Jimmy Lai

TIME 100 2015 Jimmy Lai
Philippe Lopez—AFP/Getty Images

A hero in Hong Kong

There are those who, when given the keys to wealth and the perks of the Establishment, choose not to rock the boat because of the backlash they might face. Jimmy Lai is not such a person.

Though he went from a child laborer in a garment factory to owning his own clothing line and media company, he rejected complacency and the status quo when he chose to criticize a powerful government and support a primarily student-led democracy movement in his beloved Hong Kong.

His courage in the face of the firebombing of his home, as well as his subsequent arrest for his role in challenging the ruling order, resonates around the world as an inspiration for those seeking self-determination. It was this kind of bravery that inspired me to mention the Hong Kong protests in my Oscar acceptance speech, and that reminds all of us to always strive to speak truth to power.

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