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time 100 2016 Ariana Grande
Kevork Djansezian—Getty Images

Ariana Grande

Apr 20, 2016

You’re going to be underestimated, you know. That’s how this goes, especially when you start young. Underestimated because you’re a girl, for one thing. Because you’re short and cute. Because you’re a child actor. Because you’re on Nickelodeon. Because you’re a white girl who wants to sing R&B. Because you wear cat ears and lingerie. Because you’re dating an actor, dating a boy-band singer, dating a rapper. You’re going to be underestimated.

But once you get used to that, once that becomes your daily bread, you recognize it as a weapon. It’s fuel. It’s oxygen. Because you know that no matter how much you are underestimated—by your peers, by casting directors, by your label, by the media, by your 39 million Twitter followers—you are going to open your mouth and that unbelievable sound is going to come out. That extraordinary, versatile, limitless instrument that allows you to shut down every objection and every obstacle. That voice—powered by nothing but your remarkable empathy, your ravenous intelligence, your cool discipline and your voracious ambition. They’re going to underestimate you, and you, my beautiful friend, are going to make music.

Brown is a composer and playwright whose musical 13 gave Grande her breakthrough role

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