American news magazine TIME released its highly anticipated “100 Most Influential” list on Wednesday, honoring celebrities, athletes, trailblazers, and luminaries who have left an impressive impact on the world in the past year.
It features extraordinary leaders from around the world working to build a better future, from entertainers striving to make Hollywood more inclusive to activists fighting for sustainability and human rights. They are disrupters, fixers, doers, iconoclasts, problem solvers—people who in a year of crisis have leaped into the fray,” said TIME CEO and editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal about the 18th edition of the list.
The publication also unveiled its seven worldwide covers, which feature Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan Markle, Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, Academy Award winner Kate Winslet, Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Billie Eilish, World Trade Organization Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang, and Korean-American writer Cathy Park Hong.
Harry and Meghan earned praises from TIME for their actions this year that “not only prompted deep re-appraisals of British society and the monarchy’s place within it, but have also catalyzed essential conversations on topics from mental health to misinformation.”
Fellow Grammy winner Megan Thee Stallion spoke about the unapologetic, unpretentious genius of the 19-year-old Billie Eilish for the latter’s cover: “She is a rare spirit who speaks from her heart with no pretenses… One who is strong, but still learning and still growing. A woman who stands up for herself and advocates for women everywhere.”
Making waves at this year’s Tokyo Olympics, Simone Biles stood for the esteemed team of “titans” on TIME’s list. Talking on her cover story about her achievements inside and outside the mat was tennis player Serena Williams.
“She is using her mature voice and platform to share her personal journey of self-love, respect and acceptance—Simone is wise beyond her years,” Williams said. “By living her truth so loudly and by championing mental health, she is setting new standards of beauty, strength and resilience, breaking down today’s image-obsessed stereotypes and encouraging others to do the same.”
Kate Winslet, star of HBO’s Mare of Easttown, still exemplifies the same qualities that actor and filmmaker Kenneth Branagh saw in her 25 years ago. “I first auditioned Kate Winslet when she was 17. I thought she was 25. Such was her self-possession, presence and concentration in the room,” Branagh shared. “Three years later, I cast her as Ophelia in a film of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. She listened with superhuman acuity, and expressed character with effortless depth. She connected with Shakespeare entirely naturally.”
“[Today,] those same qualities are radiant, having now evolved into a truly awesome acting technique. Only now, hers is the art that entirely hides the artist. I still see her as 25, but now as a master of her art.”
Also joining the list of influential figures are the newly-engaged Britney Spears, whose long-standing legal battle versus her conservatorship has been making headlines; country music star Dolly Parton, who helped fund Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine with her $1 million donation; Oscar-winning Nomadland director Chloè Zhao; United States Vice-President Kamala Harris, NASA’s project manager MiMi Aung, and rapper Lil Nas X.
See the full TIME 100 Most Influential People list here.