Time magazine recently published its annual list of “The 100 Most Influential People” and it was great to see some of our favourites recognised for their achievements over the last year.
Of course, what makes this list even more distinctive is that the honourees are endorsed by their peers and other high profile names who really understand their craft.
The Time 100 includes pioneers, leaders, talents and icons. Here are some of our favourite personalities on the 2017’s list.
- Colson Whitehead – the celebrated author of The Underground Railroad (part of our 10 books to have read in 2016 article), as well as six other novels.
“I’ve been a student of African-American history since about age 14, and I thought I knew just about everything there was to know about slavery and the Freedom Train. But that’s what’s so powerful about great literature: it deepens your perspective, opens your consciousness and allows you to be in the shoes of its characters, journeying alongside them.”
- Jordan Peele – actor, comedian and filmmaker. He debuted as a director on the film Get Out which is still enjoying cult success. Peele created a new genre dealing with racism in a satirical form.
“In the shifting laughter lacing the room, at once rancorous, nervous, defensive and, yes, knowing, a cinema maxim is turned on its head—rather than presenting us a mirror, this multi-hyphenate auteurist shows us more of ourselves than we ever wanted to see, a window through which America is left no choice but to recognize the purgatory of her own #sunkenplace.”
- Alicia Keys – singer and songwriter whose music shows authenticity and vulnerability.
“In the entertainment industry, there is intense pressure to conform in order to create an easily marketable product. But if you listen to Alicia’s music, learn about her Keep a Child Alive foundation or witness her life, you know that she is not a product of anyone but God, her family and her truth.”
- Ava Du Vernay – director and screenwriter. Her point of view is original and inspiring, reflecting different perspectives other than her own.
“Ava makes it her mission to tell important stories, from Selma to her prison documentary13th, and to empower important storytellers—by choosing only female directors to helm each episode of her OWN show, Queen Sugar, for example. She’s opening doors, and that’s courageous.”
- Simone Biles – an artistic gymnast and all round Olympian in the truest sense of the word.
“That girl was born to do what she does. And she is the best at it. Not the best black gymnast, not the best black-girl gymnast. The best gymnast. It really is inspiring. It’s like she’s sending a message to everyone who’s watching: No matter what you’re going through in life or what your circumstances are, you still can be No. 1. You’ve just got to work hard.”
- David Adjaye – the amazing architect and lead designer of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C.
“David Adjaye is one of the great architectural visionaries of our time. His work—deeply rooted in both the present moment and the complex context of history—has envisioned new ways for culture to be represented and reflected in the built environment. Nowhere is this more evident than in his recent triumph on the National Mall.”
- Viola Davis – an inspiring actress and producer with a diverse and fruitful career. Her work always goes beyond expectations, but through her success she never forgets her journey.
“When you spend your life embodying other lives, if you are successful, the one that belongs to you can silently slip behind. But Viola Davis’ hard-won, midlife rise to the very top of her profession has not led her to forget the rough trip she took getting there. And that is why she embodies for all women, but especially for women of color, the high-wire rewards of hard work and a dream, risk and faith.”
- Leslie Jones – comedian and writer on Saturday Night Live. She is a fearless icon in standup comedy.
“All the absurdity and pathos of being human. All the joy of having a heart that big. She’s going to be the person who says out loud what you were thinking, when you didn’t even realize you thought like that.”
- Fatou Bensouda – lawyer, international criminal law prosecutor and legal adviser, this powerful woman does it all, but protecting the defenceless is her main job.
“Justice may be blind. But when it comes to the politics of where it can be applied, Bensouda knows she has to go in with her eyes wide open.”
- Ashley Graham – plus-sized model who embraced her body and inner beauty becoming an inspiring role model for all women.
“Ashley’s firsts will last in our minds forever, permanently imprinted in our skulls that all of our beauty matters.”