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Riz Ahmed, Ava DuVernay, Barry Jenkins & More Make TIME’s 100 Most Influential List

Every year, TIME Magazine releases an issue that comprises their picks for 100 Most Influential People of the past year.

This year, the list is more diverse than ever before and brings many powerful people of color together as Pioneers, Artists, Titans, Leaders and Icons.

Check out some of the people that made their impact on the world this year:


Riz Ahmed is probably best known for his role as an MC in the hip-hop group, the Swet Shop Boys and as an actor in films such as Rogue One, Nightcrawler and the critically acclaimed mini-series, The Night Of.

However he was named a pioneer by TIME because of his activism. He raised funds for Syrian children and refugees, and advocated for diversity in the House of Commons.

Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote the piece about Ahmed for TIME and had amazing things to say about his counterpart:

“To know him is to be inspired, engaged and ready to create alongside him. The year 2016 was when all the seeds he planted bore glorious fruit, and here’s the best part: he’s just getting started. Look! We’re alive at the same time as Riz Ahmed!”

Chance the Rapper – Took home the coveted ‘Best New Artist’ trophy at the 2017 Grammy Awards for his mixtape which was exclusively released on streaming platforms and was the first album to chart on the Billboard 200 based solely on streams.

But apart from his musical talent, Chance utilizes his celebrity in order to give back. The kid from Chicago regularly gives back to his community and in 2016 announced that he would donate $1-million to help with the funding of Chicago public schools.

Fellow Chicago rapper, Common, had this to say about Chance:

“He streams his albums instead of selling them. He makes music from an unapologetically inspiring and Christian perspective—music that transcends age, race and gender. He gives back to his Chicago community.”

Constance Wu – is most likely everyone’s favourite TV mom (well, she’s my favorite TV mom at least) in her role as Jessica Huang on ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat.

But the hilarious actress also knows her role on the series goes beyond just being a mother.  As she is one of the only Asian-American women on TV, her role as Jessica means the world to many and her outspokenness about Hollywood looking the other way as it pertains to sexual assault is why she’s a pioneer.

Lena Dunham had this to say about Wu’s fight for justice:

“This year—when she spoke out against Hollywood’s knack for dismissing sexual misconduct in our great men—she chose honesty and fight over the neutrality so many think they need to maintain in order to further their careers. It was a hallelujah moment.”

Tamika Mallory, Bob Bland, Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour – The four amazing women who created the Women’s March movement.

It was a time for the women of the world to take a stand and fight for equality and to be heard. On January 21, 2017 marches took place, not only in America, but across the globe, being broadcast to millions of people worldwide.

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand praised Mallory, Bland, Perez, Sarsour and the movement:

“The moment and movement mattered so profoundly because it was intersectional and deeply personal. This is the rebirth of the women’s movement. These women are the suffragists of our time. And our movement isn’t going away—it’s just the beginning.”


Alicia Keys – Mrs. Keys is best known for her musicianship and son-writing with countless chart-topping hits like “Fallin”, “No One”, “Karma,” Unthinkable” and “Holy War” (just to name a few) and is the newest coach on NBC’s hit show, The Voice.

But the mother wife and mother of two, never shies away from her passion for philanthropy with her organization, Keep A Child Alive or her We Are Here Movement which brings together a coalition of organizations which tackle issues pertaining to equality and justice, women and children, climate and consciousness.

Friend and actress, Kerry Washington had great things to say about the songstress:

“Alicia doesn’t hide her truth, her flaws, her dreams or her journey. It is that authenticity and vulnerability that endear her to us. We are drawn to her honesty, we respect and adore her, and in doing so, we move closer to embracing our own true selves.”

Barry Jenkins – is the director of Best Picture Oscar winner, Moonlight. With a small budget of $1.5-million and 25 days of shooting, Jenkins seemed to pull together the impossible.

The film went on to receive critical acclaim and made $55-million at the box office with subject matter that was timely and brilliantly poignant. However, it was the best movie of the year.

Director, Kathryn Bigelow had praise for Jenkins and his willingness to direct beautiful films of substance:

“He not only knows where he is coming from, but he has the gift of being able to show you that place and make you understand it—from capturing the literal colors of a city to the deep untold anguish of a young boy searching for his place.”

Ava DuVernay – She’s been making films for years and she always makes sure to tell the stories that are so important to be told. She’s received accolades for directing films such as Selma and will direct Disney’s upcoming, A Wrinkle in Time.

But her latest work, a documentary called 13th was certainly some of her most eye-opening work yet and explored the issue of mass incarceration and race in the United States justice system. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at this year’s Oscars and was named as one of the best films of 2016 by Peter Travers of the Rolling Stone.

Tennis star, Serena Williams celebrated DuVernay’s turn behind the camera and her courageousness:

“Ava makes it her mission to tell important stories, fromSelma to her prison documentary 13th, 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.”


Viola Davis – The extraordinary actress received a much-deserved Oscar for her turn as Rose Lee Maxson alongside Denzel Washington in Fences. It hasn’t been an easy road for Davis, but she is a fighter and is powerful, portraying characters that many have yearned to see on the screen for years.

She is the first Black actor to achieve acting’s ‘triple crown’ having won an Oscar, Tony, and Emmy. She’s also the first woman of color to ever recieve five SAG awards. It’s amazing to Davis finally getting her due. She truly is an icon.

Colleague, friend and cheerleader, Meryl Streep had this to say about her fellow leading lady:

“Viola has carved a place for herself on the Mount Rushmore of the 21st century—new faces emerging from a neglected mountain. And when she tells the story of how she got from where she was to where she is, it is as if she is on a pilgrimage, following her own footsteps and honoring that journey. Her gifts as an artist are unassailable, undeniable, deep and rich and true. But her importance in the culture—her ability to identify it, her willingness to speak about it and take on responsibility for it—is what marks her for greatness.”

RuPaul – It is no surprise that RuPaul is found on the list under icons. Back in 1993 he released the dance album, Supermodel of the World and the lead track, “Supermodel (You Better Work)” peaked at 45 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Since then, entrepreneur began his own reality TV show called, RuPaul’s Drag Race which is on its ninth season. He is a mogul who shows no signs of slowing down.

Model, Naomi Campbell, had wonderful words to say about her friend, ‘Ru’:

“…Millions more people are getting to know Ru like I do. It’s incredible what he’s done for the drag queens who compete on that show—bringing them out, introducing them to a mainstream audience and letting them be proud of who they are and what they want to be. I am blessed to know Ru. We all are.”

Other amazing people named to the 100 Most Influential list are:

Colin Kaepernick, John Lewis, Fan Bingbing, John Legend, Kerry James Marshall, Donald Glover, Leslie Jones, Jean Liu, Vijay Shekar Sharma, LeBron James, Jeanette Vizguerra,  Raed Saleh, Cindy Arlette Contreras Bautista, Colson Whitehead and Simone Biles – just to name a few.

To see the full list and learn more about this year’s 100, be sure to check out TIME’s website.

TIME’s 100 Most Influential issue will be available for purchase the week of May 1.

Source: TIME

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