1) Morgan Saylor
As Dana Brody, daughter of Damian Lewis’s terrorist/congressman Nick Brody on Homeland, the Decatur High student provides an emotional core—compared to the heartless adults—on Showtime’s runaway Emmy-winning drama.
2) Cat Power “Big, confident, and captivating” is how the L.A. Times describes Sun, the latest from the Cabbagetown-raised chanteuse once known as Chan Marshall.
3) The Walking Dead AMC’s undead stagger on, fueling our zombie tourism economy and racking up ratings.
4) Zac Brown Band A video by Mike Judge; an onstage gig with Gregg Allman; and a new album, Uncaged, were 2012 highlights for ZBB
5) Steel Magnolias (2012) Sure, the accents were overwrought—but they were in the original tearjerker too. Kenny Leon’s all–African American version of Magnolias set Lifetime ratings records.
6) Cartoon Network The homegrown network turned twenty—and scored Emmys for Adult Swim’s Childrens Hospital and kid-friendly Regular Show.
7) Donald Glover We love Stone Mountain’s Glover as affable Troy on Community. His turn as alter-ego musician Childish Gambino? Meh.
8) Janelle Monáe
The singer/performance artist/self-described android became the coolest face of CoverGirl. Ever.
9) Tyler Perry Taking over for Morgan Freeman in the James Patterson franchise, Perry stars in Alex Cross—a big-budget movie that does not have his name in its title. Oh yeah, he also signed a production deal with Oprah.
10) The Vampire Diaries The Covington-and Conyers-shot vampire drama is a cheesy antidote to The Walking Dead.
11) T.I. the Novelist In case you weren’t aware, the rapper/ex-con/reality-TV star also pens fiction. His second book, Trouble & Triumph, hit shelves in September. Sample sentence: “As Power paced back and forth in his room like a caged animal, his thoughts went from his mother to Jesus to Beauty.”
12) Love & Hip Hop Atlanta Best summed up in Kelly Smith Beaty’s HuffPo essay that went viral: “I, like many of you, watched in horror as a cable network debuted yet another reality drama based on black life as it purportedly unfolds in the ATL.” Also worth noting: Star Lil Scrappy was arrested for probation violation.
Photograph by Loxy!!/Flickr. This article originally appeared in our December 2012 issue.