TIME Magazine released its ‘100 Most influential People’ list yesterday, 19 April, and it boasted a record number of women and people under the age of 40 since its inception. There are 45 women in total on the 2018 Time 100 list, which included activists, fire-fighters, astronauts, writers, music artists, Black Panther director and cast members, and Hollywood darlings.
Time Editor-in-Chief Edward Felsenthal is aware that the list has been lacking in terms of representation in the past, as he expressed his pride at the precedent this year’s list has thus set for the future. ‘While we remain much too far from gender parity in global leadership, there are more women than ever on this year’s TIME 100 – proof that there are ways of changing the world beyond traditional power structures.’
According to Edward Felsenthal, the list is by no means a recognition of power and number of accolades achieved, but rather ‘a designation of individuals whose time, in our estimation, is now.’ Which makes one question how contentious US President Donald Trump made it on to the list.
Anyway, that is a discussion for another day, because right now we’re applauding our 10 favourite household names from the Time 100 list, along with the words written about them by guest contributors abou:
Proudly African Influential people
By: Lupita Nyong’o
South Africa’s pride and the world’s intellectual source of comedic relief Trevor Noah is listed in the Pioneers category along with fellow trailblazing endorphin inducers Tiffany Haddish and Issa Rae (both below). But beyond the wit and the jokes, Noah is inspirational for the following reasons detailed by actress Lupita Nyong’o;
‘Trevor, who grew up biracial in apartheid South Africa, has the unique ability to tell truths that bring us together. He is uncannily skilled at holding up a mirror to whatever room he is in. Trevor is always reaching out: across cultures, continents and boundaries.’
Nice Nailantei Leng’ete
By: Jaha Dukureh
Also in the Pioneers category is Kenyan activist Nice Nailantei Leng’ete, who has saved approximately 15 000 girl children from female genital mutilation.
‘As a Maasai child in Kenya, Nice Nailantei Leng’ete accomplished something remarkable: she escaped the cut, her culture’s ritualised female genital mutilation.’
‘But saving herself was not enough. As an adult, she has gone on to negotiate with village elders, who traditionally have not worked with women, and convince them that alternative coming-of-age ceremonies will be healthier for girls and better for communities. FGM and child marriage will end in Africa because of the likes of Nice,’ wrote Dukureh.
Iconic Influential People
By: Gabrielle Union
According to The New York Times, she is the woman ‘who created #MeToo long before hashtags.’ Tarana Burke’s activism against sexual violence began in 1997 when a 13-year old girl shared her experience of sexual abuse with her, and her powerful campaigns have since created a safe space for women to speak out about their experiences.
Gabrielle Union, who also recently spoke about being a rape survivor, shared these heartfelt sentiments about Burke;
‘When I first met Tarana Burke, I found a kindred spirit, somebody else who’s been screaming into the hurricane. Somebody else who’s been advocating for survivors of rape and sexual assault, and specifically young black women, whose voices have been silenced at best and completely erased from the national dialogue at worst.’
Are we surprised? Of course not. Rihanna’s global influence is immeasurable, and it is something Grammy Award-winning singer Adele describes as a lane of her own which she has ‘designed and conquered.’
‘The innovative and groundbreaking world of Rihanna that no one else will ever be safe in and get away with copying. She makes her own rules and bends ours,’ says Adele.
By: Yara Shahidi
These are the words of admiration for Congresswoman Maxine Waters expressed by Black.Ish actress and Harvard University student Yara Shahidi;
‘She is adored and admired by people who care about social justice and is oh so eloquent in letting the world, particularly the white men of Congress who dare test her acumen, know that she is not here for any nonsense. From “reclaiming my time” to leading a movement to “impeach him,” she says what many of us are thinking. And she reminds us that we are worthy of any space we occupy.’
By: Cyndi Lauper
She may have dropped the dollar sign from her name, but Kesha is still one of the music industry’s most valuable artists. True Colours singer Cyndi Lauper agrees, as she wrote,
‘Women make up roughly half of the U.S. workforce, yet somehow we are still fighting for equality, including in the music industry. Thanks to Kesha and other women who have stood up for themselves to demand justice and fairness, we are starting to turn a new page. It took far too long for us to come to this cultural moment, and we’ve got a really long way to go, but thanks to people like Kesha, we’re finally starting to make progress.’
The people’s most influential celebrities
Not to be mistaken for people nominated by the fans, but rather these are the names which have not left our lips since 2017.
By: Naomi Watts
When Nicole Kidman starred in award-winning 2017 series Big Little Lies, playing Celeste Wright she reminded us why she’s the formidable and highly acclaimed actress she is. Naomi Watts, actress and friend of Kidman is of the same opinion;
‘She fills her character with so much humanity, it is beyond unnerving. Her emotions. Her fragility. Her ferocity. Her subtlety. Her physicality. Her bravery. Watching her, I wanted to put my hand through the TV screen and pluck her from danger. Not solely because Nicole is my friend but because she had laid herself so courageously bare for the role that Celeste felt real. She could be anyone we know. There is no question that I and audiences the world over will continue to value and admire her for decades to come.’
By: Mindy Kaling
We’ve binge watched both seasons of HBO’s Insecure and appreciated how radiantly Issa Rae glows on any red carpet, and today we marvel at how this former Awkward Black Girl is one of Hollywoods’ most loveable personalities.
A woman of the same talents, Mindy Kaling, shares the same sentiments; ‘Only Issa Rae could make the adjectives awkward and insecure chic. That’s an impossible thing to do. But here we have her, Issa Rae: writer, actor, force of nature—and chic as hell.’
By: Kevin Hart
Her wild and outgoing character in 2017 blockbuster Girls’ Trip stole our hearts and ripped our stomach apart with laughter. Tiffany Haddish has since established herself as a worthy comedienne and an unconventional red carpet favourite.
Comedian Kevin Hart speaks fondly of his friend and says, ‘She’s just so authentic and unfiltered. You never know what’s going to come out of her mouth. And you can tell she’s having fun—she’s seen a time when things couldn’t get any worse, and she’s giving it all she has. When we were on set for our upcoming movie, Night School, our shared history helped us play off of each other. That chemistry translated like fireworks onscreen.’
By: Taraji P. Henson
Cardi B is the epitome of fearlessness and edginess. And she is the breath of fresh air the entertainment industry has been waiting for. Taraji P. Henson perfectly sums up the way the world has received her as a testament to the fact that ‘when you are cool with who you are, no one can use it against you.’
‘When her mixtape came out, I thought, That’s it. She found it! She’s clear on her talent, and she’s not trying to get in anybody else’s lane. She recorded “Bodak Yellow” because it’s what she loved. Now she’s the biggest thing in music. And even with all those eyeballs watching, she’s still unapologetically herself. Cardi B’s here to stay, baby, and I’m happy to be a witness.’
Now that you’ve seen 10 of our favourites, take a moment to see the rest of Time’s 100 Most Influential People list and mull over the guest contributors’ words about their role models, friends and colleagues.