debut album Come Away with Me in 2002, furthering her fascinating musical evolution and garnering some genuine street cred along the way.
Zoe Kravitz: When a girl calls Lenny Kravitz "dad" and Lisa Bonet "mom," there exist two universal truths about her identity: she will likely grow up to be a model/actress/singer with a steadily-expanding career, and she will forever be inarguably cool. Zoe Kravitz made her film debut in 2007's Catherine Zeta Jones vehicle No Reservations and has consistently booked acting and modeling jobs in the five years since; her band, Elevator Fight, has performed alongside the likes of The Roots, TV on the Radio and The Black Keys at The Roots Picnic in Philadelphia and South by Southwest in Austin; and after wrapping her most recent campaign for Vera Wang, she signed on for a role in an upcoming M. Night Shyamalan film with Will Smith. Like we said: inarguably cool.
Rashida Jones: When it comes to the offspring of legendary producer Quincy Jones, one might assume his daughter would demand a chart-topping debut album for her sweet 16, but on the contrary, Rashida Jones likely spent most of 1992 studying for her SATs and preparing her college essays. The choice paid off in spades; Jones graduated from Harvard in 1997, having studied religion and philosophy. Apparently, her philosophy of letting hard work speak for itself has carried into adulthood as she proves her comedic chops through roles on The Office (2006) and Parks and Recreation (2009-present) and her authorship of a comic book series as well as several screenplays, one of which is now in development with Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment.
Laila Ali: Sometimes, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, but when the grove is a male-dominated one and the apple is a woman making her mark in it, it's worth noticing. America may know Laila Ali primarily from her stint on Dancing with the Stars, but the sashaying stunner got her dancing figure into fighting form, quite literally, by fighting. Ali began pursuing her professional boxing career at the tender age of 15 and earned a litany of titles from her bouts in the ring; incidentally, her former American Gladiators co-host, pro wrestler Hulk Hogan, credits her for saving his life with a phone call in the midst of what he referred to as a "suicidal trance."
Tracee Ross: One would assume the daughter of ultimate diva Diana Ross would be a diva herself, at least in the behavioral sense. Where Tracee Ross is concerned, though, playing dress-up might be fun, but that's where the diva antics end. The nose-to-the grindstone actress spent eight consecutive years on the hit CW/UPN show Girlfriends, for which she earned two NAACP Image Awards and one BET Comedy Award. She's since turned in notable appearances on other network and cable shows but has also brought home awards for volunteering with LA charities close to her heart -- the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and Aviva House Organizations. Among her many titles is the one the Los Angeles Urban League gave her in 2004: "Volunteer of the Year."
Dylan Lauren: Classic American tastemaker Ralph Lauren's daughter may have grown up alongside a hard-partying set of trust fund babies, but she chose to eschew the celebutante lifestyle and instead pay close attention to her father's brand-building prowess. Several years after graduating from Duke University in 1996, she brought her childhood dream to reality in New York City (where else?) and opened Dylan's Candy Bar, the largest candy store in the world. Among her inspirations, she recalls her fifth birthday party at which she and her friends watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Transforming a childhood memory into a global empire? Pretty sweet indeed.
Amy Lynch, Features Columnist: When Amy was five years old, she made a decision that would inform the rest of her years… or, at least, her wardrobe: she was going to be Audrey Hepburn. Sadly, that never actually came to fruition –- after all, there’s only one Audrey. Luckily, though, Amy had a solid Plan B right from the start: to be a writer. She amassed spelling bee and poetry contest trophies as a kid, later graduating from Florida State University with a degree in English and using her creative mojo to plan... (more...)