One commonality among the greats is their ability to shape a more promising tomorrow for upcoming generations.

In February 2024, 18 Black leaders were recognized by Time magazine in its inaugural list of ‘The Closers,’ which amplifies change-makers who are working to dismantle the racial wealth gap. Among those were Angelica Ross; Aurora James; Arian Simone and Ayana Parsons of Fearless Fund; and Issa Rae, who recently revealed she has secured investors to build out a studio that will provide opportunities for creators.

During Time’s Impact Dinner: The Closers! held in Midtown Manhattan, NY, on Feb. 22, Rae reflected on her recognition and her impact over the years. She shared she has come a long way since her early days on YouTube through her web series “Awkward Black Girl.” She is the founder of independent media production company Hoorae Media, became the producer of two former shows for HBO (“Insecure” and “Rap Sh!t”), and dove into the spirits industry through the launch of Viarae Prosecco.

“The idea of changing the world is so daunting. So, I chose to focus on myself and try to be better and focus on what I could do in my small environment,” Rae said during the dinner. “Then I focused on my family and then my friends, and then my communities. And it led me to realize how I could make an impact in my own way. And in many ways, I feel like I’m just getting started. But in the last 10 years, what gives me hope is what so many people in this room are doing: centering us and being hyper-local in so many instances. It’s the focus on the impact we can make in our respective areas, with the hope that it will inspire and spread; that can truly make the difference.”

In an interview with AFROTECH, Angela Yee, a renowned guest and entrepreneur, similarly expressed a commitment to making a difference in the community, citing the impactful social justice work and activism of the late Michael K. Williams as a source of inspiration beyond mere celebrity status.

“I think about like Michael K. Williams and the legacy that he left behind. It wasn’t necessarily about his celebrity, it was about how people felt about him that didn’t even know him as an actor or as a creative. And so for me, I am most different by being able to impact people on a daily basis,” Yee shared with AFROTECH. “That’s why I do the juice bar. That’s why I do the coffee company. That’s why I’m doing the real estate and the building in Detroit (MI). That’s why I got my real estate license. I want to be able to impact everybody. Nothing means more to me than when someone comes up to me and they’re like, ‘My blood pressure’s lower because of your juice bar’ or ‘I got encouraged to go ahead and invest because of the things that I learned from listening to your show.’ So, that drives me.”

As AFROTECH previously mentioned, Yee franchised Juice For Life, an affordable juice bar, in Brooklyn, NY, that employs the local community and provides healthy alternatives. She then ventured into the coffee industry establishing Coffee Uplifts People (CUP) alongside Tony Forte and ​​LaRon Batchelor, and through the support of investor Brooklyn Roasting Co., per BKReader. The brand first launched through a series of social impact events that highlighted local Black- and minority-owned businesses.

It has since scaled from pop-ups to a brick-and-mortar store in 2021 with menu offerings from only Black and brown companies, Ebony reports. Additionally, CUP’s coffee beans can be found in major retail stores such as Target and Whole Foods.

What’s more, 11.2% of e-commerce proceeds is allocated to addressing the needs of the Brooklyn community, the company website mentions.

For Yee, this is merely scratching the surface as she also is a licensed real estate salesperson with investments in multiple properties in Brooklyn and Miami, FL. She is currently developing a 30-unit building that will support formerly incarcerated Detroit women, as AFROTECH previously reported.