Portraying Freddie Mercury in the Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Rami Malek captured the heart and soul of what made Queen the legendary band that they are today. Earning a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Malek’s haunting portrayal of Mercury took Hollywood by storm and garnered attention for the 15-year acting veteran.
In his write-up of Malek, actor Robert Downey Jr. stated, “He developed the skill without which his many attributes as an artist might have been squelched—principled leadership. He’s understated and kind, complicated and relatable; he’s downright mercurial.”
It’s no surprise that Taylor Swift made the TIME 100 list. An American cultural icon, Swift has been synonymous with pop music for the past decade and her popularity only continues to grow. Known for hit singles like “You Belong with Me” and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” Swift has the ability to reach millions of people with her transcendent musical ability.
Grammy-nominated musician Shawn Mendes told TIME, “Taylor makes the job of creating music for millions of people look easy. It all comes from her—her belief in magic and love, and her ability to be as honest and raw as possible. She’s the master of putting the perfect amount of thought into not overthinking, and that’s why her music connects so well.”
“A Star Is Born” was just another recent notch in the legacy of Lady Gaga. Characterized by her powerful and commanding vocal style, Gaga’s music made her into a superstar—but “A Star Is Born” showcased the singer’s incredible acting chops as well. Those acting chops transcended the big screen when it was widely believed that the star entered a relationship with co-star Bradley Cooper—until she shut those rumors down on an episode of “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”
On Gaga, legendary singer Celine Dion stated, “She’s definitely one of the most inventive artists we’ve ever seen. Her artistic expression has no rules, no boundaries… What makes her even more special, and such a powerful influence on society, is that she empowers her fans to adopt the very same values in their lives—to stand up for what they believe in, despite what others might think.”
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
A man who needs no introduction, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has maintained a certain omnipresence in the media that no other star can measure up to. One of the hardest working men in Hollywood, Johnson has maintained a grueling schedule of high-intensity training and acting in major films. As of 2019, Johnson has taken on more production roles—which saw him produce films like “Shazam!” and “Fighting with My Family.”
“Wonder Woman” actress and fellow “Fast and Furious” co-star Gal Gadot stated, “Dwayne is someone who believes the sky is the limit and will go above and beyond to make sure he gives 100% every single day, whether he is at the gym, working with his charity (the Dwayne Johnson Rock Foundation), being with his family and friends, or working on a new project.”
For the past eight years, Emilia Clarke has received rave reviews for her portrayal of Daenerys Targaryen in the hit television series, “Game of Thrones.” Characterized by her bone-white hair and brash confidence in the show, Clarke demonstrated an impeccable amount of character development over the course of the series. Clarke’s portrayal of Targaryen has earned her several award nominations, including the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.
On Clarke, Emma Thompson stated, “First impressions can mislead. The intimacy of a nine-week shoot will reveal all. Especially one that starts—starts, mind you—at 2 a.m. What was revealed was a woman of mickle might, whose instincts, whetted by years of hard work in environments that were not always safe or healthy, are as finely honed as any I’ve encountered.”
Starring in the lead role of “Captain Marvel,” Brie Larson has become the poster-girl for social justice. Known for her staunch activism, Larson maintains a strong political presence that sees her consistently promoting gender and racial equality. Set to be one of the leaders of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Larson shattered box office records when “Captain Marvel” made more than $1 billion around the world.
“Avengers: Endgame” co-star Tessa Thompson stated, “Brie is primed to be one of Marvel’s next big leaders at a time when women are breaking ceilings in all spaces. She is in a position to make real systemic change in Hollywood. I’m elated to see someone so pure of intention wield that power.”
Famed actress Glenn Close has maintained a consistent presence in the media for the past several decades. Starring in films such as “Fatal Attraction” and “The Wife,” Close has earned numerous nominations and awards—most recently including Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama for her role in 2017’s “The Wife.” Like Larson, Close is also heavily involved in politics—rallying for issues such as gay marriage and women’s rights. She has made donations to the campaigns of Democratic politicians such as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
Actor Robert Redford stated, “Glenn is a major talent, an actor who is deeply committed to her craft. She doesn’t play roles as much as she transforms herself into them, never allowing her own personality or celebrity to get in the way. Through many years now, I’ve been able to call her a friend and colleague. She never looks back, and neither do I. I just try to keep up with her—looking forward to her next performance, always.”
Known for his directorial hits such as “Do the Right Thing” and “Malcolm X,” Spike Lee has made a name for himself with his deep reflections on race relations through his films. With his powerful artistry, Lee earned many accolades for himself. Lee’s devotion to race relations and colorism in film has inspired many future directors, including “Get Out” and “Us” director Jordan Peele.
In his write-up on Lee, Jordan Peele stated, “Spike Lee can’t be described in a single word. I might struggle to do it in 200. He’s a visionary, a trailblazer, a provocateur and a true American original. He’s made more than two dozen films across nearly every genre, and all of them have been completely different. But to me, the common thread across his career may be his impeccable timing—his ability to understand the cultural landscape of the moment and deliver a spot-on message.”
The “Thank U, Next” musician has been breaking records with the release of the hit album in February of 2019. Receiving universal acclaim by critics, the title track topped the charts in 12 different countries and earned Ariana Grande her first number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100. Like all of her other albums, “Thank U, Next” went Platinum—selling 116,000 records in the United States alone.
Award-winning singer-songwriter Troye Sivan stated, “Ariana Grande remains the most real person I’ve met. I’ve always thought the world is privy to actual, genuine emotion—be it heartbreak, empathy, generosity, resilience, strength—and I believe that’s exactly why the world keeps falling deeper in love with Ariana. Wearing her heart on her sleeve and in her work, she oozes those emotions in abundance.”