Once again, Time has put together an eclectic mix of personalities for its Most Influential People List.
Among the heads of state, athletes, political figures and artists are familiar favorites like Emmy-winner Zendaya, new Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, Abbott Elementary star/creator Quinta Brunson and Grammy-winner Jon Batiste.
The list is split into the categories of artists, innovators, titans, leaders, icons and pioneers. Honorees are recognized with a short essay from a notable figure in their category, famous friends or collaborators.
Brunson, R&B singer Jazmine Sullivan, A Strange Loop Tony-nominee Michael R. Jackson, 91-year-old artist Faith Ringgold, Oscar-winner Ariana DeBose and The Batman star Zoe Kravitz are some of the names featured in the artists section.
Since her ABC comedy Abbott Elementary exploded on the scene, Brunson has been the talk of Hollywood. The show’s first season was a breakout hit for the network and is getting serious Emmy buzz. So if you want to talk about a game-changer like this, who better than NBA superstar/film and TV producer LeBron James.
“In Abbott Elementary, the show she created and stars in, she uses comedy to shine a light on big issues in public education in a very real, relatable way—not to put down, but to give hope that we can do better,” he writes. “Better to support our teachers, wrap around our students and their families, and deliver the education they all deserve.”
Joining Euphoria star Zendaya in the innovators section are Amazon Labor Union organizers Chris Smalls and Derrick Palmer and African architect Francis Kéré
We already knew Zendaya was an innovator, but Dune director Denis Villeneuve sees her as an artist ahead of her time.
“She is an autonomous creative force herself. A cultural icon in the making. A person driven by pure inspiration, empathy, and respect for her craft, who uses authenticity as a new superpower,” Villeneuve writes. “She seems fearless, her roots run deep, and I love that she still laughs like a kid. Zendaya is the future. And there is nothing more comforting to me. This is only the beginning.”
Surprisingly, Oprah Winfrey is the only Black person recognized as a titan. Though, there was still room for Kris Jenner. Once again proving the endless power of Black women, the leaders category includes Tanzania President Samia Suluhu Hassan, Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley, Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson and New York Attorney General Letitia James.
Leading the icons is none other than the “Queen of Hip-Hop Soul” Mary J. Blige, Insecure star/creator Issa Rae, Grammy-winner Jon Batiste and Equality Florida LGBTQ+ advocate Nadine Smith. Rap legend Nas acknowledges how far Mary J. has come since “Real Love,” but she’s also still just our girl from around the way.
“She carved out a lane for herself, and now she can feed the people more than just music. She has a lot more to offer, from her incredible acting career to her wine brand to the Strength of a Woman festival she just launched in Atlanta,” he writes. “And I feel like she’s just getting started. She’s who we wanted her to be, and even more. She became who she’s supposed to be.”
And if we’re talking about pioneers, it has to start with Candace Parker, who messed around and got a triple-double, Questlove and NASA scientist Gregory Robinson.
This year’s list is definitely worth a look, as it features a lot of POC among the names, showing that diversity and inclusion is always more interesting.