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TIME’s 100 Most Influential People: Black Artists, Innovators, Titans, Leaders, Icons & Pioneers

TIME’s 100 Most Influential People: Black Artists, Innovators, Titans, Leaders, Icons & Pioneers

It’s that time of the year again!

TIME has released its annual list of “100 Most Influential People,” sectioning the list of 100 influencers into six different categories this year: artists, innovators, titans, leaders, icons and pioneers.  

The publication has released five different magazine covers to honor their annual list, featuring artist Mary J.Blige, actress Zendaya, and Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley. 

We’ve compiled a list of every Black artist, innovator, titan, leader, icon and pioneer included in the 2022 “TIME’s 100” list. 


Quinta Brunson | Comedian, Actor, Creator of Abbott Elementary

Photo Courtesy of Rozette Rago

“Quinta Brunson is more than a writer, producer, actor, and comedian. She’s a student and a master of her craft. A game changer in network television. Smart and funny as hell, in that order. She’s a Swiss Army knife that can - and does - do it all. And while she’s doing it, she’s elevating everyone her work touches." - LeBron James. 

Faith Ringgold | Painter, Sculptor, Author

Photo Courtesy of Meron Tekie Menghistab/The New York Times/Redux

“A Renaissance woman born in Harlem during its own Renaissance, Faith Ringgold has painted, sculpted, written, sewed, and incited change all her life. Her fundamental reinvention of narrative-based art, especially her panoptic elevation of the American craft tradition, has firmly established her as one of the great artists of our time.” - Thelma Golden

Jazmine Sullivan | Singer, Songwriter

Photo Courtesy of Josefina Santos

“From her first single…Jazmine Sullivan demonstrated an innate ability to write songs that perfectly capture the stories of so many Black women. Sullivan has a lyrical vulnerability that makes you think she has been reading your journal. She is so deserving of her most recent Grammy win, along with acclaim and other accolades that have been an honor to witness. But the most exciting part of her recent career journey has been that Sullivan has allowed us to share in her journey to self-love, removing herself from the shadows of fear.” - Amber Riley

Michael R. Jackson | Playwright, Composer, Lyricist

Photo Courtesy of Malike Sidibe

“When I saw Michael R. Jackson’s musical A Strange Loop off-Broadway, I saw myself in the lead character of Usher…When Jackson wrote this play, he was saying: I have to lean in to my authenticity and my truth, even though there’s nothing in the market that would encourage me to do so. The manifestation of him doing that is remarkable…So Michael: thank you for being brave and bold, from the bottom of my heart.” - Billy Porter


Zendaya | Actress, Singer

Photo Courtesy of Camila Falquez/TIME

“To me, Zendaya is a thousand years old. She has already lived many lives before this one. And yet, she is as young as springtime…She is an autonomous creative force herself. A cultural icon in the making. A person driven by pure inspiration, empathy, and respect for her craft, who uses authenticity as a new superpower. She seems fearless, her roots run deep, and I love that she still laughs like a kid. Zendaya is the future. And there is nothing more comforting to me. This is only the beginning.” - Denis Villeneuve

Derrick Palmer and Chris Smalls | Creators of Amazon Labor Union

Photo Courtesy of Terrance Purdy, Jr./TIME

“At a time of extreme and growing income and wealth inequality, the working class of this country is courageously fighting back and telling billionaires and the most powerful corporations on the planet that they cannot have it all…What [Christian and Derrick] did is nothing short of historic. It sends a powerful message to the working class of this country that now is the time to stand up to corporate greed and demand better wages, benefits, and working conditions.” - Bernie Sanders

Timnit Gebru | AI Researcher, Tech Activist

Photo Courtesy of Djeneba Aduayom-August


“Gebru is one of the world’s leading researchers helping us understand the limits of artificial intelligence in products like facial-recognition software, which fails to recognize women of color, especially Black women. Her work shines a light on racial disparities in the tech industry, from worker mistreatment to discriminatory product design…[Her work warns] us about what can go wrong when power goes unchecked in the tech industry.” - Safiya Noble

Francis Kéré | Architect

Photo Courtesy of Bettina Strenske-Alamy


“The 2022 Pritzker Prize winner [Kéré] has built a career out of making places that exist on the periphery - places that have a transformative impact on the way in which ­communities and societies see and serve themselves. He is a trailblazer for his long-­standing commitment to ­formalizing space for both social and environmental good, and in this sense his legacy lives not just in his built work but also in his general practice and methodological spirit.” - David Adjaye


Oprah Winfrey

 Photo Courtesy of Tom Cooper/Getty Images


“Whether she’s talking to pop stars, Presidents, schoolgirls, scholars - or she’s asking you about your life over a glass of wine in the living room - Oprah has always had that uncanny ability to open us up, to hear beyond our words, and to uncover a higher truth, to be vulnerable with us in a way that allows us to be vulnerable back.” - Michelle Obama

Elizabeth Alexander | Poet, President of Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Photo Courtesy of Djeneba Aduayom//TIME


“In her six books of poetry, Alexander is an explorer who’s constantly finding new ways to tell the stories of Black America. And through her work…she has put real investment into creating spaces that reflect the country’s rich diversity, and rethinking how we can embrace our cultural narratives, whether through physical monuments or the ways in which we tell our stories.” - Lynn Nottage


Mia Mottley | Prime Minister of Barbados

Photo Courtesy of Camila Falquez/TIME


“There are some who stand tall and stand out no matter where they are from—whether a large, densely populated country or a small island nation. Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados is one such person. Bold, fearless, and possessing a great intellect and wit, the Prime Minister is a brilliant politician who knows how to shake things up…From poverty to debt to climate change, she is a vocal advocate on the world stage for responsible stewardship of our planet, so that nations large and small and people rich and poor can survive and thrive together.” -Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Ketanji Brown Jackson | First Black Woman Supreme Court Justice

Photo Courtesy of Doug Mills/The New York Times/Redux


“With grit and grace, and holding more trial-court experience than any current Supreme Court Justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson demonstrated to America that she was prepared, poised, and would ultimately persevere…It was a 21st century Jackie Robinson moment, a moment in which barriers were at long last broken, but it was also something even deeper. Her confirmation is the embodiment of our ancestors’ wildest dreams.” - Cory Booker

Samia Suluhu Hassan | President of Tanzania

Photo Courtesy of Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters


“President Samia Suluhu Hassan took office in March 2021, and her leadership has been a tonic. That year has made a big difference to Tanzania. A door has opened for dialogue between political rivals, steps have been taken to rebuild trust in the democratic system, efforts have been made to increase press freedom, and women and girls have a new role model.” - Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Letitia James | First Black Woman To Serve As NY Attorney General

Photo Courtesy of Erica Lansner/Redux


“As the first Black woman to serve as New York State’s attorney general - one of the most powerful law-enforcement positions in the country - Letitia James has used her position to take down powerful men and pursue nationwide causes…from protecting women from other states who seek an abortion in New York to investigating the role of social media companies in spreading online hate.” - Charlotte Alter


Mary J. Blige

Photo Courtesy of Micaiah Carter/TIME


“Mary came up the way we all did. She was a voice for us, but she wasn’t like other R&B artists at the time. She became a household name early because she was a hip-hop artist who also sang. The industry needed someone like that. The streets wanted that. Pop culture wanted that. And she was the one for it because she wasn’t made up. She was the girl around the way with the big earrings. She was like a spokesperson for a particular type of girl coming out of New York and coming out of the streets…She carved out a lane for herself, and now she can feed the people more than just music…She’s who we wanted her to be, and even more. She became who she’s supposed to be.” - Nas

Issa Rae

Photo Courtesy of Erik Carter/August


“Issa is not only a prolific writer, a captivating actor and comedian, a profound leader, an efficacious producer, and a music mogul in the making (pauses to take a breath) - she’s also a consistently hilarious and loyal friend. For those of us lucky enough to know her, Issa is everything you want a person to be: kind, funny, down to earth…She taught us that the norm of everyday life is just as dramatic as any superhero storyline and that we can be the heroes of our own lives.” - Robin Thede

Jon Batiste

Photo Courtesy of TIME


“What I love most about Jon as an artist and human being, though, is that he has handled his success with grace, and his creativity with humility. It is all of these attributes that will allow him to continue to grow and accomplish all that he sets out to. And I, for one, am excited for the future that he has ahead of him.” - Quincy Jones

Nadine Smith | LGBTQ Advocate

Photo Courtesy of Nadine Smith


“In the fight for equality in Florida, there has perhaps been no greater advocate for LGBTQ people than Nadine Smith. For over 30 years—most recently as the executive director of Equality Florida—Smith has worked tirelessly to safeguard our rights and elevate our voices, combatting discrimination in employment, housing, and many other areas. Smith comes from a family with a strong civil rights background and has consistently chosen to defend those who are the most vulnerable in our state and across the country.” - Kristen Arnett


Candace Parker | WNBA Champion

Photo Courtesy of Nolis Anderson/TIME


“Candace Parker is a force to be reckoned with…She’s a champion (and six-time WNBA All-Star) who has built a legacy by revolutionizing her game. As a fellow athlete and a fellow parent, I admire what she’s accomplished and how she has taken her daughter all over the world while playing to providing for her family. Her commitment is unparalleled…She is inspiring not only to the next generation of players but also to all young people…Her legend is only growing.” - Dwayne Wade

Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson | Multi-Hyphenate Creative

Photo Courtesy of Matt Holyoak/BAFTA/Camera Press/Redux

“We’ve made almost 3,000 shows together. In that time, he’s also written six books while releasing incredible albums - and this past year made an amazing documentary called Summer of Soul that won every award you can think of…Now everyone wants to know what Quest is going to do next. Better get some popcorn because you’re gonna want to see this.” - Jimmy Fallon

Sikhulile Moyo | Scientist, Director of Botswana-Harvard HIV Reference Laboratory

Photo Courtesy of Sikhulile Moyo/Twitter


“Scientists in Africa have been monitoring and sequencing pathogens since long before the pandemic. The world benefited from this network when scientists including Sikhulile Moyo…identified and reported the emergence of the Omicron variant last November. It was a transformational moment and a shift in paradigm - one that for me symbolized that excellence in science can originate in Africa.” - John Nkengasong

Gregory L. Robinson | NASA Headquarters Program Director

Photo Courtesy of Chris Gunn/NASA


“Along with my fellow scientists, I’ve been dreaming and thinking about the James Webb Space Telescope since 1995. It’s the most important scientific project I could imagine working on - 100 times more powerful than its precursor, the Hubble Space Telescope. To me, Webb is an engineering miracle. It’s a people miracle too; over 10,000 scientists, engineers, and others worked on it. Who can we thank for Webb’s success, now that it’s up in space and taking sharp pictures just as we hoped? Greg is our program director at NASA headquarters, and to build such an engineering marvel and scientific success, he channeled the forces of human nature and ingenuity.” - John Mather

Congratulations to all of the TIME’s 100 honorees!

Photos Courtesy of Micaiah Carter/Camila Falquez/TIME