Good evening everyone. I am so excited to be here with you tonight for our first ever TIME 100 Next, surrounded by so many people who make my job seem boring. You are making art and leading movements. You are founding companies and flipping seats in Congress. Meanwhile I spent the past week making sure your names were spelled and punctuated correctly in TIME magazine. You’re welcome, Awkwafina.
Seriously though, all of you are here tonight because you are doing extraordinary things. Because you are shaping the future. Because you aren’t afraid to reject conventional wisdom and try something new.
Now I get it: to a lot of people, maybe even some of your bosses or your investors or your agents or even your peers, those goals might seem…hard. Risky. Expensive. Impossible.
But as I look around this room, and as I look at this list, I see people who defy odds every day.
People like Desus and Mero, who are rewriting the rules of late-night TV.
People like 30-year-old Tim Ellis, the youngest member of NASA’s space advisory council by two decades, who is building a machine that could 3-D print rockets on Mars.
People like Amanda Nguyen, who created a bill of rights for sexual assault survivors, and has now helped pass laws in 21 states.
People like Marsai Martin, who this year became the youngest executive producer in Hollywood history.
And people like Varshini Prakash, a leader of the Sunrise Movement here in America, and Carlos Alvarado, the president of Costa Rica, who are forcing their governments to reckon with climate change—not in 10 years, not in 40 years. Right now. And you’ll hear from the President about that later tonight.
Of course, changing systems can have consequences.
One of your peers, Edward Leung, helped inspire thousands to fight for an independent Hong Kong. But tonight, he’s in prison, serving time for his protests.
And Bobi Wine, an upstart presidential candidate in Uganda, has been jailed, tortured and threatened. His crime? Running on a platform of hope and change against an opponent who has held power for three decades.
Yet Bobi and Edward persist in their missions—in fact, Bobi is with us here tonight. Because they know, as so many of you know, that big, sw