Keke Palmer on TIME100

Source: TIME100 / TIME Magazine

Every year, TIME publishes the TIME100 Next, a list inspired by their flagship TIME100, which recognizes 100 rising stars from across industries and around the world.

Since there isn’t just one way to have an impact, there is no one way by which TIME measures the influence essential to its selections. As a result, and by design, the 2022 TIME100 Next list features musicians as well as medical professionals, government officials as well as movement leaders, and high-profile whistleblowers alongside top CEOs, all curated by TIME’s journalists and informed by their reporting. What unites these individuals are their extraordinary efforts to shape our world and to define our future.

Like the annual list of the TIME100 most influential people in the world, the TIME100 Next list features surprising pairing of the list members and guest contributors TIME selects to write about them. The third annual list includes:

Lizzo on SZA

SZA and I first met years ago in Minneapolis. I was a fan of her music, so when she came to town, my friends and I went to her show. We ended up taking a selfie together in the bathroom. I still send her that selfie from time to time, because we had just met and didn’t know that we would have this long relationship. A year later, I booked a tour and she was the headliner. Throughout the experience, she was just so kind and so cool. After that, I literally watched her blow up. When she dropped CTRL, her debut studio album, it was a cultural f-cking reset. She changed the world! The authenticity in her craft—the way she’s able to tell her story and the way she uses melody—is extraordinary. No one can replicate that. When she’s onstage, she’s timeless. She’s someone who’s the real deal, and I think that she’s well on her way to being regarded as one of the greatest songwriters and singers of all time. All she needs is that pen and that voice and her story, and she’s going to be with us for a long time.

Michael B. Jordan on Jonathan Majors

When I saw Jonathan Majors in The Last Black Man in San Francisco, I thought, Man, this guy has so many layers. He can be so many different things, which is one of his superpowers. He’s a chameleon. As he dissolves into these different characters, you can’t help but be blown away by his talent. There’s something really captivating about his presence, and the choices he makes as an actor.

We’re very similar in a lot of ways. We bonded during the time we spent together during the production of Creed III. We created a brotherhood during that film: you sweat together, you bleed together, you cry together, laugh together. It’s a whole process.

There’s a strong empathy to Jonathan and to his work. He allows people to go on the character’s journey. That’s a really great quality for an actor to have because it invites you into the film’s world. He’s an incredible talent and leading man—one I’m glad to have worked with. I’m just so impressed by how he’s handling the whirlwind he’s in, and where he’s getting ready to go.

Viola Davis on Lashana Lynch 

Lashana Lynch is a spiritual and professional life force, a divine light keeper. It permeates from her when she enters a room. As a performer, she holds bold, quiet, unapologetic confidence and the wisdom of knowing what she was put on this earth to do—and a willingness to inject it in others. It is that rare gift that only lives in our heroes. She is someone who will fight beside you, hold you up when you cannot stand, see you despite your invisibility to others, and blast a hole in this lifetime to remind us that she was HERE! She is an Agojie, a warrior, and a titan who will influence an entire generation.

Jason Momoa on Yahya Abdul-Mateen II

I fell in love with Yahya Abdul-­Mateen II when we met while filming Aquaman in Australia. He was playing the bad guy. It’s extremely challenging to transform your body into playing these superhero characters. The things he did to become Black Manta—I can’t even do it like that. When I was in the gym working out, I’d listen to a bunch of different music. When Yahya was training, it would just be quiet. He was so focused. It’s wonderful watching him on set, with what he commits to each scene and how much he cares for his craft. We always talk about what our next movie might be. When you decide to make a film with someone, you’re going on a long journey. And I tell him: “Dude, if you see a role where I get to support you in something, let me know.” He is an absolutely beautiful man, inside and out.

Justin Timberlake on Ja Morant

Ja Morant, the all-star point guard for the Memphis Grizzlies, is a human highlight reel. The way he jumps over opponents on his massive power dunks changes the way you think about the game. How is he doing what he’s doing?

We’ve got a unicorn in Memphis, my hometown. Every once in a while, certain players come along and really change the culture of the game. Ja is emerging as a face of the NBA for good reason. The only thing missing for him is championship hardware. I know he’s going to go after it hard this season.

He really exemplifies Memphis because of his mix of toughness, confidence, and humility. He brings joy to people around him. You see it in his interactions with fans, especially young ones. You see it in the clip that went viral this summer, when Ja surprised a waitress with a $500 tip. You see it in the heel-­tapping dance, the “Griddy,” that he’s helped popularize.

That joy is just Ja’s nature. He is who he is, and he demands respect. Because he’s so damn good.

Allyson Felix on Maria Taylor

I’d been a fan of Maria Taylor’s for a while before I met her. We have both been in some situations where we’ve had to stand on our principles, and stand firm on them. She’s navigated spaces that are quite challenging as she moved up through the ranks, and she’s done it in a really graceful way. And now to see where she is—hosting Football Night in America—is really incredible. I think about my daughter and the people I want her to look up to, and it’s women like Maria. In a space where you don’t see many women of color, I feel like she really shines. She’s so knowledgeable, and so relatable, and she has so much integrity. Early on in her career, I’m sure that probably seemed very ambitious, to be anchoring a show that so many people tune in to, but I think she shows that you absolutely can reach those ambitious goals. I think that a lot of people can probably see themselves in Maria. I know that I can, and that she continues to inspire me. She does her job brilliantly. I put no limits on her.

Queen Latifah on Keke Palmer

Keke Palmer is one of the most talented human beings I’ve ever met.

When she was younger and we first crossed paths, she already was brimming with so much energy and power, so much humor, and so much light and professionalism. Then I got to meet her family and her siblings, and I immediately understood how she was already so remarkably together at such a young age: she was surrounded by true love and true caring.

Watching Keke evolve as a young woman has been a joy. She is the epitome of grace, poise, and honesty. To watch her grow as an artist, taking on a range of challenging roles—­including her stunning performances in Akeelah and the Bee, Pimp, and the critically acclaimed 2022 blockbuster Nope—has been inspiring to me as a fellow actor. Not to mention, the girl can sing! But then again, this young champion has been inspiring adults for many, many years.

Keke is the future, and I can’t wait to see the things that she will do as she continues on her journey.

Let us know what you think about the names you see in the comments. To view the full list, head over to time.com/next