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Simone biles

100 Most Influential People in the World for 2021, According to TIME

The TIME100 Most Influential People for 2021 has been revealed and as usual, it’s a surprisingly mixed bag of celebrities, politicians, entrepreneurs and athletes. But it was one contentious couple that stole the limelight, and not for the first time, either. Prince Harry and Megan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have snagged one of the special worldwide covers, much to the dismay of Royalists, but they weren’t alone. For the 2021 Most Influential People edition, TIME opted to release seven unique covers, each highlighting one standout entrant.

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The other celebrities and political leaders featured on the covers include gymnast Simone Biles, actor Kate Winslet, singer-songwriter Billie Eilish, director-general of the World Trade Organization Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, CEO of NVIDIA Jensen Huang and writer Cathy Park Hong. A diverse crew, to say the least, the TIME Most Influential People cover stars perfectly encapsulate the unique collection of thought-starters and industry leaders that invariably shape the edition itself.

“I find reason for optimism…in our 18th annual TIME100 list of the world’s most influential people,” Edward Felsenthal, editor-in-chief and CEO of TIME said in a statement. “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.”

As a result, this year’s list of influential people includes 10 climate leaders, a series of advocates and a wealth of ground-breaking athletes, the majority of whom are women. Fifty-four of entrants this year were female, with the youngest featured, Sunisa Lee just 18-years-old. Conversely, US President Joe Biden took home the unenviable honour of being the oldest person in the 2021 issue at 78-year-old.

Times most influential people 2021

Image: TIME

The Royal Impact

As Felsenthal puts it, all entrants in the TIME100 have challenged the status quo in some way over the past 12 months, but naturally, conjecture generally erupts following publishing. Social media has been quick to argue that while celebrities such as Kate Winslet have had great years, that’s not to say they’ve been any more or any less influential in 2021.

In the case of Harry and Meghan, TIME has dialled the controversy up even further. Irrespective of your opinion on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, the powerhouse pair continue to draw attention and placing them on the cover of one of the most long-awaited editions of the year is an exercise in good marketing. But there is merit to the madness.

Chef and humanitarian José Andrés, a two-time TIME100 honoree himself, wrote a tribute to Prince Harry and Meghan for the edition. In his piece, Andrés applauds their actions for not only prompting deep re-appraisals of British society and the monarchy’s place within it, but for ‘catalysing essential conversations on topics from mental health to misinformation’.

Katalin kariko

Katalin Kariko – Dina Litovsky/Redux

The Power of Science

Across the board, the diverse group of people share one common through – the pursuit to break through the noise, each in their own unique way. Nowhere more so than in the realm of science, where advances in modern medicine have helped steer the world through some of the most challenging economic and psychological burdens of our time.

Biochemist and Nobel laureate Jennifer Doudna writes in the TIME100 that all of us who received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines owe an enormous debt to Katalin Kariko. The Hungarian scientist spent decades defying sceptics in pursuit of mRNA as a tool to fight disease and has been recognised this year.

So too were other advocates, such as European scientists Friederike Otto and Geert Jan van Oldenborgh who unearthed the role that global warming plays in extreme weather, environmental activist Phyllis Omido, whose work made possible a landmark settlement for lead-poisoning victims in Kenya, and General Motors CEO Mary Barra, who this year announced the company would phase out gas-powered cars by 2035.

Naomi osaka highest paid olympians 2021

Naomi Osaka

More Than an Entertainer

In a year when the Olympics finally went ahead, the world of sport played an important role in shaping the cultural discourse. Athletes like Noami Osaka and Simone Biles were lauded for their representation and honesty surrounding the struggles of mental health while Tom Brady and Allyson Felix received recognition for their continued domination on and off the track.

TIME’s 100 Most Influential People 2021

From gold-medallists to Grammy Award-winning musicians, the TIME100 is a snapshot of the world’s most influential people over the last 12 months. The edition is split into six sections: Icons, Titans, Artists, Leaders, Pioneers and Innovators. Here are the 100 most influential people in the world for 2021, as outlined by TIME Magazine.

Britney spears

Icons

  • Prince Harry & Meghan, The Duke & Duchess of Sussex
  • Naomi Osaka
  • Alexei Navalny
  • Britney Spears
  • Sherrilyn Ifill
  • Dolly Parton
  • Shohei Ohtani
  • Cathy Park Hong
  • Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara
  • Nasrin Sotoudeh
  • Manjusha P. Kulkarni, Russell Jeung, & Cynthia Choi
  • Muna El-Kurd & Mohammed El-Kurd

Simone biles 1

Titans

  • Simone Biles
  • Tim Cook
  • Shonda Rhimes
  • Timbaland & Swizz Beatz
  • Nikole Hannah-Jones
  • Tom Brady
  • Youn Yuh Jung
  • Allyson Felix
  • Angélique Kidjo
  • Kenneth C. Frazier & Kenneth I. Chenault
  • Luiza Trajano

Billie eilish

Pioneers

  • Billie Eilish
  • Ben Crump
  • Adi Utarini
  • Sunisa Lee
  • Felwine Sarr & Bénédicte Savoy
  • Fatih Birol
  • Aurora James
  • Adar Poonawalla
  • Phyllis Omido
  • Frans Timmermans
  • Indyra Mendoza & Claudia Spellmant
  • Roger Cox
  • Olimpia Coral Melo Cruz
  • Dorottya Redai
  • Esther Ze Naw Bamvo & Ei Thinzar Maung

Kate winslet

Artists

  • Kate Winslet
  • Bad Bunny
  • Chloé Zhao
  • Jason Sudeikis
  • Scarlett Johansson
  • Lil Nas X
  • Jessica B. Harris
  • Bowen Yang
  • Tracee Ellis Ross
  • Mark Bradford
  • N.K. Jemisin
  • Steven Yeun
  • Daniel Kaluuya
  • Omar Sy
  • Barbara Kruger
  • Kane Brown
Oshua roberts reuters

Image: Joshua Roberts/Reuters

Leaders

  • Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
  • Joe Biden
  • Xi Jinping
  • Liz Cheney
  • Kamala Harris
  • Mario Draghi
  • Tucker Carlson
  • Naftali Bennett
  • Stacey Abrams
  • Nayib Bukele
  • Donald Trump
  • Narendra Modi
  • Mahbouba Seraj
  • Joe Manchin
  • Ebrahim Raisi
  • Rochelle Walensky
  • Mamata Banerjee
  • Ron Klain
  • Elisa Loncon Antileo
  • Abdul Ghani Baradar

Jensen huang

Innovators

  • Jensen Huang
  • Elon Musk
  • Adrienne Banfield Norris, Willow Smith, & Jada Pinkett Smith
  • Katalin Kariko
  • Mary Barra
  • John Nkengasong
  • MiMi Aung
  • Vitalik Buterin
  • Viya
  • Barney Graham
  • Friederike Otto & Geert Jan van Oldenborgh
  • Kengo Kuma
  • Sara Menker
  • Lidia Morawska

Each entrant in TIME’s Most Influential People 2021 has received a written entrant from an esteemed colleague or contributor. You can view the whole list, along with each entrant via the link below.

Check it out

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General FAQs

Who is the most influential person of 2021?

According to TIME Magazine, the most influential person of 2021 was Prince Harry & Meghan Markle. The Duke & Duchess of Sussex were published on the front cover of the long-awaited issue, with further front covers also belonging to gymnast Simone Biles, actor Kate Winslet, singer-songwriter Billie Eilish, director-general of the World Trade Organization Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, CEO of NVIDIA Jensen Huang and writer Cathy Park Hong.

Who was on the cover of TIME Magazine’s Most Influential Person 2021?

There were several cover editions of TIME Magazine’s Most Influential Person 2021 edition. These included Prince Harry & Meghan Markle. The Duke & Duchess of Sussex, gymnast Simone Biles, actor Kate Winslet, singer-songwriter Billie Eilish, director-general of the World Trade Organization Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, CEO of NVIDIA Jensen Huang and writer Cathy Park Hong.

Who is the most influential person of all time?

According to the 1978 book The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History by Michael H. Hart. the most influential person of all time is Muhammad. The Arab religious, social, and political leader was the founder of the world religion of Islam.

About the author

About the author
DIGITAL EDITOR

Nick Hall

Nick Hall is the Digital Editor of Man of Many and an accomplished journalist. He completed a Bachelor of Creative Industries at the Queensland University of Technology, with a double major in Journalism and Music. Prior to working at Man of Many, Nick spent two years as a journalist with Inside Franchise Business, focusing on small business, finance and legal reporting. In 2021, Nick was named B&T's Best of the Best Journalist of the Year. With an extensive background in the media industry, Nick specialises in feature writing, fashion, lifestyle and entertainment content. A qualified barber and men's stylist, Nick also holds a Cert III in Barbering from the Queensland Hairdressing Academy.