The celebrities who influenced culture in 2017 were fashion innovators, outspoken activists, social media influencers, cutting edge artists, and talented musicians. They used their platforms to create or say something original and when these 2017 influential celebrities spoke, the American public took notice. The very nature of being a famous person implied wielding a certain amount of influence, but the celebrity influencers on this list had a greater impact than the average famous person this year. Whether they started a movement - like Colin Kaepernick - or became the first person to do something - like Chance the Rapper, the first unsigned recording artist to win a Grammy without actually selling his music - these celebrity trendsetters were on the cutting edge of culture.
In a year dominated by news of Donald Trump, he can't help but make the list despite his technical current standing as a politician. As the President of the United States, his influence over American and global culture is hard to deny. But in a year filled with politics, this list is for those celebrities who impacted culture outside of legislature and policy. So leave your political opinions at the door and vote up the celebrity tastemakers who defined 2017.
Check out who is influencing people in 2019.
- In 2017, ex-Scientologist Leah Remini doubled down on her crusade against Scientology, deciding to focus on disconnection (the severance of all ties between Scientologists and non-Scientologists) and abuse.
- Her documentary series called Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath was nominated for an Emmy.
In 2017, Jordan Peele made history with his film Get Out when he became the first African-American writer-director with a $100M movie debut.
The film encourages conversation about what Peele calls the "post-racial lie" - i.e., that racism is no longer an issue in America now that an African American has served as president.
- In 2017, Corey Feldman made it his mission to take down what he identifies as a long-standing Hollywood "pedophile ring." He filed police reports, talked to the press, and appeared on sit-down talk shows.
- In a YouTube video that has been viewed more than 1 million times, he announced that he was ready to identify at least six alleged abusers, including one who remains powerful today. He later disclosed one of those abusers' names on live television.
- In 2017, Selena Gomez raised awareness for Lupus and was a personal advocate for taking needed mental health breaks. She took one herself disappearing from social media for a bit. When she returned she revealed she'd had a kidney transplant and was taking the time she needed to have a healthy mental state.
- She was one of the first to come out with allegations of sexual misconduct against Harvey Weinstein and hers was the voice that The New York Times led with in their investigative report.
- Ashley Judd, along with other celebrities like Rose McGowan who also went on the record about Weinstein's abuse, paved the way for more than 82 other women to come forward about the producer's abuse.
- The Harvey Weinstein fallout led to the airing of many more accusations against prominent men, both in and outside of the entertainment industry. Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Kevin Spacey, and many others similarly fell from public grace. The enormous impact of these accusations will be felt for years ahead.
- When she won Prince Harry's heart, she gave the world a wedding to look forward to and a love story to distract from the harsher things happening in the world.
- Once married, she will potentially be the first mixed-race royal in history - although historians now speculate that Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III was of African descent.
- His national anthem protest before NFL games influenced dozens of other NFL players to do the same and sparked a national conversation about race.
- We're leaving politics off this list, but let's be real... Donald Trump's impact on American culture in 2017 can't be ignored. From the way people talk, to the way they use Twitter, to the things that people care and share about online and in person, Donald Trump's influence can be felt in the far reaches of society.
- "Somebody called me too fat? [Crying-Laughter Emoji]" - Rihanna's comment on a fan's Instagram post about her weight.
- In 2017, the pop star got "thick" - or was she still "too skinny"? Internet trolls had plenty of opinions and Rihanna didn't care about any of them. She announced that she was happy in her skin, sending a welcome message of body positivity.