UPDATED: Check out the most influential people of 2021!
From politicians to musicians, activists, actors, billionaires, and even the occasional retiree, anybody can become one of the most influential people of the year, especially in a year like 2020. As a pandemic upended virtually every aspect of life and culture across the globe, unexpected celebrities were able to use their platforms to make a difference while familiar figures found their voices amplified.
Who was the most important person this year? That's an unexpectedly complicated question for an unexpectedly complicated year. Political leaders and titans of industry are obvious answers, but 2020 also found unexpected people exerting influence and changing the culture. Any year in which Joe Exotic becomes one of the most famous people alive while civil unrest shakes a democracy is on for books, and complicates annual inventories like Time's list of 100 influential people.
- Anthony Stephen "Tony" Fauci ( ) (born December 24, 1940) is an American immunologist who has made substantial contributions to HIV/AIDS research and other immunodeficiencies, both as a scientist and ...more
- Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. (/ˈbaɪdən/ BY-dən; born November 20, 1942) is an American politician serving as the 46th and current president of the United States. A member of the Democratic Party, Biden ...more
- Kamala Devi Harris (born October 20, 1964) is an American lawyer and politician serving as the 49th vice president of the United States. A member of the Democratic Party, Harris is the second African ...more
- Stacey Y. Abrams is the House Minority Leader for the Georgia General Assembly and State Representative for the 89th House District. She is a member of the Democratic Party.
- Barack Hussein Obama born August 4, 1961is an American attorney and politician who served as the 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017. A member of the Democratic Party, he was the ...more
- Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama (née Robinson; born January 17, 1964) is an American lawyer, university administrator and writer, who was the first lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017. She ...more
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (born October 13, 1989) is an American activist, community organizer, and democratic-socialist politician. On June 26, 2018, Ocasio-Cortez won the Democratic primary in New ...more
- Elon Reeve Musk (; born June 28, 1971) is a technology entrepreneur, investor, and engineer. He holds South African, Canadian, and U.S. citizenship and is the founder, CEO, and lead designer of ...more
- Donald John Trump (born June 14, 1946) is an American politician who served as the 45th president of the United States from 2017 to 2021. Before entering politics, he was a businessman and television ...more
- Dwayne Douglas Johnson (born May 2, 1972), also known by his ring name The Rock, is an American actor, producer, and former professional wrestler. Johnson was a professional wrestler for the World ...more
- William Henry Gates III (born October 28, 1955) is an American business magnate, investor, author, philanthropist, and humanitarian. He is best known as the principal founder of Microsoft ...more
- Lin-Manuel Miranda (born January 16, 1980) is an American composer, lyricist, rapper, singer, actor, playwright and producer, widely known for creating and starring in the Broadway musicals In the ...more
- Michael Jeffrey Jordan (born February 17, 1963), also known by his initials MJ, is an American former professional basketball player and the principal owner of the Charlotte Hornets of the National ...more
- Sean Patrick Hannity (born December 30, 1961) is an American talk show host and conservative political commentator. Hannity is the host of The Sean Hannity Show, a nationally syndicated talk radio ...more
- LeBron Raymone James Sr. (born December 30, 1984) is an American professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). His accomplishments include ...more
- Megan Anna Rapinoe (born July 5, 1985) is an American professional soccer player who plays for and captains Reign FC in the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL), playing primarily as a winger. As a ...more
- Nancy Patricia Pelosi (born March 26, 1940) is an American politician and a member of the Democratic Party. She has served as speaker of the United States House of Representatives since January 2019, ...more
- Joanne Rowling ( "rolling"; born 31 July 1965), better known by her pen name J. K. Rowling, is a British novelist, screenwriter, producer, and philanthropist. She is best known for writing the Harry ...more
- William Pelham Barr (born May 23, 1950) is an American lawyer and government official serving as the 85th United States Attorney General, in the Donald Trump administration since February 14, 2019. ...more
- Addison Mitchell McConnell Jr. (born February 20, 1942) is an American politician serving as Kentucky’s senior United States Senator and as Senate Majority Leader. McConnell is the second Kentuckian ...more
- Thomas Jeffrey Hanks (born July 9, 1956) is an American actor and filmmaker. Known for both his comedic and dramatic roles, Hanks is one of the most popular and recognizable film stars worldwide, and ...more
- Taylor Alison Swift (born December 13, 1989) is an American singer-songwriter. She is known for narrative songs about her personal life, which have received widespread media coverage. Born and raised ...more
- Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (; born 19 June 1964) is a British politician, serving as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party since July 2019. He has been ...more
- Oprah Gail Winfrey (born Orpah Gail Winfrey, January 29, 1954) is an American media executive, actress, talk show host, television producer and philanthropist. She is best known for her talk show ...more
- Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter (born September 4, 1981) is an American singer, songwriter and actress. Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Beyoncé performed in various singing and dancing competitions ...more