From political leaders to hip-hop playwrights, from the pope to an atheist former-Muslim comedian, Time magazine Thursday unveiled its annual list of “The 100 Most Influential People.”
In the realm of entertainment, the magazine’s editors included under “Pioneers,” one of five categories, both that playwright — Pulitzer Prize-winner Lin-Manuel Miranda (Broadway’s “Hamilton: An American Musical) — and that comedian — “Master of None” creator-star Aziz Ansari, born in South Carolina to Tamil Muslims from India. That category also gave us actress Gina Rodriguez (“Jane the Virgin”); Felix Kjellberg, aka PewDiePie, whose 43 million subscribers make him the biggest star on YouTube; and Caitlyn Jenner, who became the face of transgendered Americans.
The category “Artists” naturally includes a bevy of entertainers, including Priyanka Chopra, the Bollywood and “Quantico” star; “Empire” star Taraji P. Henson; “Veep” star Julia Louis-Dreyfus; actors Gael García Bernal, Idris Elba, Oscar Isaac and Mark Rylance; singer Ariana Grande; rapper Kendrick Lamar; comedy star Melissa McCarthy; and actress-producer Charlize Theron.
Kicked up into the not specifically defined “Titans” category is pro wrestler-actor-producer Dwayne Johnson. In his capsule encomium of Johnson, filmmaker Peter Berg envisioned him as future Florida governor and then president of the United States.
And in the “Icons” category, we have singer Adele, of whom Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence says, “We all see her success. Her undeniable talent and beauty. But what you don’t see is what a wonderful mother she is. What a wonderful partner and friend she is. That she makes her son’s Halloween costumes. Adele is a gift, an international treasure, but she’s also sweet, funny, intelligent and beautiful.”
Secretary of State John Kerry wrote that Oscar-winning actor and environment activist Leonardo DiCaprio has, since 1998, “provided grants to conservation projects in more than 44 countries. He has employed his cinematic skills — in front of the lens and behind it — to make films that document our planet’s plight. He has discussed environmental threats directly with world leaders from Vladimir Putin to Pope Francis.”
Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro admires how fellow filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu (“Birdman,” “The Revenant”) “finds the balance, perhaps because after each of his films, many filled with an almost Old Testament fury, he retreats to a place where he can find silence and renew himself after struggling with his endeavors.”
And Lil Wayne, recalling the first time he heard Nicki Minaj, says he knew instantly that “it wasn’t even about her rapping better than any female rapper. It was about, man, she’s rapping better than other rappers — period.”
President Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin were among those included in the “Leaders” category.