Time magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world includes several Latinx. The list, divided into five section including pioneers, titans, artists, leaders, and icons, features almost an equal number of men and women who are leaders in their community. From controversial figures to change-makers, the list features prominent individuals including congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a asylum seeker who was separated from her baby at the border, to groundbreaking indigenous actress Yalitza Aparicio. Editor-in-Chief of Time Edward Felsenthal wroe about the development of the list stating, “We all have teachers, some we know intimately, others who inspire from the page or the screen.” Here is the list of the inspiring Latinx public figures who have made an indelible mark on the world.
Yalitza Aparicio rose to fame acting in Alfonso Cuarón’s film “Roma” on Netflix, her first ever acting role. She plays Cleo, a nanny and housekeeper for an upper-middle-class family in Mexico City. Aparicio based some of her character on her own mother’s experience as a domestic worker. She became the first indigenous woman ever nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress and only the second Mexican woman nominated after Salma Hayek in Frida. In December 2018, she became the first indigenous women on the cover of Vogue Mexico, next to the phrase “In tiu’n ntav’i,” which means “a star is born” in the indigenous Mixtec language.
“She focuses on being a force of change and empowerment for indigenous women, embracing the symbolic value of what she has done and carrying that responsibility with dignity and grace,” wrote director Alfonso Cuarón.
Born in Maiquetía, Venezuela in 1920, Luchita Hurtado migrated to New York at age 8 and for the past seventy years has been a relatively unknown artist. That’s all changing now, sparked by her solo show at Hauser & Wirth in New York earlier this year and she’ll receive her first institutional show at the Serpentine in London later this year, as well as a survey at Mexico’s Museo Tamayo in 2020. Her paintings explore the interconnectedness of beings, morphing human bodies into mountains and bulbous fruits into curvy bellies, representing women as powerful and nurturing entities.
“Her vision of the human body as a part of the world, not separate from nature, is more urgent today than ever,” wrote Hans Ulrich Obrist, artistic director at the Serpentine Galleries.
Both loved and reviled, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with as the US Representative for New York’s 14th congressional district. The self-proclaimed democratic socialist took the primary from 10-term incumbent Republican Anthony Pappas in the November 2018 election, becoming the youngest woman ever to serve in Congress at the age of 29. The Bronx-born Puerto Rican now represents the district that includes the borough she grew up in and has been promoting her Green New Deal addressing climate change, universal health care, and tuition-free public college among other progressive issues.
“A year ago, she was taking orders across a bar. Today, millions are taking cues from her… And she’s just getting started,” wrote Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Puerto Rican reggaeton and Latin trap artist Ozuna, 27, garnered fans and acclaim with his 2017 debut album Odisea. He quickly blazed his way onto the Billboard charts not once but eight times in a week on Billboard’s Hot Latin songs chart, becoming the fourth artist to ever achieve that. Born Juan Carlos Ozuna Rosado in San Juan, Ozuna made his name in Latin America and is now achieving the same level of ubiquity in the Latin music in the US with songs including “La Modelo” featuring Cardi B, “Bebé” a collaboration with Anuel Aa, and “Ahora Dice” with J Balvin and Arcángel. He is the artist with the most 1 billion-view videos on YouTube.
“I still clearly remember the chamaquito who came to my recording studio to ask me to be on a remix to his song “No Quiere Enamorarse.” His name was Ozuna, and what got my attention was his tenacity, his sublime and unique voice, and his drive,” wrote Daddy Yankee.
Andrés Manuel López Obrador
Andrés Manuel López Obrador, also known as AMLO, is the left-wing president of Mexico who promised to bring “radical” change to his country. Some of those changes include: removing former presidents’ pensions, flying commercial in coach instead of on the presidential plane, and opening Los Pinos — the Mexican White House, Executive Office Building and Blair House— to the public as a museum. Additionally, he raised Mexico’s minimum wage nationwide and double it along the border and he has plans to build a Mayan train in the Yucatán Peninsula.
“More than 30 million Mexicans voted for a change in the last election, and that’s exactly what they got,” wrote journalist Jorge Ramos.
Politician Juan Guaidó is the President of the National Assembly of Venezuela who is also recognized as acting President of Venezuela since taking a public oath January of this year. In that time he’s become a political leader contesting the presidency of Nicolás Maduro who has held the role since 2013 despite condemnation amid accusations of crimes against humanity during his presidency. Thirty-five-year-old Guaidó has been politically active since his time as a student in Caracas where he led protests against then-president Hugo Chávez. As of March of this year, more than 80 percent of Venezuelans support him as acting president and he has a 61 percent overall approval rating.
“By being in the right place at the right time, he was able to finally unite the opposition and become a beacon of hope for a country that is yearning for a rapid and peaceful change,” wrote Juan Manuel Santos. former president of Colombia.
Born Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Pope Francis has been a powerful leader beyond Catholicism, known for straying from strict religious ideals. In 2013, when he became the first pope from the Americas at the age of 76, he was also named Person of the Year by Time magazine, joining the ranks of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII, the only other popes to be awarded the title. He’s known for softening on issues including abortion and being more open to the LGBTQ community as well as focusing on outreach for those living in poverty.
“He believes we should not only pay attention to the symptoms, however tragic they are, but we should also go deeper and discern what are the roots of this “clericalism”—this evil abuse of conscience and power,” wrote Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna of Malta, a leading reformer on clerical sex abuse.
Trans actress Indya Moore’s journey to stardom began when she started modeling at the age of 15 for Dior and Gucci. The Afro-Boricua Bronx native, 24, is known for her role as trans sex worker Angel on the FX series, Pose, for which she’s received acclaim. She’s set to star in Magic Hour the upcoming reimagining of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and sticking to her modeling roots, she was also in a campaign for Louis Vuitton. Though she’s achieved success, she also endured prejudice when she entered foster care at 14 after her parents struggled to recognize her gender identity, though she says they’ve since improved their relationship. She’s known for being a vocal advocate on social media, calling out inequality, racism, and transphobia.
“But a greater gift has been watching Indya rise from an adolescence navigating foster care in the Bronx to critical acclaim as an actress and model using her voice to center the marginalized communities she comes from,” wrote writer/director Janet Mock.
The story of Mirian G. (a pseudonym for her safety) made headlines after she’d been separated from her 18-month-old child in immigration detention in February 2018. The 29-year-old Honduran was detained in a center in Taylor, Texas while her toddler was kept about 120 miles away in a facility in San Antonio for months. Her son is one of 2,700 children who were separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border last year. On May 2, she was reunited with her son after two months and 11 days. She wrote about her ordeal for CNN to raise awareness of her story and the treatment of women and families in detention centers.
“I cannot begin to imagine what Mirian and others like her went through. Being an American, for me, means owning the good parts of our country as well as the unjust parts. This has not been a proud moment for us, but I find Mirian’s courage inspiring. Welcome home, Mirian. We need you,” wrote actor Kumail Nanjiani.