From Allison Janney to Octavia Spencer, these celebrities share how one small act can have a huge impact

By Ale Russian
March 19, 2018 01:16 PM

Sometimes it’s the little things that can make the most lasting impression on somebody’s life.

So who do some of the biggest names in entertainment have to thank for influencing their journey?

“The person that comes to mind is my mom, of course,” Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy tells PEOPLE. “She’s changed my life in so many ways, but she’s just the single most generous, sweet and kind-hearted person I’ve ever met. I think for sure she’s shown me more kindness and generosity than I could ever begin to pay back.”

Fellow Olympian Adam Rippon cites his figure skating coach as his major inspiration. “He really went out on a limb for me in so many ways,” says Rippon. “He really took me under his wing when I didn’t really believe in myself. More than being a coach, he was really like a father.”

Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy
| Credit: Gus Kentworthy/Twitter

Newly-minted Oscar winner Allison Janney says she has her friends to thank for getting her more involved in important causes.

“I have lots of friends who are civic minded and active in their communities, who inspire me to do things,” the I, Tonya actress says. “My friend Melissa Fitzgerald, who works with Justice for Vets in Washington, and my friend Mary McCormack, who does a lot of work and got me to go campaign for Hilary [Clinton].”

As for Black Panther breakout star Winston Duke, his sister is all he needed as an example in life. “She taught me how to be a strong man through her own examples of what it means to be a strong woman,” he says.