Viola Davis, Ava DuVernay and More Change-Makers We Love Make TIME's 100 Most Influential People List

This year's list is filled with so much #BlackExcellence. 

TIME’s 100 Most Influential People debuted and this year’s roster, per usual, is filled with amazing individuals who have made a significant impact on the world.

Names that come as no surprise include NBA champion LeBron James, director Ava DuVernay, singer John Legend, and actress Viola Davis. But a few of the names are up-and-coming talent we can only expect more greatness from.

In a slight twist from the norm, TIME tapped individuals the honorees admire to write their profiles.

“He makes music from an unapologetically inspiring and Christian perspective—music that transcends age, race and gender,” Common said about TIME 100 honoree, Chance the Rapper. “He gives back to his Chicago community. And he does it all as an independent artist, without the support of a label. I’m glad Chance followed his dreams. I hope he always does.”

The Grammy award-winning singer joins the ranks of Donald Glover and Barry Jenkins, who all have redefined paradigms of Black masculinity in pop culture. 

“I always keep up with gymnastics because I love the Olympics,” says fellow TIME 100 honoree Leslie Jones about Simone Biles. “But what struck me when I first saw Simone in Rio was how perfect she was at everything. That girl was born to do what she does.”

Oprah Winfrey wrote a glowing profile for honoree Colson Whitehead, Pulitzer Prize winning author of the prolific novel “The Underground Railroad.”

“Colson has a vision about what it means to make art,” she says. “He didn’t just write a historical novel about slavery and courage and the beating heart of freedom. Although the struggle continues and our challenges are not behind us, the brilliance of his vision is that he reminds us that, like his heroine Cora, we can never give up hope, can never stop trying.”

In addition to the aforementioned greats, Jordan Peele, the co-chairs of the Women’s March on Washington, Alicia Keys, Colin Kaepernick, RuPaul and David Adjaye were also honored.

Read all of their TIME 100 Most Influential People profiles and more, right here

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To me, being woke means that you recognize that the world is not a simple place, that everything is not all equal, that justice has not happened yet for everyone. And that there's a lot of work to be done. [MUSIC] Your eyes are wide open and you're paying attention. And you're reaching out, and speaking to people along the way, and bringing them on. To increase the amount of wokeness in your community. Being woke is like eyes wide open, everything is clear. You can always see things that other people can just ignore or they just don't know. Woke for me is just being outraged all the time and being able to stay human and feel outraged about injustice that is happening around me. It's being uncomfortable all the time. And making sure that I'm speaking on behalf of those that can't speak out for themselves. Some people know what's happening around them, but they are not doing anything. Right. They're just like, well, it is what it is. Yeah. That's not what woke means, that you actually Take it upon yourself to be like, this is something I need to fix. I need to be part of the solution. And the other thing is, to do that knowing that you can fix it, whatever your level of platform is, there's always an opportunity for you to do just a little something to support them. I also think about what words actually mean, and how we give them power, right? Are you just going to wear it across your chest, but actually not live it out, or are you going to give this word a meaning with your actions? With your daily commitment. And I think in order for us to really progress, we're gonna need people to really step out of their comfort zones, and have those uncomfortable conversations, and not just live in a space where they get to preach to people who already understand what it means. Couldn't agree more. I think to be woke means that you are aware of the issues and the world around [MUSIC] [UNKNOWN] I believe it means that you are engaged in the work of justice. This is a time where we just, we can't afford to be asleep. We have to be all the way alert. Without action on the knowledge that we have now, our world will never change. And we need that more than ever. [MUSIC]