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Source: Time



Pop phenomenon

Taylor Swift: megawatt talent, an extraordinary spirit, an impossibly charming blend of impishness, poise and radiance to spare. All of it combines to rock me back on my heels every time I see her. Both literally and figuratively, she’s a woman who writes her own songs. That makes for music that’s personal, of the moment and impossible to resist.

I’m amazed at how much earned wisdom Taylor threads into her work. She seems tuned in to the greater good, and she embraces—thoughtfully and authentically—the chance to contribute to the world. I’m always trying to find the best words to talk to my kids (and myself) about growing up, but you can’t top her beautifully articulated advice. The haters are gonna hate, but, well, shake it off. She illuminates our inner music that lets us dance to our own beat.

Along with her staggering list of accomplishments, perhaps the most exciting thing about Taylor is that she’s just getting started with what she plans to mine from her fierce, curious, boundlessly talented and beautiful heart.

Also, it doesn’t hurt that she named her cat after me.

By Mariska Hargitay

"This is a new year. A new beginning. And things will change"

Taylor Swift



A real leading man

Chris Pratt is here to save us—from aliens, dinosaurs and general boredom. America has decided he is its next big movie star, and I understand why. It’s not because of his broad shoulders and humble roots. It’s not because he looks like the perfect combination of a guy you know mixed with a guy you want to be. It’s because he has that something special. That magic thing that lets you know he is used to working hard and isn’t interested in wasting your time. He’s a facile and generous actor who is very smart but never concerned about proving that to you. He doesn’t forget that this whole thing is supposed to be fun, which I had the pleasure of seeing firsthand on Parks and Recreation. He is a real man in a sea of ciphers, a good father and friend, and one naturally funny dude. Pratt may spend the next few years riding horses or chasing comets, but he can land a joke with a natural ease that most people spend a lifetime trying to achieve.

By Amy Poehler

"I've always been a little soft. I like to eat"

Chris Pratt



The first lady of #fame

Kim Kardashian West is a media phenomenon. She has 29 million followers on Instagram and 31 million followers on Twitter, and her E! show, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, is considered appointment TV by a large and diverse audience.

Why? Why? Why? we might ask ourselves. Here are some very good reasons.

Beautiful in an exotic, totally exaggerated way, Kim exudes energy, sexuality, drama, determination, impetuousness and happiness. But she and her famous, entrepreneurial siblings—shepherded by a savvy, tireless matriarch—have also expanded the very definition of family.

The Kardashians are a totally modern construct. They are a blended family, of Armenian descent, with biracial pairings (Kim is married to Kanye West) and a reportedly transgender parent. They work hard, and they stick together through thick and thin.

Despite the flamboyance, the self-aggrandizement and the self-promotion (Kim set out to break the Internet by baring her bum in an extraordinary photograph), Kim comes across as an enviable big sister in a clan where everyone seems to love one another. Are they indeed today’s Brady Bunch?

Where does Kim go from here? There seem to be very few barriers to further explosive success.

By Martha Stewart

"It’s fun to have a partner who understands your life and lets you be you"

Kim Kardashian



Philosopher of screen

From Batman Begins to Interstellar, I did six blockbusters in a row with Christopher Nolan. I don’t think I’ve done two blockbusters in a row with anyone else. I used to call him the new David Lean, but he’s not. He’s the Christopher Nolan.

Aside from being a brilliant director, he’s a brilliant screenwriter with an element of surprise and an intelligence that’s quite extraordinary. Just when you think that’s where we’re going, he says, “Let’s go over there!”

Christopher is very secretive, and each film has a code title. He had us call Inception by the name Oliver’s Arrow. On the set, no matter how hot it is, he wears an overcoat and sips tea all day. You wouldn’t be able to pick him out as the director. There’s no shouting and screaming—he’s a very quiet gentleman. If you get it wrong, you just do it again. It’s like working with a philosopher.

By Michael Caine

"You musn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger"

Chris Nolan



Germany’s resolute diplomat

I became President of Ukraine right after Russia annexed Crimea and began supplying its weapons and mercenaries to Donbass. They were later followed by Russian regular troops. We desperately needed a strong reaction from the world to the brutal aggression against the sovereign nation: a tool kit that included immediate decisive steps, a longer-term vision, significant political weight and, most important, courage matched by unswerving commitment to democratic values. This came with the diplomatic effort led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her shaping of the Normandy format of talks between Ukraine and Russia, which saw the participation of Germany and France for the peaceful resolution of a conflict that still risks becoming a full-scale war in the heart of Europe.

Throughout this diplomatic effort, during which I have had 60 conversations on the phone with Mrs. Merkel over the past nine months, I have often asked myself: Is it unbending faith, true German persistence, meticulous attention to detail or perhaps a strong combination of all these qualities that drives Angela?

The June meeting in Normandy, the October discussion in Milan but most dramatically the 17 hours of overnight talks in Minsk in February were not simply a test of diplomacy, leadership and efficiency but a test of willpower.

I vividly remember, when many attempts to agree with Vladimir Putin on a badly needed cease-fire turned out to be in vain, it was Angela Merkel who would go on, calmly saying, “O.K., but why shouldn’t we go back to discussing?” so that no one could doubt she would walk out with a result.

Recently in Berlin she described her general approach as working to turn the impossible into the possible.

Angela Merkel managed to leverage German economic power into diplomatic power to lead a major security effort on behalf of the world, which, most importantly, entrusted her with that effort. This attainment has been fully recognized not only by her partners but by her harshest political opponents as well.

By Petro Poroshenko

"Nation states must today be prepared to give up their sovereignty"

Angela Merkel



A courageous innovator

It could not have been easy for Tim Cook to step into the immense shadow cast by the late Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs. But with grace and courage and an unabashed willingness to be his own man, Tim has pushed Apple to unimaginable profitability—and greater social responsibility. He is setting a new standard for what business can do in the world. Tim is unwavering in his support of an individual’s right to privacy and is not only embracing equality and LGBT rights but advocating for change through his words and actions. His commitment to renewable energy is also leaving our planet a little cleaner and a little greener for generations yet unborn.

Above all, he has shown that profitability and integrity can go hand in hand. Tim has done this while introducing, time and again, some of the most innovative products the world has ever seen. Tim Cook is proof that even the most successful companies can and should be judged by more than just their bottom line.

By John Lewis

"I hope people remember me as a good and decent man. And if they do, then that's success"

Tim Cook



Champion of education

I’m 16 years old and from Dara’a in Syria. I fled to Jordan with my family two years ago.

Spending time with Malala Yousafzai made me stronger. I didn’t know her before meeting her in Za’atari camp last year, but I understand she suffered, and yet she continues to fight for what she believes in—for the rights of children and for their education. She is an inspiration for me.

When it comes to continuing our education as refugees, I am on the front lines with my friends, speaking to other girls throughout the camp on the importance of going to school. My mother and father are always encouraging me. I saw this in Malala too, and her close relationship with her mother and father.

I’ve always loved learning and education, but since I fled with my family, these views have grown stronger. I have seen too much wrong to not use my voice. Malala has shown that education is crucial for laying a foundation for girls and boys to have secure lives.

I know no matter what I go through today, it will make me a stronger person for tomorrow. Rather than giving up, my friends and I will continue to think positively and try to make our community better. Girls need to learn to take care of themselves, because if they don’t, nobody will. Our lives are completely different now—we’ve gone from living in homes to surviving in tents in refugee camps. Education is the only way to regain our spirit and control over our lives.

I was so honored to be in Oslo to watch Malala be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. To see a young woman recognized with such an award made me realize that yes, I can make a difference, and I have to continue to fight for what I believe in—that all girls and boys can bring change to our world.

By Mezon Almellehan

"We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced"

Malala Yousafzai



I’m glad that Murakami-san has been selected as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME. He deserves the honor. He is a writer of great imagination and human sympathy, one who has enthralled millions of readers by building fictional worlds that are uniquely his. Murakami-san has a singular vision, as informed by pop culture as it is by deep channels of Japanese tradition. And he’s a Japanese writer—while Murakami-san spends much of his time in the U.S. and has earned acclaim internationally, he and his books are very much a product of Japan. In recent years, as the government in Japan has become more conservative, Murakami-san has become a valuable voice for peace.

By Yoko Ono

"If you remember me, then I don’t care if everyone else forgets"

Haruki Murakami



Inclusive inspiration

Emma Watson’s alter ego Hermione Granger would doubtless approve of her HeForShe campaign and its gutsy, smart take on feminism.

It’s especially refreshing to see men invited to join the fight for gender equality, as Watson pointedly did in launching the U.N. effort last fall, telling the men that it’s “your issue too.”

It’s also refreshing to see her vigorous embrace of feminism, which Watson defines as “the theory of political, economic and social equality of the sexes.” And apparently she lives by it. Although she is one of the world’s highest-paid actresses, she has spoken out about the paucity of female directors in Hollywood.

Watson was only 9 when she auditioned for the part of Hermione, and she appeared in every Harry Potter film to the end. She followed Hogwarts with a degree in English literature from Brown University.

Her HeForShe speech at Davos was an Internet sensation, but unsurprisingly, it drew the typical antifeminist rants and even some threats. Watson chose to highlight the moving letters she has received from fathers who tell her they are investing new hope in the future for their daughters. But she was also frank about the bullying tactics of her detractors and one site that made an empty threat to release nude photos. Her confident and cool reaction: “If they were trying to put me off, they did the opposite.”

By Jill Abramson

"Girls should never be afraid to be smart"




During his term as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis eschewed the extravagant trappings of his office, living in a simple apartment and cooking his own meals. Then he packed his pastoral humility in his suitcase and took it with him to Rome.

There, he has instilled a new sense of human-centeredness in the papacy. He has described himself as a sinner, and his nonjudgmental views on contentious church issues such as sexual orientation and divorce have brought hope to millions of Roman Catholics around the world.

Though I understood he was motivated by his concern for members of his flock in China, I was saddened in December when His Holiness the Pope buckled to political pressure and declined the opportunity to meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama. They have so much in common.

Even so, I love and admire His Holiness the Pope just as much as I admire and love His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Few would dispute that Pope Francis is a special gift from God who has brought a breath of fresh air to the Vatican.

By Desmond Tutu

"We all have the duty to do good"

Pope Francis