The 100 Most Influential People of 2020
Dana Scruggs for TIME
By Taraji P. Henson
September 22, 2020 9:34 PM EDT

I remember hearing Megan Thee Stallion on one of those famous DJ radio shows a few years ago. She rode the beat like I’d never heard anybody ride the beat in a long time—and I’m a hip-hop head. There was something about this woman. Once you discover her, you become a fan. I don’t like to put the stigma of the word strong on Black women because I think it dehumanizes us, but she has strength—strength through vulnerability. She’s lost much of her family—her mother, her father, her grandmother—yet she is the epitome of tenacity, of pulling herself up by her bootstraps. She was shot this summer, and still people tried to tear her down. But she’s out here still loving and being sweet. It’s invigorating to see her become a platinum-selling artist with the viral hit “Hot Girl Summer” and multiple No. 1 songs in the past year, “Savage” and “WAP.” But you would be a fool to think that’s all there is to her. She’s deep. She’s enrolled in college. She’s an entertainer. She’s a free spirit; I see that in her. The industry might try to pigeonhole her in this rap game, but she’s got a plan that’s much bigger. And we got her. I just want her to keep winning.

Henson is an Academy Award–nominated actor

Buy a print of the Megan Thee Stallion cover.

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