18 People We Couldn't Stop Talking About in 2020

In a difficult time these leaders made a difference — providing hope, inspiration and fun

01 of 15

Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris
Kamala Harris. Win McNamee/Getty

The Vice-President-elect will make history as the first woman — and the first Black person and person of Asian descent — to hold the office. In tribute to her late mother, Harris said, "She believed so deeply in an America where a moment like this is possible."

02 of 15

Dwayne Johnson

dwayne-johnson
Dwayne Johnson. Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The most-followed American man on Instagram used his platform to inspire others. He paid tribute to his late father, Rocky, a wrestler who "broke color barriers" and "became a ring legend"; shared his family's COVID journey; and celebrated a happy end to the year with a quadruple-platinum song, "You're Welcome," and a new NBC sitcom, Young Rock, that tells his origin story. The "people's eyebrow" evidently began at age 13.

03 of 15

Meghan Markle

Meghan Duchess of Sussex
Meghan Markle. Shutterstock

The Duchess of Sussex broke barriers with her Nov. 25 essay in The New York Times that detailed a miscarriage she suffered earlier in the year. The confessional op-ed was a departure from royal norms — much like her move with Prince Harry and their young son Archie to California earlier this year. In her piece, Meghan also touched on larger themes, including the Black Lives Matter movement and rising political division, and referenced her own 2019 interview in which she admitted she was "not okay." "Let us commit to asking others, 'Are you okay?' " she wrote.

04 of 15

Catherine & India Oxenberg

Catherine Oxenberg and daughter India Oxenberg
India Oxenberg and her mother, Catherine Oxenberg. Phylicia J. L. Munn

The Dynasty star's hard-won struggle to free her daughter from the NXIVM sex cult was chronicled in two documentary series. In October Keith Raniere, NXIVM's twisted founder, was sentenced to 120 years in prison.

05 of 15

Naomi Osaka

naomi-osaka
Recep Sakar/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The 23-year-old daughter of a Japanese mother and Haitian father won her second U.S. Open in September — and drew attention to racial injustice by wearing seven different face masks emblazoned with the name of a Black person who was unjustly killed.

06 of 15

LeBron James

Lebron James
LeBron James. Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The 6'9" All-Star led the L.A. Lakers to an NBA championship, possibly earning the title of the greatest player of all time. (Go ahead, debate.) He touched more than the sports world, using his fame to encourage voting and his wealth to do good in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.

07 of 15

Zendaya

zendaya emmys 2020
Zendaya. ABC

At 24, the Euphoria star became the youngest Emmy winner for Lead Actress in a Drama. "I experience moments of joy when I'm able to create art and be involved in projects that I connect to deeply," she told elle.com.

08 of 15

Anya Taylor-Joy

The Queen's Gambit
Anya Taylor-Joy in The Queen's Gambit. PHIL BRAY/NETFLIX

Hollywood's fastest rising star had never played chess prior to being cast in the Netflix smash hit The Queen's Gambit, but it didn't show. Variety called the English-Argentinian actress "so magnetic that when she stares down the camera lens, her flinty glare threatens to cut right through it."

09 of 15

Kelly Ripa & Ryan Seacrest

Kelly and Ryan
LIVE with Kelly and Ryan.

The duo's chemistry has propelled their talk show to No. 1. "It's not just a television show," Seacrest recently told Entertainment Tonight. "We come in, and we literally have our first cup of coffee together and catch up with each other as friends do."

10 of 15

Savannah Guthrie

Savannah Guthrie
Savannah Guthrie. Evan Vucci/AP/Shutterstock

She can wear her dress backward on the Today show and disarm the President of the United States in a town hall interview with equal charm. The nation took notice. "She's front and center, critical to everything NBC News will be doing," Noah Oppenheim, president of the division, raved to The New York Times.

11 of 15

Dan Levy

SMA POLL; Sexiest Import
Getty

The Schitt's Creek co-creator and star tapped into viewers' hunger for humanity — and swept this year's Emmy Awards. "I hope that [the show] offers a kind of warmth and comfort for people in really uncertain times," he told the Toronto Sun.

12 of 15

Megan Thee Stallion

Megan Thee Stallion performs onstage for the 2020 American Music Awards
Megan Thee Stallion. Kevin Winter/Getty Images for dcp

The sex-positive, body-positive hip-hop star, whose summer anthem "WAP," with Cardi B, debuted at No. 1, is seriously socially conscious. Her mission is to protect Black women, who are "still constantly disrespected and disregarded in so many areas of life," she wrote in The New York Times.

13 of 15

The Home Edit's Joanna Teplin & Clea Shearer

the home edit
John Shearer

These organization mavens helped bring order to a pandemic with a bestselling book and a Netflix series. Their method: Think like a stylist, and arrange books by colors of the rainbow.

14 of 15

Tyler Perry

star tracks 11/16/2020 - tyler perry
Christopher Polk/Getty

Vowing to stay positive during the pandemic, Perry worked hard to mobilize others. Notably, at Tyler Perry Studios, he created Camp Quarantine, a COVID-free bubble where a team of 360 people safely produced four projects.

15 of 15

Chris Evans

chris-evans
Steve Granitz/WireImage

Captain America may have figured out how to take the sting out of politics. Evan's new website, A Starting Point, encourages civic engagement with leaders from both sides. "You have to use your platform to do more than just retweet things," he told PEOPLE.

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