The newest recipients of TIME100 Impact Awards—which recognize leaders who have done extraordinary work to shape their fields and the world at large—are Jeffrey Katzenberg, Graça Machel, Farwiza Farhan, Idris Elba and Sabrina Dhowr Elba.
The event is the second TIME100 Impact Awards presented in Dubai. Journalist and television presenter Raya Abirached hosted the event and opened with a moment of silence for the victims of the Turkey and Syria earthquakes.
Those attending the event included previous Impact Award winners Amanda Nguyen and Will.i.am, along with UAE government officials, actors, athletes and musicians.
The awardees delivered wide-ranging acceptance speeches, including honoring the victims of the Turkey and Syria earthquakes, the need to end discrimination and the protests in Iran.
Here’s what they had to say.
Sabrina Dhowre Elba: “We fight with those who have been forgotten. We fight with those who have been neglected”
First of all, good evening. As-salamu alaykum. I just want to thank you, Graça, for bulldozing a path for women who look like me to be able to speak what’s on our mind. So thank you.
I also want to, of course, acknowledge the urgent need of the people in Syria and Turkey. It’s heartbreaking. We all know what’s happening, we keep them in our prayers, and there are many ways to help. So please do what you can. May Allah grant them Jannah.
To be standing here tonight, being honored at a time where it’s crisis after crisis is conflicting. But it’s moments like this that help me feel like the impact of the work that we do is being felt. A friend once said to me that 50% of the advocacy is being in the room—it’s showing up. And that sat heavy with me. The importance of using our voices because we have the privilege of having voices that are heard for the millions who do not.
We fight with those who have been forgotten. We fight with those who have been neglected. Millions of rural people who starve feeding the world. People who depend on their land for independence, but whose land suffers the effects of climate change not in some near future, but today. Hardworking people who are looking for investment, hardworking people who deserve to be compensated for the role they play in fighting off the 1.5 [°C warming]. People who remind me of my mother, who once depended on that land as well and is now here with me today.
On her behalf I accept this award. And I also want to thank my very good looking husband. You inspire me every day to become a leader, a change maker, because you allow me to dream in a way I have never dreamed. So thank you.
Idris Elba: “The voice that I was given is so powerful when I use it to help those that don’t have one.”
I want to thank TIME100 for this incredible award and also to the fellow awardees. We honestly are humbled by everyone in this room. And thank you for your work and your commitment. I think downstairs in the press line, one of the main questions that kept coming back is ‘How can people make an impact like you two?’ And the answer that I came up with immediately was you just did it, by asking how. The big question is how? Once we ask that question, we open the doors of investigating what we can do. You answer that question in dialogue, you answer that question in action, by sharing, by answering it yourself.
For me, I’m an actor, I’m an entertainer. That’s what I love to do. But I realized that the voice that I was given is so powerful when I use it to help those that don’t have one. And honestly, I don’t know how we do it. I don’t know what motivates us. But I imagine that like you, we just need to just keep doing it. It doesn’t matter. We just need to just keep pushing the agendas that shift people’s dynamics, perceptions, and help change. I’m just honored to be here. I really hope that you understand the two things that when you make an impact, sometimes you’re not the person that actually feels the impact. And the irony of being here with TIME is that the world doesn’t have much of it. So it’s thanks so much.
Graça Machel: “Education is the key to fulfilling one’s highest calling.”
Thank you to the organizers of the TIME100 Impact Awards for this gracious honor and congratulations to my fellow awardees recognized alongside me this evening!
Thank you also to my loved ones and my colleagues across the decades who have propelled me to the heights that we celebrate tonight. I particularly want to acknowledge the Foundation for Community Development and the Graça Machel Trust, the two institutions which have become my platforms to bring my passions and contributions to humanity as a women’s and child rights advocate to life.
As a rural girl from a small village in Mozambique who walked to school barefoot, I would never have expected to stand on a stage like this being recognized for my life’s work as a social justice activist. Had it not been for my family, who invested in my education and nurtured my dreams, my fate would have been totally different.
All too often, not much is expected from girls who come from humble and limiting circumstances such as my own. But my story need not be an unlikely one. I know intimately that education is the key to fulfilling one’s highest calling.
There are millions of girls around the world—particularly ones blessed with my skin color—who have bigger ambitions of impact than my own, and whose promise of a future is brighter than what we celebrate today.
This is why no effort must be spared to ensure this will be the last generation to endure the suffering of discrimination. Not one more child should have her future handicapped by forced marriage or severe malnutrition. Not one more woman should fear the violation of her body or the degradation of the silencing of her voice. We must all have the opportunity, the nurturing, and the backing, to inherit the dreams of our own aspirations and achievement.
I deeply appreciate tonight’s accolades and recognition, and yes, we must celebrate our successes, but let us make no mistake that the important work of social transformation remains largely unfinished. There is much impact yet to be made. Let us channel this energy and our resources towards investing in women’s leadership and the potential of girls, and in doing so, shaping the future of our communities into prosperous, healthy and equitable ones.
And in closing, I offer to all those who are fighting the noble fight for gender and racial equality, for social justice and economic advancement for all: Keep strong. Keep resilient. Be unyielding and steadfast in our struggle. Victory will be ours.
A luta continua!
I thank you.
Jeffrey Katzenberg: “There’s no such thing as a great story without a great ending.”
It’s a great honor to receive this extraordinary award.
For most of my career, I’ve been a storyteller … and it seems that my career has been a story, consisting of a series of chapters. Each chapter has been a dream that’s come true for me, including being here with you all tonight.
As these chapters have unfolded, I’ve discovered some guiding principles that have helped me keep moving forward, and I thought I would share them with you.
First of all, for some inexplicable reason, I’ve always had this drive and ambition to exceed expectations. When I exceeded the expectations of my bosses and colleagues, it led to greater opportunities … exceeding the expectations of audiences for my movies led to untold success … exceeding the expectations of friends led to incredible relationships … exceeding the expectations of my wife has led to 48 wonderful years – though exceeding her expectations is becoming harder! These two simple words, “exceed expectations,” have been – and continue to be – a brightly shining north star for me.
Next, I discovered early in my career that, putting aside family, the most beautiful thing in the world to me is … laughter. And, in particular, the laughter of children. For the 30 years I worked in animation, nothing made me happier than to stand in the back of a theater playing one of our films and hear the beautiful laughter of children.
The third principle I actually learned from one of the all-time greatest movie stars – Kirk Douglas – who befriended me and became a mentor when I was a young studio executive. He gave me the gift of the most valuable 12 words I’ve ever heard: “You haven’t learned how to live until you’ve learned how to give.” This philosophy has driven my philanthropy and, as Kirk understood so well, it has enriched my life beyond measure.
As I continue to page through the chapters of my life, there’s one other principle that’s never far from my mind. It was taught to me by someone I got to know very well, although I never actually met him: Walt Disney. He said, there’s no such thing as a great story without a great ending. And so, I’m happy to say tonight, I’m still in quest of my great ending. This award will help inspire me to keep pursuing it.
Thank you very much.
Farwiza Farhan: “You don’t envision yourself ending up on the cover of one of the most iconic magazines in the world”
Growing up in Aceh, Indonesia, I spent a great deal of my childhood swimming in the river and climbing trees. I have always loved being outdoors in nature and very early on in my life, I knew I wanted to do something to protect the environment around me. I fell in love with the ocean first, then I fell in love with the forest and its wildlife.
A decade ago, I had the opportunity to join forces with people already dedicating their life to the protection, conservation and restoration of the Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra, Indonesia, the last place on earth where the critically-endangered tiger, elephant, rhino and orangutan still roam together in the wild. Since then we have campaigned for stronger protection of this landscape, won lawsuits, restored forests, empowered communities, and launched the very first women-led ranger team in the region. But last year, something unexpected happened. Cate Matthews, a journalist, reached out to me and suddenly I found myself on the cover of TIME. Pretty crazy, I know. When you grow up in a remote corner of the world, like Banda Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia (I bet most of you have no idea where this place is) – you don’t envision yourself ending up on the cover of one of the most iconic magazines in the world.
Being one of the covers of TIME Magazine was incredible, but what is more incredible for me is seeing how it impacted people around me, the communities we work with, and other women and girls in the region. First, it gave permission for girls growing up and living life outside the norm, saying it’s okay to be an outlier. It created a space for the rebels and the outcasts. Second, it allowed fathers, brothers, husbands, and uncles the choice to be core supporters of women and girls to reach their dreams—to be allies and enablers, as my father, uncle and husband have been. And last but not least, it shows that conservation is no longer the issue sitting on the fringe, that each and every one of us depend on healthy ecosystems to thrive.
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