Honoree: Jalaiah Harmon
The Grind: Dancer
Find Her: @Jalaiah
Jalaiah Harmon is the quintessential Black teenager.
Now a sophomore in high school, the ATLien burst onto the scene when her TikTok choreography for the Renegade Challenge went viral. At just 14, Jalaiah would see the dance moves she created in just ten minutes on the way to dance class appear everywhere, from television shows, to social media platforms, to news segments, to NBA courts. The only thing missing, was the creator herself. In what followed, Jalaiah would learn the power of Team Harmon, the proverbial Black village, and her family.
Jalaiah learned her first lesson in ownership on the world’s biggest stage, the internet. As influencers and celebrities started posting the dance, Black creators and those who heard about Jalaiah’s quest to get credit for her dance from a New York Times article started tagging her and demanding that she was properly cited. Suddenly, everyone was crediting the original creator.
For the honor-roll student, preparing for college is more important than fame. The daughter of two doctors of education, Jalaiah is well grounded. “School will always come before going viral or being famous,” she says. The teenager has also developed a new pastime between making “A”s and 8 counts, doing hair and makeup.
Counting Marsai Martin as an inspiration, she is excited about the future. “I know I won’t just be known as ‘the girl who created the Renegade,’”, she says. “There are so many great opportunities continuing to come my way and I can’t wait to see where they take me.”