The notorious TIME 100 list was released today, highlighting the most significant artists, politicians and innovators of the day. Of course, there are the compulsory additions – think your Kimyes, your Hillarys, your Obamas – but many names that readers may not expect to be recognized are also thrown into the mix.
Here are our favorite wild cards from this year’s list:
Misty Copeland, ballerina
It takes a lot of hard work to become a professional ballerina, and even harder work to break down what were perceived as physical limitations by the industry. Misty Copeland, a current soloist for the American Ballet Theatre, was recognized for breaking down race and physical barriers, going above and beyond while still making it look easy.
Brian Chesky, inventor of airbnb
When it comes to major emergent tech services we take for granted, brands like Uber and airbnb are right at the top – can anyone even remember life before them? Chesky turned a startup into a unique travel revolution, establishing trust between homeowners and travelers and making new connections in a way that a hotel simply can’t. It saves money, it makes friendships, and it’s a RISD graduate’s simple idea that is changing how we think of vacationing.
Anita Sarkeesian, #GamerGate advocate
It’s possible that Anita Sarkeesian is the most cyberbullied woman of all time, and she does not give a damn. The outspoken women’s rights advocate made her voice heard during the major Gamergate conflict that emerged last year, causing many women working in the gaming sector to feel threatened enough to leave their homes. Sarkeesian produced and hosted the groundbreaking webseries “Tropes Vs. Women in Video Games,” the backlash of which she’s still suffering, but Sarkeesian holds her head high and continues to advocate.
Sarah Koenig, audio storytelling master
Ever heard of a little podcast called Serial? Arguably the first in the medium that had thousands upon thousands of listeners clicking refresh, waiting for a new episode to be posted late into the night, Koenig introduced her This American Life style of reporting (she’s an alum of the show) to a cold case. The case, involving an alleged murder in 1999 in Baltimore inspired a large swath of listeners to conduct investigations of their own, causing the show to eventually unravel with new information in real time. The audience informed the content, and the pressure’s on for a Season 2 that’s just as compelling.
John Oliver, satirical mastermind
There are always comedians that make the TIME 100, but the choice of Oliver in particular is a strong one because of the political waves he’s made in the past year. Oliver’s longform, often hilarious takedowns of major issues like Internet freedom, FIFA and the IRS make complex issues accessible to larger audience, and has provoked a fair amount of social action as well. Bravo.
Check out the full list here.