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The 100 Most Influential People in the World 2017

7 minute read

Our annual list of the 100 Most Influential People explores the intersection of accomplishment and renown. As in years past, this year’s list includes Presidents and Prime Ministers, CEOs and celebrities — but they are joined by others of less fame but great force, in the power of their inventions, the scale of their ambitions, the genius of their solutions to problems that no one before them could solve.

Some years the list has the feel of a loose, lively dinner party, people who mostly don’t know one another but would get along if they did. This year is a bit more complicated. These past 12 months have sharpened our edges as political debates in the U.S. and Europe, the Middle East and Asia, turned jagged and primal and seem almost perfectly designed to divide us more deeply. The list includes active opponents—not only U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un but also the Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte and his nemesis Senator Leila de Lima, whose denunciation of Duterte’s bloody crusade against drug dealers has landed her in prison. And there are several people on the list whose influence is the subject of heated debate, from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to FBI Director James Comey to White House adviser Stephen Bannon. Each has champions and critics; all are shap­ing the course of this turbulent year.

In divisive times, it’s tempting to nestle in a comfort zone, surrounded by people who look like us, think like us, pray like us, vote like us. Yet many of the men and women on this year’s list are calling us out, using the technologies that connect us to expand how we see the world. The youngest, Gavin Grimm, 17, took the risk of speaking out about the most impossibly personal subject — what bathrooms we use — in order to assert the rights of trans­gender people all the way to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the oldest, former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, 87, used her platform to create a new one, iCivics, to teach students to become active citizens; it reaches half of all middle school social-studies classrooms in the country.

Every year new themes emerge. This year, I am struck by how many people on the list — from Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard J. Tyson to singer Demi Lovato to Broadway star Ben Platt — have made mental health a special focus of their work. Likewise, the ongoing refugee crisis has inspired heroic efforts by everyone from Raed Saleh, leader of the Syrian White Helmets, to Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya, founder of the Tent initiative, to actor Riz Ahmed and singer Alicia Keys.

Some challenges are best explained by those who have shared them, so we asked Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, chief of staff to President Obama, to write about Trump’s chief, Reince Priebus. New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English writes on British PM Theresa May; and a former U.S. Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, writes about current Defense Secretary James Mattis.

In making the list, we seek counsel from the TIME 100 alumni, many of whom contributed to this issue. Common writes on Chance the Rapper, who was inspired by a phone message Common left him long ago. Tina Fey offers a tribute to Donald Glover; Meryl Streep to Viola Davis; and Sheryl Sandberg to Melinda Gates. In a typical TIME 100 chain reaction, author Colson Whitehead is on the list for his Pulitzer Prize–winning novel, The Underground Railroad, which is being adapted for TV by Moonlight director Barry Jenkins, who is both on the list and author of the profile of filmmaker Jordan Peele.

This issue was designed by Carrie Gee, with photo direction by Tara Johnson. Miles Aldridge shot the five cover portraits. The project was overseen for the first time by assistant managing editor Dan Macsai. “It’s not every day you’re working with writers like Taylor Swift, Tim Cook and Mikhail Gorbachev,” he says. “But that’s what’s so great about the TIME 100. It’s not just a list of the world’s most influential people — it’s a conversation among them.”

Watch ‘The It List: Time’s The 100 Most Influential People’ available now on People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN). Go to PEOPLE.com/PEN, or download the PEN app on streaming devices.


Barbara Lynch by Padma Lakshmi
Bob Ferguson by George Takei
Celina Turchi by Tom Frieden
Chance The Rapper by Common
Conor McGregor by Arnold Schwarzenegger
Constance Wu by Lena Dunham
Demis Hassabis by Ray Kurzweil
Gavin Grimm by Janet Mock
Glenda Gray by Alice Park
Guus Velders by Leonardo DiCaprio
Hamdi Ulukaya by Kenneth Roth
Ivanka Trump by Wendi Murdoch
Jared Kushner by Henry Kissinger
Jordan Peele by Barry Jenkins
Kirsten Green by Emily Weiss
Natalie Batalha, Guillem Anglada-Escudé and Michaël Gillon by Alan Stern
Riz Ahmed by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Samantha Bee by Jane Curtin
Tamika Mallory, Bob Bland, Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour by Kirsten Gillibrand
Yuriko Koike by Anne Hidalgo


Alessandro Michele by Jared Leto
Alicia Keys by Kerry Washington
Ava DuVernay by Venus Williams
Barry Jenkins by Kathryn Bigelow
Ben Platt by Zac Efron
Colson Whitehead by Oprah Winfrey
Demi Lovato by Arianna Huffington
Donald Glover by Tina Fey
Ed Sheeran by Taylor Swift
Emma Stone by Brie Larson
James Corden by Elton John
John Legend by Harry Belafonte
Kerry James Marshall by Grant Hill
Leslie Jones by Russell Crowe
Margot Robbie by Martin Scorsese
Ryan Reynolds by Helen Mirren
Sarah Paulson by Cate Blanchett


Bernard J. Tyson by John Lewis
Daniel Ek by Ed Sheeran
Evan Spiegel by DJ Khaled
George Church by Stephen Colbert
James Allison by Siobhan O’Connor
Janet Yellen by Joseph Stiglitz
Jason Blum by Harvey Weinstein
Jean Liu by Tim Cook
Jeff Bezos by Buzz Aldrin
LeBron James by Rita Dove
Margrethe Vestager by Helle Thorning-Schmidt
Rebekah Mercer by Ted Cruz
Tom Brady by Conan O’Brien
Vijay Shekhar Sharma by Nandan Nilekani


Chuck Schumer by Harry Reid
Donald Trump by Paul Ryan
Elizabeth Warren by Kamala Harris
General James Mattis by Robert Gates
James Comey by John McCain
Juan Manuel Santos by Ingrid Betancourt
Julian Assange by Jack Goldsmith
Kim Jong Un by Christopher Hill
King Maha Vajiralongkorn by Charlie Campbell
Melinda Gates by Sheryl Sandberg
Narendra Modi by Pankaj Mishra
Pope Francis by Cardinal Blase J. Cupich
Major General Qasem Soleimani by Kenneth M. Pollack
Recep Tayyip Erdogan by Can Dundar
Reince Priebus by Rahm Emanuel
Rodrigo Duterte by Cesar Gaviria
Sandra Day O’Connor by Sonia Sotomayor
Stephen Bannon by Michael Duffy
Theo Epstein by John Cusack
Theresa May by Bill English
Tom Perez by Tim Kaine
Vladimir Putin by Mikhail Gorbachev
Wang Qishan by Zoher Abdoolcarim
Xi Jinping by John Kerry


Ashley Graham by Tyra Banks
Biram Dah Abeid by Aidan McQuade
Cindy Arlette Contreras Bautista by Susanna Schrobsdorff
Cindy Sherman by Miranda July
Colin Kaepernick by Jim Harbaugh
David Adjaye by Thelma Golden
Fan Bingbing by Diane von Furstenberg
Fatou Bensouda by Aryn Baker
Gretchen Carlson by Katie Couric
Jeanette Vizguerra by America Ferrera
John Lewis by Cory Booker
Leila De Lima by Samantha Power
Margaret Atwood by Ann Patchett
Neymar by David Beckham
Raed Saleh by Mustafa Abu Faisal
Raf Simons by A$AP Rocky
RuPaul by Naomi Campbell
Simone Biles by Leslie Jones
Thelma Aldana by José Ugaz
Viola Davis by Meryl Streep

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