As 2021 wraps, TIME looks back at some of this year’s most fascinating video interviews. From actor Steve Buscemi to climate activist Vanessa Nakate, these individuals are defining the present moment. Here are seven of the most thought-provoking conversations of the year.
Steve Buscemi: Everyone Said ‘Never Forget’ 9/11. Some Have No Choice
Actor and former firefighter Steve Buscemi discusses the enduring physical and mental toll of 9/11 on first responders 20 years later. Read his essay on the meaning of that burden here.
Vanessa Nakate: ‘You Cannot Leave This Responsibility to Young People’
Youth climate activist Vanessa Nakate speaks about how older generations have failed to meet funding pledges to help poor nations adapt to a warming planet. In an excerpt from her recent book, published in TIME, she calls for climate justice for Africa.
Amanda Gorman on Poetry, Beauty and Sudden Fame
Amanda Gorman’s eloquent poetry at President Joe Biden’s inauguration soothed millions of Americans still reeling just two weeks after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. Shortly after, she spoke to former First Lady Michelle Obama about art, activism and more.
Justine Bateman’s Aging Face and Why She Doesn’t Think It Needs ‘Fixing’
For her new book, Face: One Square Foot of Skin, actor and director Justine Bateman spoke to 47 women about their aging faces. In this interview with Susanna Schrobsdorff, Bateman talks about ageism and the angst many women face about being seen as older.
Billie Eilish on growing up in the spotlight
In this interview, Eilish—who was named one of TIME’s 100 most influential people of 2021—talks about the ups and downs of an adolescence in the public eye.
Cathy Park Hong on trying to “change this country’s consciousness”
The Korean-American poet—another one of TIME’s most influential people of 2021—discusses her book, Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning, and the exploration of race and minority identity in America.
What Officer Mike Fanone Saw on January 6
Officer Mike Fanone of the D.C. metropolitan police department was seriously injured in the Capitol riot—and is still grappling with what happened on that day, and in its aftermath. Interviewed by Molly Ball, Fanone walks viewers through his camera footage from Jan. 6.
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