Whether you love them, hate them or wonder what all the fuss about, the Sussex effect isn’t fading anytime soon. On Wednesday, Prince Harry (who turns 37 today) and Meghan were called ‘icons’ as they were announced as one of seven covers celebrating the 2021 TIME100. The other six covers feature Simone Biles, Kate Winslet, Billie Eilish, CEO of NVIDIA Jensen Huang, writer Cathy Park Hong, and director-general of the World Trade Organization Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (above right).
“I find reason for optimism...in our 18th annual TIME100 list of the world’s most influential people,” wrote Time CEO and Editor-in-Chief Edward Felsenthal in his editor’s letter. “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.
“At TIME, we see the TIME100 as far more than a list,” Felsenthal continued. “It is a community of leaders whose energy and commitment we hope inspires others to spring into action as well.”
On the oft-embattled royal couple, famed Spanish chef José Andrés wrote:
Springing into action is not the easy choice for a young duke and duchess who have been blessed through birth and talent, and burned by fame. It would be much safer to enjoy their good fortune and stay silent. That’s not what Harry and Meghan do, or who they are...In a world where everyone has an opinion about people they don’t know, the duke and duchess have compassion for the people they don’t know. They don’t just opine. They run toward the struggle.
As an example of how one good turn leads to another, in addition to making the list a second time, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex also penned the issue’s tribute to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, writing:
As the first African and first woman to lead the World Trade Organization…Okonjo-Iweala took on the role of director-general this March at a watershed moment for our global health and well-being...Okonjo-Iweala has shown us that to end the pandemic, we must work together to equip every nation with equitable vaccine access. Our conversations with her have been as informative as they are energizing. This is partly because, despite the challenges, she knows how to get things done—even between those who don’t always agree—and does so with grace and a smile that warms the coldest of rooms.
While Time’s list highlights what it considers to be “the 100 most influential people in the world,” you know The Root is here to highlight everyone Black (though among many the list’s more worthy shoutouts, one is also definitely due to the founders of StopAAPIHate). In addition to Meghan, Simone and Okonjo-Iweala, the Black notables on this year’s list include (in alphabetical order):
Stacey Abrams; artist Mark Bradford; country singer-songwriter Kane Brown; Kenneth I. Chenault and Kenneth C. Frazier, co-founders of OneTen; attorney Ben Crump; Olympic track and field record holder Allyson Felix; journalist and 1619 Project creator Nikole Hannah-Jones; culinary historian Jessica B. Harris; Vice President Kamala Harris; President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Sherrilyn Ifill; Lil Nas X; fashion designer and 15 Percent Pledge founder Aurora James; N.K. Jemisin; Daniel Kaluuya; Angélique Kidjo; Sara Menker, CEO of Gro Intelligence; Cameroonian virologist John Nkengasong; Kenyan environmental activist Phyllis Omido; Naomi Osaka; Cuban artist-activist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara; Shonda Rhimes; Tracee Ellis Ross; Felwine Sarr, researcher and co-author of the report on the Restitution of African Cultural Heritage with fellow honoree Bénédicte Savoy; Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith and Adrienne Banfield Norris, hosts of Red Table Talk; French actor Omar Sy; Verzuz music producers Swizz Beatz and Timbaland.
If you’re counting (and you know we did), that’s 33 exemplars of Black excellence on Time’s list—but what did fellow notables have to say about this year’s honorees? Tributes are penned by Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner (on Ben Crump); Serena Williams (on Simone Biles); Megan Thee Stallion (on Billie Eilish); Tiffany Haddish (on the women of Red Table Talk); Stacey Abrams (on N.K. Jemisin); Edward Enninful (on Aurora James); Alicia Keys (on Angélique Kidjo), among others—including Russell Wilson, who lauds Naomi Osaka.
“Naomi Osaka’s humility and dedication to others has been spectacular to watch. It’s incredibly meaningful that she has been able to talk honestly about struggling with her mental health and share with us her vulnerability,” he writes. ‘We all have the capacity to make a difference. But sometimes, someone’s sphere of influence is so great, they can change a culture, change a society, change a whole world. Naomi Osaka has the power to do that.”
Granted, unlike The Root 100 (coming soon), not all those who make Time’s list have effected positive cultural, societal or global change. Case in point: Donald Trump ,who once again makes annual the list, this time with an excoriating assessment of his continued influence and “assault” on American governance by Nancy Gibbs. However, our current commander-in-chief Joe Biden also makes the list, with the distinction of being its oldest honoree at age 78.
In addition to the highly anticipated issue, a press release from Time tells us that “for the second year in a row, Time Studios and ABC will bring the annual TIME100 list of the world’s most influential people to life with a special primetime television event, ‘TIME100,’ airing Monday, Sept. 20 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EDT), on ABC. Created by the Emmy Award-winning TIME Studios, the special “offers an inside look at the pioneers, artists, leaders, icons, titans and innovators comprising the 2021 list, along with special performances and surprise appearances,” the release adds.
The September 27th double issue of Time goes on sale on this Friday, September 17. The full 2021 TIME100 list—including tributes, videos and photos is available now at Time.com.