Time Magazine’s Most Influential People Of 2019–Ranked
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Every year, Time magazine publishes its 100 Most Influential People list, a collection of pioneers, artists, icons, titans and leaders who have had a big impact on the world over the last 12 months.
The list isn’t ranked by Time, but it is on Ranker, where visitors can vote up the people they think are most deserving of the accolade. Read on for the current top 40 on Ranker based on over 17,000 votes — but bear in mind that people are voting all the time, so the list — which was compiled from data on June 5, 2019 — is always changing and might not be exactly what you see here.
40. Caster Semenya
World champion middle-distance runner Caster Semenya comes under the “icons” category on the Time list, and it’s clear to see why. Yes, the South African is one of the best athletes of all time, but as someone who identifies as a woman but has testosterone levels higher than the average female, she’s also a role model for anyone who’s different than the “norm,” and a crucial voice in the conversation about biological sex.
“Caster Semenya has taught us that sex isn’t always binary, and caused us to question the justness of distributing societal benefits according to ‘male’ and ‘female’ classifications,” Olympic gold medalist Edwin Moses wrote for Time.
39. Greta Thunberg
The world needs more kids like Greta Thunberg. Actually, the world needs more adults like Greta Thunberg. The Swedish schoolgirl. one of the most prominent — and inspirational — climate activists of today, planned a number of student protests against climate change, lighting a fire in the bellies of her peers and calling out the millions of adults who sit back and do nothing. She’s now in the running for a Nobel Peace Prize.
“Climate change is our reality, and youth activists like Greta are doing everything within their power to work against it, and demand a change,” Emma González, March for Our Lives co-founder, wrote for Time.
38. Bob Iger
One of the “titans” on the Time list, businessman Bob Iger is best known for turning The Walt Disney Company into one of the most innovative of the 21st century. With Iger holding the reins, Disney acquired Pixar and 21st Century Fox and can claim 11 of the 20 biggest movies of all time.
“Bob has a legendary work ethic, just like Walt did,” former New York City mayor Michael R. Bloomberg wrote for Time.
37. Alex Morgan
Hopes are high for Team USA as they go into the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and Alex Morgan is their star player. The Olympic gold medalist, a forward for the Portland Thorns FC of the National Women’s Soccer League, is at the top of her game. Off the field, she’s an advocate for gender equality in soccer — both in terms of pay and support.
“As the mother of 12-year-old twin daughters, I fully understand the impact that Alex makes on this next generation of young girls,” FIFA Women’s World Cup champion Mia Hamm wrote for Time. “Her commitment to set such a positive example for them is unmatched, and I am incredibly grateful that the future of our game is in such good hands.”
36. Mohamed Salah
Egyptian professional footballer Mohamed Salah is one of the best in the world. Currently a forward for English Premier League club (and 2019 Champions League winners) Liverpool FC, he’s set to be the subject of a bidding war as other clubs scramble to secure his legendary dribbling and finishing skills. Above all that, he’s known as a genuinely humble, gracious man.
“You’d be hard-pressed to find a professional athlete in any sport less affected by their success or status than Mo, which is incredible because I can’t imagine the kind of pressure that comes with the intensity of adoration he receives,” TV host John Oliver wrote for Time.
35. Jacinda Ardern
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s speech at the memorial service for the victims of the Christchurch terror attack will go down in history as one of the best. By immediately committing to stricter gun control (and following through on it), she raised the bar for world leaders.
34. Richard Madden
Scottish actor Richard Madden is hot property in Hollywood right now. He catapulted to international fame as Robb Stark in “Game of Thrones,” which earned him a Screen International Award for Star of Tomorrow, and won a Golden Globe for his role in the British TV drama series “Bodyguard.” His current project is “Rocketman,” in which he plays Elton John’s manager and onetime lover John Reid.
“Richard Madden has a rigor and a discipline in his work that makes him a very tough self-critic. In fact, he’s much tougher on himself than anyone else is. In him, this is an asset,” director and actor Kenneth Branagh wrote for Time.
33. Juan Guaidó
As head of the National Assembly and acting president of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó has proved himself to be a bold, dynamic figure worthy of the emotional investment of a nation desperate to find peace amid a spiraling political crisis.
“Guaidó must use his courage to get control of the transition process once and for all and, avoiding a bloodbath at all costs, negotiate with the relevant stakeholders a peaceful way out— a golden bridge — for the regime,” Nobel Peace Prize winner Juan Manuel Santos wrote for Time.
American singer and songwriter Khalid wants to make a difference with his music; the title of his song “1-800-273-8255” is the phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and its lyrics focus on mental health issues. By perfectly articulating what it’s like to be a young adult today, he’s earned the “voice of a generation” tag and is unlikely to shake it off any time soon.
“Khalid is totally unique. He’s a beautiful writer with the ability to take human concepts and make you understand and feel them,” musician Alicia Keys wrote for Time.
31. Naomi Osaka
Tennis player Naomi Osaka, the current top seed, is the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam singles tournament (when she defeated Serena Williams in the final of the 2018 U.S. Open). While some people are concerned about the Osaka’s identity (she is of Haitian and Japanese heritage and has dual American and Japanese citizenship), she challenges perceptions — and misconceptions — by simply being herself.
“No one represents our more globalized, multicultural future better than this honest, polite, self-deprecating tennis life force, a potential champion for years to come,” former tennis champion Chris Evert wrote for Time.
30. Mahershala Ali
Acclaimed actor Mahershala Ali (born Mahershalalhashbaz Ali) was Juan in “Moonlight,” Remy Danton in “House of Cards,” Colonel Boggs in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1,” Colonel Jim Johnson in “Hidden Figures” and Dr. Donald Shirley in “Green Book.”
“I was astounded by the way he navigated scenes but never compromised Dr. Shirley’s complexity,” Ali’s “Green Book” co-star Octavia Spencer wrote for Time. “Dr. Shirley was regal, eloquent, elegant and vulnerable. Mahershala was a perfect choice to play him because he embodies all of those characteristics.”
29. Christine Blasey Ford
Professor of psychology Dr. Christine Blasey Ford became a household name when she publicly alleged that then-U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers. Her testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee didn’t change the outcome for Kavanaugh — he’s now an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court — but it did encourage victims of abuse to speak out, no matter how powerful the abuser is.
“At her core, she is a teacher. And through her courage, she forced the country to reckon with an issue that has too often been ignored and kept in the dark,” Senator Kamala Harris wrote for Time.
28. Mitch McConnell
Mitch McConnell is longtime Republican U.S. Senator who was named Senate majority leader in 2014.
“His steady hand at the tiller of the U.S. Senate has been a source of stability for our economy and certainty in our tumultuous political process,” John Boehner, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, wrote for Time. “With his mastery of parliamentary procedure and commitment to principled democratic governance, he has shaped the direction of the Supreme Court for generations to come.”
BTS are to 2019 what the Beatles were to 1964. But the record-breaking seven-member South Korean super-group are doing it their way: Most of their songs are in Korean, and they only have one fluent English speaker among them. They have global appeal, but they’re K-pop through and through.
“For BTS, world domination is just another 8-count in the contemporary dance of life. But if you think that’s easy, you haven’t seen the love and effort these young men put into each and every step,” musician Halsey wrote for Time.
26. Glenn Close
Regarded as one of the finest, most versatile actors of her generation, Glenn Close has won three Emmy Awards, three Tony Awards and received six Academy Award nominations. Among her many notable performances are “The Big Chill” (1983), “Fatal Attraction” (1987), “The Paper” (1994) and “The Wife” (2017).
“Glenn is a major talent, an actor who is deeply committed to her craft. She doesn’t play roles as much as she transforms herself into them, never allowing her own personality or celebrity to get in the way,” actor Robert Redford wrote for Time.
25. Regina King
Regina King isn’t just a talented TV and film actor; she’s a director, producer and trailblazer for women of color. In May 2019, two months after winning the Academy Award for best-supporting actress for her performance in “If Beale Street Could Talk,” she signed a first-look, multi-year deal with Netflix to produce both films and series for the streaming platform.
“I think she’s excited for her growth as an actor but also the other side: being a director, being a leader, having a production company,” actor Viola Davis wrote for Time. “Because that changes the game: The power of what’s on the page is going to change how people of color and women are seen in the business.”
24. William Barr
Now in his second stint as Attorney General, William Barr has many other strings to his bow. He served in the CIA and has been executive vice president and general counsel of telecommunications giant Verizon since 2000.
“A brilliant and principled conservative lawyer, Barr brings unique experience to the challenge of working at the intersection of law and politics,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wrote for Time.
23. Spike Lee
Not many people have a movie resume like Spike Lee’s. The director, producer, writer and actor has received two Academy Award nominations and won a slew of other awards, including the 2013 Gish Prize “for his brilliance and unwavering courage in using film to challenge conventional thinking.”
“The common thread across his career may be his impeccable timing — his ability to understand the cultural landscape of the moment and deliver a spot-on message,” actor, director, producer and Oscar-winning writer Jordan Peele wrote for Time.
22. Chip And Joanna Gaines
Not only do Chip and Joanna Gaines have five kids, they operate a remodeling and design business, and run their own TV network. The husband-and-wife power team have always maintained a “giving back” ethos throughout their work, such as when they built an accessible home for a family with two children in wheelchairs on “Fixer Upper.”
“They are also grounded in a strong faith, which keeps them focused on what truly matters in life. People matter. Loving people matters. And Jo and Chip are amazing at loving people,” former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow wrote for Time.
21. Tiger Woods
One of the highest-paid and most celebrated athletes in the world for many years, golf champ Tiger Woods is no stranger to controversy and setback, but he also knows how to make an outstanding comeback. In April 2019, Woods won his 15th career major (his first in 11 years) and his fifth Masters title in Augusta, Georgia.
“Over the past few years, Tiger rehabbed rigorously from all the surgeries, and returned to the top of the game. While pundits doubted he’d ever win again, Tiger’s commitment never wavered,” musician and actor Justin Timberlake wrote for Time.
20. Ariana Grande
If Ariana Grande’s not the biggest music artist in the world, she’s definitely in the running. She recently released not one but two critically acclaimed, record-breaking albums just a few months apart (“Sweetener” in August 2018 followed by “thank u, next” in February 2019) and won the hearts of the British people for the sensitive, wholehearted way she responded to the deaths of 22 people in a bomb attack at her gig at England’s Manchester Arena.
“Ari is breaking the rules and is a force who understands how music should work in 2019,” singer-songwriter Troye Sivan wrote for Time. “Her love of her fans and of music guide her every move.”
19. Brett Kavanaugh
The name Brett Kavanaugh may be known around the world for reasons that have little to do with his legal qualifications, but he held the highly respected position of federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit and he is now an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
On the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing where Christine Blasey Ford testified that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her in 1982, wrote Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell for Time: “The country saw his resilience and commitment to public service. We saw his loyal devotion to family and friends. We saw his undeterred reverence for the law, for precedents and for our nation’s highest traditions.”
18. Taylor Swift
Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift‘s dedication to her art was evident from a young age; she moved to Nashville at age 14 to pursue a career in country music. She’s a record-breaking, award-winning global sensation, but she still goes above and beyond for her fans, from giving them love on Tumblr to inviting them to her own home for private previews of her new album.
“Taylor makes anyone older feel young again and anyone young feel they can do anything. It’s so rare and so special. If there is one thing I want to achieve in my career and life, it’s that,” musician Shawn Mendes wrote for Time.
17. Mark Zuckerberg
Digital entrepreneur Mark Zuckerberg, who co-founded Facebook out of his dorm room at Harvard, is one of the world’s youngest billionaires. In 2010 he donated $100 million to save the failing Newark Public Schools system in New Jersey; later that year he was named Time’s Person of the Year.
“Mark may have changed the world more than any living person, so it’s surprising how little success has changed him. He is still the slightly shy, affable person I met 15 years ago,” entrepreneur Sean Parker, who was the founding president of Facebook, wrote for Time.
16. LeBron James
Regularly ranked as the number one basketball player in the world, LeBron James is also a hugely successful businessman and media mogul. He uses his platform to try to make a positive change in the lives of disadvantaged kids, primarily through his I Promise School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.
“People in LeBron’s position get tugged in different directions and have a lot of chances to make bad decisions. He’s kept his head, and that’s not easy,” Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, wrote for Time. “As great as he has been so far — on and off the court — you’re just seeing the start of LeBron.”
15. Nancy Pelosi
Second in the presidential line of succession (after the vice president) Nancy Pelosi is the only woman to have served as speaker of the United States House of Representatives and is the highest-ranking elected woman in United States history.
“There’s a saying that goes: ‘If you want something done, ask a busy woman to do it.’ Speaker Nancy Pelosi is living proof that when it comes to getting the job done, more often than not, it takes a woman,” former Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton wrote for Time.
14. Sandra Oh
Canadian actor Sandra Oh earned Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards for playing Dr. Cristina Yang in “Grey’s Anatomy.” She recently added several more awards to her collection for her role as Eve Polastri in season one of “Killing Eve,” and was the first person of Asian descent to be nominated for the Emmy award for lead actress in a drama in the TV awards show’s 70-year run.
“With her nuanced characters, Sandra Oh has chosen to fearlessly take up space in a universe that has not always made space for her. Now, the power of her talented presence makes space for others. And that is a gift to every artist of color who follows in her footsteps,” showrunner, producer and screenwriter Shonda Rhimes wrote for Time.
13. Brie Larson
Brie Larson is smashing stereotypes on the big screen as Captain Marvel in Marvel Studios’ first female-led superhero movie — a role she described as “my form of activism.” Off-screen, she deals with the inevitable sexism with dignity, openness and action — she took the necessary steps to make her press days more inclusive after noticing that “it appeared to be overwhelmingly white males.”
“Brie is primed to be one of Marvel’s next big leaders at a time when women are breaking ceilings in all spaces. She is in a position to make real systemic change in Hollywood. I’m elated to see someone so pure of intention wield that power,” actor Tessa Thompson wrote for Time.
12. Robert Mueller
With military, private practice and government roles behind him, Robert Mueller really made his mark as the Special Counsel of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections.
“Soldier, prosecutor, FBI director, and when our country needed someone to untangle Russian election interference, he served again,” former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates wrote for Time. “Taking daily incoming fire, he neither flinched nor retaliated. He just did his job. For Mueller, it’s always about the work, and never about him.”
11. Xi Jinping
As the President of China, Xi Jinping is the leader of the world’s most populated country and its second-largest economy. He’s responsible for the slogan “China Dream,” which has penetrated every facet of Chinese society, from the “dream walls” in schools and universities to inspire students to write their own dreams on the wall, to the number one folk band singing about making China the world’s most powerful nation.
“He will be remembered as the first Chinese President to use a blend of soft and hard power to boost China’s international image and begin its expeditionary ambitions,” Jon Huntsman, the U.S. ambassador to Russia and former U.S. ambassador to China, wrote for Time. “China’s movement toward center stage has run in parallel with Xi’s personal brand — a modern Son of Heaven recapturing China’s pre-eminence. He has made himself indispensable.”
10. Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, the current Prime Minister of Israel, is an astute politician (described as a “magician” by supporters) who has won a record five elections and is widely accepted as the person best equipped to protect Israel in the face of hostile Middle Eastern threats.
“Bibi certainly deserves his share of credit for Israel’s strength, but persuading Israelis that he alone could achieve it is his true political accomplishment,” columnist David French wrote for Time.
9. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Too many politicians talk the talk without having walked the walk. But not Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (often referred to as AOC). The U.S. Representative for New York’s 14th congressional district (a position she holds following what has been described as the biggest upset victory in the 2018 midterm election season) has experienced firsthand what it’s like to live with the social and financial challenges that many of her constituents face.
“She reminds all of us that even while greed and corruption slow our progress, even while armies of lobbyists swarm Washington, in our democracy, true power still rests with the people,” Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote for Time. “And she’s just getting started.”
8. Rami Malek
Before he won the best actor Oscar for his portrayal of musician Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody” (the first actor of Arab heritage to do so), Rami Malek was best known for his lead role as Elliot Anderson in the TV series “Mr. Robot.”
“He’s understated and kind, complicated and relatable; he’s downright mercurial. Crucially, he’s a good man evolving alongside his potential. As a fan and friend, that’s what I’m particularly proud of,” actor Robert Downey Jr. wrote for Time.
7. Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga‘s singular, stirring voice, truly unique personal style and dedication to standing up for what she believes combine to make her not only one of the best-selling music artists in history but also an inimitable pop culture legend.
“Yes, she’s an amazing musician, composer, performer and, as we saw in ‘A Star Is Born,’ an incredible actress, but her legacy reaches well beyond show business. She will continue to inspire love and freedom around the world, for generations to come,” singer Celine Dion wrote for Time.
6. Emilia Clarke
Before Emilia Clarke shot to global stardom as the Mother of Dragons Daenerys Targaryen on “Game of Thrones,” she was working for a catering company between small acting jobs on U.K. television. Ten years later, she’s an A-list actor, has survived two brain aneurysms and set up a charity called SameYou to help people recovering from brain injuries and stroke get treatment and support.
“She has the courage of a small lion, the stamina of a Welsh pit pony and the soul of a clown,” actor and writer Emma Thompson wrote for Time. “A powerhouse to watch and an ally to die for.”
5. Pope Francis
Pope Francis, the Pope of the Catholic Church, was ordained a priest in 1969. In May 2019, he passed a law to make it mandatory for Roman Catholic clergy to report cases of clerical sexual abuse and cover-ups to the Church, sending a clear message to the Church hierarchy that nobody is exempt from scrutiny.
“With great courage and wisdom, Pope Francis has invited all of us in the Church to approach the immense suffering of victims with the same reverence as we would approach the suffering body of Christ,” Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna wrote for Time.
4. Donald Trump
Like him or loathe him, President Trump makes things happen — such as the first-ever meeting between leaders of North Korea and the United States. Despite initially warning of “fire and fury” against North Korea, he has since claimed to have “fallen in love” with its Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-un.
“President Trump deserves great credit for daring to try to personally persuade Chairman Kim to join the family of nations,” Chris Christie, former Republican governor of New Jersey, wrote for Time. “This approach holds the possibility for history-making changes on the Korean Peninsula to make us all safer.”
3. Jane Goodall
Best known for her 55-year study of wild chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania, which has rightly earned her the unofficial title of the world’s premier chimp expert, primatologist and anthropologist Dame Jane Morris Goodall, DBE has inspired scientists, activists and advocates for climate change around the world.
“Anyone who has heard her speak, or heard her story, has been mesmerized by her life’s work and moved by her philanthropic legacy,” actor Leonardo DiCaprio wrote for Time.
2. Michelle Obama
Princeton University and Harvard Law School graduate Michelle Obama was the first African-American First Lady — a position she used to make the world a better place. Her Reach Higher Initiative encourages young people to complete their education past high school; she launched Let Girls Learn to help girls around the world go to school — and stay there.
“I am so grateful that my daughters and my son live in a world where Michelle Obama shines as a beacon of hope who inspires all of us to do better and to be better,” musician Beyoncé Knowles-Carter wrote for Time.
1. Dwayne Johnson
The fact that Dwayne Johnson will always be known to many as “The Rock” suggests that his spell as a professional wrestler is what he’ll be remembered for. But he’s also the highest-paid actor in Forbes magazine’s 20-year history and an outspoken voice on mental health issues. And, according to his co-stars and colleagues, he’s an all-around great guy, too.
“He is the true embodiment of the idea that people may forget what you said, people may forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” actor Gal Gadot wrote for Time. “Dwayne always makes sure people feel their best when he is around.”