As they do every year, TIME has just unveiled its Top 100 list, honoring the most influential people in the world, the pioneers, leaders, titans, artists and icons. While last year saw Chance the Rapper, Donald Glover, and Alicia Keys make the cut, there’s a new crew receiving recognition this year. With essays written by their peers, the figures’ most inspiring qualities are given a spotlight. Read excerpts below and see the full list here.

CARDI B by Taraji P. Henson

She’s clear on her talent, and she’s not trying to get in anybody else’s lane. She recorded “Bodak Yellow” because it’s what she loved. Now she’s the biggest thing in music. And even with all those eyeballs watching, she’s still unapologetically herself.

RIHANNA by Adele

Whenever I’ve met her, she’s been the most gracious, loyal and funny goofball of an icon. She glows like when someone’s taken a picture with a flash and you’re dazed for a few minutes after. But it’s also very clear in that glow that she genuinely doesn’t give a f-ck; she’s fearless and full of all the right kind of attitude to be everything that she is and will be forever.


Now Tiffany is bringing a whole new level of fresh to the comedy scene. She’s just so authentic and unfiltered. You never know what’s going to come out of her mouth. And you can tell she’s having fun—she’s seen a time when things couldn’t get any worse, and she’s giving it all she has.

ISSA RAE by Mindy Kaling

I watched the entire first season of Insecure in two days. I loved her world, her friends, her clothes, her handsome love interests and her anxieties. Maybe especially her anxieties, because those are what make her so lovable. Only Issa Rae could make the adjectives awkward and insecure chic. That’s an impossible thing to do.

CHADWICK BOSEMAN by Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs

Now as the Black Panther, he’s inspiring everyone, but especially black youth, who deserve to see superheroes like them, to show them that truly anyone can be a superhero; this matters, because it has been a long time coming to see our own superheroes and the power that they can have on all of us in society.

VIRGIL ABLOH by Takashi Murakami

His fashion label, Off-White, is not a passing trend; rather, it shows how Virgil’s young followers, with their unclouded eyes, have been seeing right into the core of his creativity all along. With his appointment as artistic director for Louis Vuitton’s menswear, his full merit will be understood even more widely around the globe.

RYAN COOGLER by Ava Duvernay

At only 31, what other stories will he tell us? And aren’t we lucky to be able to watch. Not just his films. But such an exquisite life being well lived. If you ever need a reminder that this present moment is your time too, look no further than Ryan for inspiration. He’s easy to find. He’s the one with the light around him, shining strong and bright and warm.

JENNIFER LOPEZ by Kerry Washington

As a kid growing up in the Bronx, I used to watch Jennifer Lopez from the wings. Several of us girls would hide in the folds of the curtains at the Boys & Girls Club to watch her perform. We were in awe of our neighborhood role model and phenom. When Jennifer left the Bronx to pursue her dreams, I would rush to finish my homework on Sunday to watch her on In Living Color. She made me believe that you could come from where we came from and achieve whatever you imagine is possible.

LENA WAITHE by Kamala Harris

No wonder a recent Vanity Fair cover story—the first featuring an openly queer black woman—called her someone who’s “disrupting the hell out of Hollywood.” Thanks to Waithe, diverse communities can turn on the TV and see vivid, funny, deeply real portrayals of people like themselves. And that’s empowering—whether you’re a student or a Senator. As Waithe said in her Emmy acceptance speech, “The things that make us different, those are our superpowers.” Because of her, millions of Americans have donned their capes.