Who have been the most compelling people of 2020? We put our heads together to find the ones who inspired us, made us think, made us jump for joy or maybe even moved us to tears throughout this trying year. Over the next two days, we present The OZY 100. Dive in and let us know who would make your top 100 by replying to this email.
Mikita Mikado. Even as “defund the police” became a rallying cry for some anti-brutality protesters, Mikado hoped to stem violence by funding them. That’s because in his native Belarus, police who want to quit the force are often stopped by unfair contracts that plunge them into debt if they lay down their nightsticks. By paying off cops’ debts, Mikado, 34, enabled them to quit the force. Read more on OZY.
Anita Iacovelli.The 12-year-old student in Turin, Italy, had a simple message when she created a poster in November declaring: “Learning at school is our right.” It caught on, launching a nationwide protest against pandemic-inspired online schooling, arguing that schools are safe — as most of the rest of Europe has managed to keep in-person schooling.
DeRay Mckesson. One of the most prominent faces of Black Lives Matter, Mckesson (above center) saw his stature grow in the post–George Floyd moment by promoting Campaign Zero, which proposed manageable solutions for police reform. But while some departments adopted his recommendations, Mckesson, 35, had to withstand severe blowback for perhaps overselling the impact of reforms that “defund the police” activists say only nibble at the edges of the problem.
Keshet Starr. Divorce is such a normal part of modern life that many take it for granted. But in the Orthodox Jewish community, women seeking to dissolve bad marriages can find themselves stymied by religious law — until Starr (above right), 35, a groundbreaking mediator fighting for women’s autonomy, steps in and wins them freedom. Read more on OZY.
Cassia Bechara.As the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged Brazil and President Jair Bolsonaro downplayed the devastation, the Landless Worker Movement, asocialist farmers collective, stepped in to feed homeless families and distribute medical equipment. The grassroots movement is largely leaderless — to prevent their leaders from getting assassinated — but as a top communications official, Bechara is their face to the world. Read more on OZY.
Anita Hill. Once a tabloid punchline, Hill (above left) built a legal career that has long since transcended her allegations of sexual harassment against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Hill, 64, is now a leader in the #MeToo movement. But will her long history with Joe Biden, who presided over the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings where Hill was unfairly grilled, get more complicated now that he’s our next president? Watch Hill on The Carlos Watson Show.
Kusha Kapila. One of India’s rising comedy stars, Kapila, 31, hasn’t let herself succumb to the lure of the boys’ club. Instead, she uses her massive social media platform to speak out about racism and homophobia, and to talk about her own journey toward body-positivity. Read more on OZY.
Teens4Equality. The brainchild of six teenage girls in Nashville, Tennessee, this organization — formed when they wanted to attend a George Floyd protest and then realized they needed to start their own — managed to draw 10,000 people into the streets. Inspired by the teen activists of Parkland, Florida, the six young women are now positioned to focus attention on social justice issues across the U.S. Read more on OZY.
Assa Traoré. Following Floyd’s killing, Traoré, 35, reignited the racial justice fight in France by drawing tens of thousands of protesters into the streets of Paris to call attention to the 2016 death of her brother Adama in police custody. The former special education teacher is now at the forefront of a movement. Read more on OZY.
Art Acevedo. Houston’s police chief might not fit the technical definition of “activist,” but he’s been at the forefront of trying to heal police-community relations post–George Floyd. The 56-year-old Cuban immigrant is setting an example in the fight against “lawful but awful” policing. Watch Acevedo on The Carlos Watson Show.
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Eric Yuan. As the founder and CEO of Zoom, thevideoconferencing app, it is estimated that Yuan has made more than $12 billion since March when the platform became a household name and a practically indispensable commodity. The 50-year-old billionaire first got the idea for Zoom while trying to figure out the best way to keep in touch with his long-distance girlfriend.
Linda Rendle. Clorox’s CEO and one of just 38 female CEOs on the Fortune 500 list, Rendle took the reins during a busy year for the company, the world's largest producer ofdisinfectant and cleaning products. After 17 years climbing the company ranks, the 42-year-old’s main challenge has been meeting coronavirus-fueled demand.
Steven Galanis. After seeing a video message from aprominent NFL player congratulating a friend on the birth of his son, Galanis, 32, co-founded Cameo, a company that allows fans to buy short, personalized video messages from celebrities. With more than 1 million videos sold by more than 40,000 creators, the Chicago-based company has exploded in popularity during quarantine.
Tony Xu. Born in Nanjing, China, and raised in poverty in Illinois, Xu, 36, co-founded DoorDash, the on-demandfood delivery company, as a Stanford undergraduate in 2013. Now, after the company’s recent IPO and a coronavirus-fueled surge in business, it has been valued at more than $30 billion.
Aaron T. Walker. Philanthropies, with a mostly white power structure, channel disproportionate amounts of money to white-led organizations, even with their stated missions to advance social justice.Camelback Ventures, founded by Walker, is trying to close the funding gap, in part by staging racial justice training for white executives at philanthropies and corporations. Read more on OZY.
Jason Kilar. In November, Warner Bros. made the surprising announcement that it would release the blockbuster Wonder Woman 1984, along with its entire slate of 2021 films, both in theaters and onHBO Max. The man behind a decision that has disrupted the cinema monopoly on new releases and could permanently shift the industry landscape? None other than Kilar (above left), 49, the WarnerMedia CEO and former chief executive of Hulu, who has faced intense backlash from Hollywood as a result.
Zhang Yiming. The incredible growth in popularity of the social media app TikTok has not just created a new generation of internet stars but also generated a social media billionaire. The 37-year-old Chinese software engineer and entrepreneur, Yiming (above right), who founded the app’s parent company, is currently estimated to have a net worth north of $16 billion.
Indra Nooyi. Born in Chennai, India, Nooyi (above center), 65, studied at the Yale School of Management before eventually becoming PepsiCo’s fifth CEO in 2006. During her 12-year tenure, the company’s share price more than doubled. Now celebrated by everyone from Ivanka Trump to Kamala Harris, the Amazon board member is a rumored candidate for commerce secretary, but even if she doesn’t land the post, she will likely be influential on advisory boards for the incoming Biden administration.
Ntando Kubheka. Entrepreneur Kubheka, 40, has launched a platform to insure the properties of millions of poor South Africans — even if they live in shacks or homes without title deeds. Kubheka’s company, Sugar, is gaining steam after launching this year, and he has dreams of taking it global. Read more on OZY.
André Penha. The co-founder and CTO of QuintoAndar has seen his company flower into Brazil’s largest real estate rental platform by digitizing the market — a crucial function during the pandemic. Backed by $335 million in funding, the company is now getting into housing services.
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A gift from us to you. Laugh your way into the new year in style. We’re bringing you our favorite funny people from The Carlos Watson Show and want you to tell us who had you giggling the hardest — from Lamorne Morris, the actor who rewrote race “rules” on New Girl, to Aida Rodriguez, the rising-star stand-up hoping to unify America through comedy. Check out our comedian extravaganza here, and let us know who you pick by following The Carlos Watson Show on Instagram and voting in our Stories.
Kate Bedingfield. Helping pilot a winning presidential campaign as deputy manager is hard enough, but doing it from home during the pandemic while fending off a digital sphere rife with misinformation and keeping Joe Biden focused on the issues that matter? Astounding. The greatest win for the 38-year-old communications director — and the designated White House communications director — may have been convincing the famous family man to talk about his embattled son as little as possible.
Sidney Powell. The Trump campaign lawyer (above center) trying to overturn the election declared that her team would “release the Kraken.” That claim may have proved underwhelming, but for Powell, 65, there is no denying that the doubts she helped sow about democracy among the American electorate will last long past her moment in the spotlight.
Andrew Yang. The entrepreneur with the dorky “MATH” slogan and awkward debate-side manner nonetheless won over legions of voters — or at the very least, online supporters — with his creative policy proposals, particularly universal basic income, which could trigger a “Medicare for All”–type shift in public opinion in 2024. In the meantime, Yang (above right) is an early front-runner for a New York City mayoral run next year. Watch Yang on The Carlos Watson Show.
Doug Collins. Trump’s impeachment bulldog bucked the GOP establishment by challenging handpicked Sen. Kelly Loeffler, forcing her far to the right and into a pivotal January runoff that will help decide control of the Senate. And although he lost, Collins’ unabashed support for Trump’s unfounded election-rigging theories has positioned the 54-year-old to run a GOP primary challenge against Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in 2022.
Stacey Abrams. Speaking of the Peach State, Abrams, 47, who years ago sat down with an OZY reporter and detailed her plan to paint Georgia blue using pie charts, saw her dream come true (at least partially) with Biden’s win there. Now she is organizing for the January Senate runoffs and has an eye on a 2022 governor bid of her own.
Emilia Sykes. Her Democratic Party suffered a massive, unexpected loss in her state. But that doesn’t stop Sykes, the Ohio state House minority leader, from making this list, because the 34-year-old (who is carving a path similar to Abrams’) earned credibility by calling out her party two weeks before Election Day for failing to reach young voters of color.
Jamaal Bowman. He went from a self-proclaimed “street kid” to the halls of power as an educator who supports criminal justice reform, Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. In July, the 44-year-old (above left) upset a three-decade incumbent to earn himself a place in Congress alongside fellow influential New York progressives from AOC to Mondaire Jones. Watch him on The Carlos Watson Show.
William Barr. The attorney general drew furor from the left for spinning the Mueller Report and intervening in politically charged cases — effectively leading the Republican defense of Trump. That is, until Barr, 70, announced his resignation in December while refusing to appoint a special counsel to investigate the president’s unsupported claims of a stolen election.
Gretchen Whitmer. Trump called her “the woman in Michigan” and local Detroit rapper Gmac Cash dubbed her “Big Gretch,” but whatever you call her, the hard-charging 49-year-old governor had herself a year — from delivering the Democratic response to Trump’s State of the Union to being the target of a kidnapping plot by radicals enraged at her staunch commitment to COVID-19 safety precautions. Stay tuned for her appearance on The Carlos Watson Show in the coming weeks.
Tucker Carlson. While his ideas can be wildly controversial, the record-breaking Fox News host solidified himself as a beacon for populist conservatism that isn’t likely to fade. If Trump doesn’t run in 2024, there’s talk that the 51-year-old former top-tier magazine writer could run for the presidency himself.
Kyler Murray. At just 5-foot-10, 207 pounds, he’s average Joe–sized, not your typical NFL leviathan, which led to plenty of doubters when he was picked first in the 2019 draft. And yet this season he’s arrived as one of the most captivating players in the game, with his incredible speed and cannon arm making the Arizona Cardinals into a playoff contender.
Sarah Fuller.By kicking a pair of extra points in Vanderbilt’s game against Tennessee, Fuller (above left) became the first woman to score points in a college football Power Five conference game, making her a national sensation. Her reaction? Essentially a shrug: She was just helping out the football team on hiatus from Vanderbilt’s women’s soccer team, where she had just celebrated an SEC championship.
Adam Silver.The NBA commissioner built the bubble — an idea that sounded preposterous at first but turned out to be an incredible pandemic success and model for others. He also deftly dealt with the racial reckoning roiling America, allowing players to express themselves by protesting at the games and wearing special jerseys.
Ezi Magbegor.The youngest player in the WNBA, this Aussie-Nigerian is all too familiar with racism. An advocate for marginalized Australians, she fit in quickly as a social justice activist in her debut WNBA season. Plus, she came away with a championship ring with the Seattle Storm. Read more on OZY.
James Harden. Sure, 2020 was LeBron’s year, but Harden is the most fascinating player in the league. The ball-dominant gunner put up 34 points a game — and 7.5 assists — but is controversial for a style of play that can grind ball movement to a halt. Now, after another premature playoff exit for his Houston Rockets, Harden (above center) is disgruntled and demanding a trade. In the star-for-hire NBA, that tends to work, but Houston is keeping him for now.
Bubba Wallace. The only Black driver on NASCAR’s top circuit, Wallace carries unique standing in his sport. So when he said NASCAR should ban the Confederate battle flag from its events, the racing body acted quickly. Now he is teaming up with novice NASCAR owner Michael Jordan, and Wallace will drive the No. 23 car next season. Watch Wallace on The Carlos Watson Show.
Valentina “Bullet” Shevchenko. The No. 2 female fighter in the UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings is this Kyrgyzstan product who can not only kick your ass as she moves with astounding speed — hence the nickname — but can act too. She made her on-screen debut this year in the Halle Berry film Bruised.Read more on OZY.
Clayton Kershaw. Perhaps the most splendid pitcher of his generation, Kershaw had been saddled for the past decade with the label of playoff choker. That all changed in 2020, when the Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series, breaking the franchise’s 32-year drought and giving Kershaw an incredible catharsis — after pitching two of the finest games of his career.
Robert Lewandowski. He was robbed when France Football canceled the Ballon d’Or, awarded annually to the world’s finest soccer player, insisting that the COVID-19-shortened season made it impossible to judge. Well, the Polish-born striker more than earned his way onto the OZY 100 as he continues to put up more than one goal per game and his Bayern Munich won the Champions League, squashing Lionel Messi’s FC Barcelona, 8-2, along the way.
Naomi Osaka. At 23, Osaka (above right) is the highest-paid female athlete ever for a single year, after pulling in $37 million in prize winnings and endorsements in 2019 — including deals with many brands in her native Japan. The tennis star, who bagged her second U.S. Open title this year, has also been outspoken on race and social justice issues.
Elizabeth Hinton. The 37-year-old Yale professor’s research into the implementation of federal law enforcement programs beginning in the mid-1960s inspired her to transfer her education from the campus to the community — to work directly with law enforcement, community groups and nonprofits. Read more on OZY.
Michelle vanDellen. Coordinating more than 60,000 people in 100-plus countries, this University of Georgia researcher is helping run the world’s largest study on the psychological impacts of COVID-19. Read more on OZY.
Ruth Wilson Gilmore. Gilmore, 70, cuts to the quick of the moral code of the modern Western world when she asks: Do we really need prisons? Her kind of thinking is gaining currency in the post-George Floyd era, and she’s a geographer to boot.
Carlota Perez. When Perez starts talking about technology, the 81-year-old British-Venezuelan scholar at University College London is more than worth listening to. Especially when she starts talking about new consumerism and how not to destroy ourselves.
Imad Fawzi Shueibi. The 59-year-old Syrian thinker (above right) predicts a new world order post-pandemic, as humbled global powers rebuild a new system based on cooperation. This is a self-serving view from someone close to the Assad regime who doesn’t want foreign meddling in Syria, but one worth paying attention to nonetheless.
Susan Neiman. As part of the continuing conversation in America about reparations and atoning for past wrongs, the 65-year-old moral philosopher (above left) has made a major contribution, embodied in her book Learning From the Germans: Race and the Memory of Evil, which sets out how the U.S. might get its house in order. Strong words from a daughter of the South.
Cornel West. The political philosopher and Harvard professor was a vociferous Bernie Sanders backer, meaning he’s unlikely to cozy up to Biden. But West (above center), 67, has compelling views on the “politics of solidarity” and will remain an influential voice on the left.
Heather Cox Richardson. A 58-year-old Boston College American history professor has become an unlikely journalism sensation via the platform Substack, where she’s on track to earn $1 million per year from subscriptions to her newsletter, a straightforward rundown of the news filtered through a historian’s lens.
Ephraim Isaac. With the Tigray region of Ethiopia at war, it’s worth checking in with the Ethiopian-born Harvard scholar who serves as board chair of the Ethiopian Peace and Development Center. Fluent in 17 languages, the 84-year-old can explain the conundrum of his homeland in any number of ways — and is committed to mediation to solving it.