TIME brought some of its 2022 Person of the Year recipients together Thursday night to celebrate the latest edition of the 95-year-old franchise. The Person of the Year reception, held at The Plaza Hotel’s glitzy Grand Ballroom, kicked off with cocktails and mingling—and included a video message from 2022 Person of the Year Volodymyr Zelensky, as well as an interview with actor and 2022 Icon of the Year Michelle Yeoh. Breakout Artist of the Year Mickey Guyton performed two of her hit songs to an enthusiastic crowd.
TIME’s new CEO Jessica Sibley welcomed guests at her first public speaking event since taking up the role last month. Award-winning poet, J. Ivy performed a spoken word piece. BlocPower founder Donnel Baird, the 2022 Dreamer of the Year—named by TIME and American Family Insurance—talked about helping families make their dreams bigger in a video message.
Here are the biggest moments from TIME’s 2022 Person of the Year reception.
Volodymyr Zelensky paid tribute to freedom fighters around the world
Zelensky paid tribute to the freedom fighters of his country—and around the world in a video message. Nearly 10 months have passed since Russian forces invaded Ukraine, and since then Zelensky has emerged as a prominent world leader in his efforts to lead Ukraine’s battle for independence.
“It is an honor for me to represent the struggle of Ukrainians and the spirit of Ukraine, the spirit of freedom that echoes in the souls of so many people around the world,” Zelensky said. “This is the free world spirit, and let’s do everything for our spirit to win.”
Zelensky’s speech honored the brave doctors, farmers, journalists, and human rights lawyers, along with ordinary people, who stepped up to help the war effort. He also thanked those who supported Ukraine in its fight for freedom.
Michelle Yeoh emphasized the importance of taking risks
Yeoh, who TIME named the first-ever Icon of the Year, spoke to Editor-in-Chief Edward Felsenthal about the lessons she learned during the early stages of her four-decade career.
Starting off in Hong Kong action films with stars like Jackie Chan, Yeoh recalled how physically challenging her initial roles were, and how they prepped her to take greater risks and not be afraid of failure.
“First you must fall before you learn to fly,” Yeoh said. “I think that’s something that’s resonated throughout my life and my career.”
The 60-year-old actor carried her stunt skills into more recent roles like Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and Everything Everywhere All At Once, which grossed over $100 million in global ticket sales.
Yeoh said she can’t believe she is finally receiving such enormous recognition.
“I think when I started my career, people would never have thought a little girl from Malaysia [would] one day [be] here getting the Icon of the Year award,” Yeoh said. “Thank you for your love and care and embracing someone who’s very different from you, [and] comes from a different place. I think that’s what the world is all about today.”
Mickey Guyton: ‘All I was trying to do is fight for equality in country music’
Guyton had some memorable performances this year, gracing the Capitol Lawn for PBS’s July 4 celebration and presenting the national anthem at the Superbowl. On Thursday night, she wowed the crowd with performances of “Somethin’ Bout You” and “Lay It On Me”—two of her most popular songs.
Despite the artist’s accomplishments, she told TIME at the event that she struggles with accepting fame. “I have impostor syndrome so I’m still working through feeling worthy,” Guyton said.
The musician is grateful to have the success she does now, but she had a long journey getting to this point. “My career took off right when I was about to quit,” Guyton said.
“When country music wasn’t working for me, I did think about quitting and starting a different genre. But I’ve loved country music so much, it’s just been something that’s in my bones and it’s something that I want,” she added.
As the first Black nominee for Best Country Album at the Grammys, Guyton has frequently spoken out about racial inequality in the country music industry and how difficult it’s been to get the community to address those issues. “This is the last thing I ever thought I would be at. All I was trying to do is fight for equality in country music, you know, and to be here, it is such an honor,” Guyton says.
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