ACTORS can be anything—they can be artists, pioneers and icons. Three of today’s biggest celebrities: Viola Davis, John Legend and Riz Ahmed each have a cover on Time magazine’s annual list of The 100 Most Influential People.
But they weren’t voted the most influential. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte won the vote by a landslide. Even that didn’t get him the honor of being on the cover. For years, the most influential person took the cover of Time’s most influential issue, but the publication changed the format last year.
The 2017 list had five different covers: Davis, Legend, Ahmed, philanthropist Melinda Gates and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. They represent the five categories that divide the 100 most influential people: icons, artists, pioneers, leaders and titans.
“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,” wrote Meryl Streep for Time magazine.
The How to Get Away with Murder actress became an icon for being the only black actress to have been nominated for an Oscar three times—she won one last February for Best Supporting Actress in Fences, the first black actress to win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series and the only black actor to have won the Triple Crown of Acting. The “triple crown” refers to the Oscar, Emmy and Tony.
It was just fitting that Streep, another icon, wrote the article about Davis. The two starred together in the critically acclaimed film Doubt in 1998. When Streep received the Cecil B. Demille Award at the 2017 Golden Globes last January, Davis delivered a heartfelt speech to introduce her friend.
Other celebrities that joined Davis in the icons list are model Ashley Graham, whose piece was written by Tyra Banks; drag queen and television host RuPaul, whose piece was written by Naomi Campbell, and Fan Bingbing, whom designer Diane von Furstenberg described as a woman who knows her strength.
Duterte is not the only Filipino who made the list.
Senator Leila de Lima joins Davis in the icons list. Former US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power wrote of de Lima: “It is a disturbing testament to the current solidarity among strongmen and the global surge in impunity that de Lima’s cause has not been more embraced. And yet, even from prison, she continues to speak out against her President.”
Two athletes also made it to the icons list: gymnast Simon Biles, whose piece was written by comedienne Leslie Jones, and footballer (or soccer player) Neymar Jr., whom David Beckham described as “a once-in-a-generation type of footballer who has fans on their feet whenever he gets the ball.”
Completing the icons list are Cindy Sherman, John Lewis, Margaret Atwood, Colin Kaepernick, Jeanette Vizguerra, Raf Simons, Biram Dah Abeid, David Adjaye, Gretchen Carlson, Fatou Bensouda, Thelma Aldana, Raed Saleh and Cindy Arlette Contreras Bautista.
On the pioneers list, Ahmed, star of the HBO hit The Night Of and last December’s Star Wars: Rogue One, takes the cover. Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote (or rapped) about Ahmed: “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.”
Also on the pioneers list are Samantha Bee, talk show host and US President Donald Trump critic; rapper Chance the Rapper, who received great words from Common; outspoken Fresh Off the Boat actress Constance Wu, who actress Lena Dunham said has a “passion for change”; and Jordan Peele, an actor and new director.
First daughter Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner are on the list, too.
Completing the list are Gavin Grimm, Kirsten Green, Bob Ferguson, Demis Hassabis, Barbara Lynch, Hamdi Ulukaya, Celina Turchi, Glenda Gray, Yuriko Koike, Conor McGregor, Guus Velders, founders of the women’s march: Tamika Mallory, Bob Bland, Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour, and astronomers Natalie Batalha, Guillem Anglada-Escudé and Michaël Gillon.
the artists category. His fellow singers Ed Sheeran, Alicia Keys and Demi Lovato also made the list.
Sheeran’s best friend Taylor Swift wrote: “Congratulations to my friend Ed, for the legacy you’ve already built and the brilliant hook you probably just came up with five minutes ago.”
Actors on the artists list are Oscar-winner Emma Stone with an assist from fellow Oscar-winner Brie Larson; Ryan Reynolds with words from Helen Mirren; Donald Glover, who received compliments from comedienne Tina Fey; Leslie Jones, who had an unusual writing partner Russell Crowe who called her a tiger, a lioness, a pussycat; Margot Robbie, who had to great director Martin Scorsese to write about her; Sarah Paulson with an assist from Ocean’s Eight co-star Cate Blanchett and James Corden, with words from Elton John.
Completing the list are directors Ava DuVernay and Barry Jenkins, novelist Colson Whitehead, designer Alessandro Michele and painter Kerry James Marshall.
Oprah Winfrey wrote about Whitehead, tennis star Venus Williams about DuVernay, director Kathryn Bigelow about Jenkins, Jared Leto about Michele and baller Grant Hill about Marshall.
On the Titans list with Bezos, whose article was written by astronaut Buzz Aldrin, are economist Janet Yellen, baller LeBron James, Spotify founder Daniel Ek with an assist from Sheeran, health care executive Barnard Tyson, Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel, biological engineer George Church and business executive Jean Liu.
Others on the list are American football player Tom Brady, doctor James Allison, New Zealand actress Rebekah Mercer, film producer Jason Blum, entrepreneur Vijay Shekhar Sharma and Danish politician Margrethe Vestager.
The leaders list has Gates on the cover.
Former Colombia president Cesar Garivia wrote about Duterte’s war on drugs on the magazine: “Duterte could start by treating drugs as a health, human rights and development issue. He could prosecute the most violent criminals and provide treatment for users rather than condemn them to prison, or worse. There will always be drugs in the Philippines, whether the President likes it or not. The tragedy is that many more people are likely going to die as he learns this lesson.”
Duterte is not the only controversial world leader on the list: President Trump (US), Kim Jong-un (North Korea), Vladimir Putin (Russia) and King Maha Vajiralongkorn (Thailand).
Also on the list are Chinese President Xi Jinping, British Prime Minister Theresa May, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chuck Shumer, US Senator Elizabeth Warren, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, James Comey, Reince Preibus, Tom Perez and Wang Qishan.
Completing the list are Pope Francis, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Sandra Day O’Connor, General James Mattis, Juan Manuel Santos and Major General Qasem Soleimani.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on April 22, 2017.
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