The annual Time 100 Most Influential People list issue hit newsstands — and the Internet — on Thursday. And in entertainment, at least, the list reflects the diversity Hollywood has been actively working on growing over the past few years, especially on television.
Featured TV stars include Jane the Virgin's Gina Rodriguez, Master of None mastermind Aziz Ansari, Quantico star Priyanka Chopra, Empire's Taraji P. Henson, reality star Caitlyn Jenner and Melissa McCarthy — who is still on Mike & Molly, at least for another few weeks.
In fact, there are only two white men from creative fields on the list: Leonardo DiCaprio, and video game vlogger Felix "PewDiePie" Kjellberg. The exclusion of white men like George Clooney, Matt Damon, or Eddie Redmayne is a surprising editorial choice, but a bold and much needed one.
This past year has been about changing Hollywood from the inside out, and the diversity of the list feels more like a natural reflection of the demographic sea change in progress, rather than a "no white dudes allowed" political statement.
Writing about Gina Rodriguez for the "Pioneers" section of the list, legendary actress and singer Rita Moreno praised the Jane the Virgin star for her hard-earned confidence, writing, "Whenever she talks about herself or about being Hispanic, she's sending the message 'I deserve this, I work very hard, and I'm a good person.'"
"Caitlyn [knew] the consequences of coming out," writes transgender activist Wayne Maines in his capsule on Caitlyn Jenner, also for the "Pioneers" section. "Because no matter where you come from, how famous you might be or how much money you have, letting America see you in such a vulnerable way is daring and admirable--not self-serving."
But it's not all about what each person signifies for the group they belong to, either. It's also about being allowed to not have to speak for an entire group of people and just tell one's own experience, like Aziz Ansari, who is praised by Broad City's Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer for Master of None's exceptional specificity of point-of-view.