We all have people we admire. Those who show the strength, determination and resilience of the human spirit. Those who strive to make a difference, who speak out against inequality, and refused to be silenced.
The world needs more people like this, and while there are plenty to choose from already, here is our list of people that inspired us in 2019.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
There are a lot of reasons why this particular pair might make this list. Their charitable work, their swoon-worthy romance, their individual causes are all worthy options. But what brings the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on this list is the recent push back against the media, and its endless attacks on Meghan. The continuous degradation and ‘hate’ thrown at Meghan since first stepping out with Harry by the British Tabloids has been a strain on their mental health, and confidence. The press has left nothing out of bounds with regard to what they will attack Meghan for; including her wedding dress (which was beautiful, in our opinion), her clothes, and even the way she holds newborn son Archie. But Harry, whose mother, the late Princess Diana, had a tumultuous relationship with the tabloids before her death, has had enough. The royal launched a lawsuit against the British Tabloids for their inaccurate and criticism filled rants, holding them accountable for their actions and the impact it has had on his family.
While the lawsuit is ongoing, and will no doubt have its ups and downs, this is an admirable step for the young royal. Standing up for his wife, for his family, and demanding honesty and accuracy of news outlets who may influence the British people, is hopefully a step forward in holding people accountable for their words.
I’m not going to lie. Lizzo is the full figured, talented, determined queen of my heart. She is breaking down barriers, trampling expectations regarding size and sexuality, and shows no signs of stopping. The classically trained flutist is not afraid to show off her figure, dominating the stage in performances at the VMA’s and more, appearing in the smash hit Hustlers along side Jennifer Lopez, and posing nude on her 2019 album cover for for Cuz I Love You. She is proving that size does not equal talent, and that bigger girls do not have to settle for the background or sidekick characters. Most recently, Lizzo is featured on the cover of Vogue, looking fierce and has fans and celebs alike singing her praises. We love her bold honesty, her love of herself, and can’t wait to see her take on 2020 as 100% that b*tch we love.
We all know Mrs. John Legend is a sassy, smart and no-holds-barred queen of social media. She says what she thinks, what she feels, and does not back down. From her hard hitting honesty with regard to her ‘mom bod’, and her outspoken candid images and videos of life inside an A List home, she bridges the gap between celebrity and regular girl. But what really solidifies her place on this list is her recent take down of Donald Trump that gave us life. It is no secret that Chrissy does not support the ‘president’. But when Mr. Trump used herself and husband John as part of one of his many Twitter rants, Teigen clapped back. And anyone who takes on the Trump with such hilarity and contempt is aces in my book.
Of course, Chrissy wasn’t about to take the insult in silence. She is a boss bitch – and we mean that in the best way. Everyone could learn a lot from her.
For anyone who has been watching the news and the increasing pressure from the public towards law makers regarding climate change, we are pretty sure you’ve heard of this young lady. The Swedish 16 year old is an environmental activist who has taken the world by storm with her eloquence and determination, catching the attention of the world. Thunberg address the UN Climate Change Conference in an passionate speech, which soon inspired school climate strikes all over the world as young people stood up and demanded their voices be heard. Featured on the cover of TIME magazine as a next generation leader, as well as being one of the 100 most influential people for 2019. Even at such a young age, Thunberg was nominated for a 2019 Nobel Peace Prize. She has opened peoples eyes to the reality of the climate crisis, and inspired people young and old to stand up for what they believe in.
Richard ‘Prince Ea’ Williams is a social media influencer, spoken word poet and artist that has gained quite a following online for his straight talking videos on a myriad of social topics. From climate change, equality, involvement and more, Prince Ea grabs your attention with his ability to put the reality of the worlds injustices front and center. His YouTube videos have gained more than 200 million views, and include videos on race, spirituality and life-work balance. In 2009, the artist created the “Make ‘SMART’ Cool” movement (“Sophisticating Minds And Revolutionizing Thought”) which is to “promote intelligence to everyone, everywhere and integrate it with hip-hop. To create and nurture, without discrimination or preference, a community of free-thinking individuals under the singular purpose of promoting the ideals of education, intelligence, unity and creativity throughout the world at large.”
If you’re a fan of America’s Got Talent, then you probably already know this talented young man. The autistic, blind 22 year old wowed judges during the initial auditions, gaining a Golden Buzzer from judge Gabrielle Union, and a standing ovation. His soulful voice resonated into our hearts and minds, singing songs such as ‘A Song For You’ and ‘Bridge Over Troubled Waters’. Challenging judge “You are genuinely one of most extraordinary people and talents we’ve had the great fortune to have on any show we’ve ever made. God bless you.” Lee has crashed down barriers for people with disabilities, proving that no matter the challenges you may face, you can overcome them and show the world who you are. His mom was quick to point out how music is Kodi’s happy place, and that it was clear from the start he was meant to be an entertainer. We were inspired by his talent, his determination and can’t wait to see what he will achieve.
If you are looking for someone who smashes through barriers and expectations, look no further than Billy Porter. The 50 year old entertainer has not only dominated Broadway and captivated audiences, but he is a fashion icon as well. Porter erases gender norms in fashion, and 2019 was his year. At the 2019 Golden Globes, Porter gained attention for wearing an embroidered suit and pink cape by Randi Rahm, but it didn’t stop there. At the 2019 Academy awards, he donned a velvet gown and fitted tuxedo jacket by Christian Siriano that left jaws on the floor. I’m not going to lie. I was jealous at how incredible he looked as he rocked the look. Goodbye gender norms, hello fabulous in anything you feel confident in.
Usually, we try to keep focused on entertainment and things that help us feel warm and fuzzy. Politics is definitely not that, and yet we couldn’t in good conscience have this list and not include Nancy Pelosi. The Speaker of the House has taken on one of the most tumultuous presidencies in history, and the story is far from over. Prior to her current position as speaker, she served as Speaker from 2007-2011, and was the first woman in history in the position, and is the highest ranking elected woman in United States history. On September 24, 2019, Pelosi announced the beginning of impeachment hearings in to Donald Trump, and has led the charge in keeping the American people informed in this time of uncertainty in government. Whether it be for taking on a president, or showing that women can hold their own in politics, Pelosi is someone to look up to.
Larson is more than just a Hollywood A-lister or Oscar winner. From sexual rights, equality, or empowerment, Brie is quite outspoken when it comes to things she feels passionate about. “I’d put it all on the line and be an activist for the rest of my life because it doesn’t feel right to me to be quiet” She has spoken out against the gender wage gap in Hollywood, as well as collaborated with other women in the Times Up movement to protect women from harassment and discrimination. She is inspiring women to no longer be silent, to be powerful and strong, and never back down.
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson
When you’re The Rock, people will probably assume you have everything. Fame, fortune, a beautiful family. But recently, Dwayne Johnson spoke out about a personal struggle: depression. After an interview where Johnson spoke out about his troubled childhood and ongoing struggles with mental health, the Ballers star took to social media to talk about the issue.
“We all go thru the sludge/[expletive] and depression never discriminates. Took me a long time to realize it but the key is to not be afraid to open up. Especially us dudes have a tendency to keep it in. You’re not alone.”
Opening up about your health is not an easy thing. It puts you in a vulnerable position that opens you up to judgement and a lot of questions. But Emilia Clarke did just that – opened up about her two brain aneurysms that almost took her life.
And rather than just speaking about them and leaving it at that – the actress took it a step further and created SameYou.org – an organization that helps to raise money to help those with brain injuries.
The actress is a fierce warrior for change and is taking her fight to change the healthcare system for brain injuries. She has never let what happened to her define her, but she does make sure that she uses it to help others. And that is inspiring in our book.
Another celebrity using their name and power for good. Dakota had posted on her Instagram a phone number, talking about how women of the world face extreme violence and sexual harassment and asking them to tell their stories. She didn’t want to speak for them. She wanted victims to be heard. And heard they were.
At the end of September, she announced The Left Ear podcast. She made the announcement on her Instagram.
One year ago I asked women and girls around the world to call me and leave a voicemail telling their stories of sexual violence, harassment, and gender based inequalities. I didn’t want to speak on their behalf, I wanted to listen to them. This is The Left Ear. A podcast where you will find the voicemails I listened to. To protect anonymity the voices have been slightly pitched, and any identifiers have been removed. Other than that, they have not been edited. These are real stories from real people around the world.
She named it The Left Ear, because it is the ear closest to your heart. And your heart will be affected by listening. She makes our list because she is an advocate and that is inspiring.
There are moments that change your life that you don’t see coming. For actor Kevin Hart that happened in September when he was involved in a car crash. The actor suffered a very serious back injury.
Two months after the accident, the actor took to social media to talk about the incident.
“I was involved in an accident. My world was forever changed,” the actor wrote at the beginning of the video.
Kevin has had a long and hard road to recovery and what makes him inspiring is that he has been open and honest with everyone about it. He wants people to see the truth and is talking about it. He’s recovering and showing that the road to recovery isn’t easy, but it is worthwhile. He’s a patient man and knows that he will get there.
And seeing someone show that much vulnerability is inspiring.