Here are five people who influenced the world in powerful ways in 2015.
1. The Pro Protester
“In Conversation with DeRay Mckesson.” (Rembert Browne, New York Magazine, November 2015)
Over the eight months that followed [the 50th anniversary of the march at Selma], DeRay’s fame grew in a manner unprecedented for an activist. From showing up at protests from Charleston to Baltimore to Minneapolis, to getting an audience with multiple presidential candidates, to increasingly having the ear (or eye) of those in many corners of the social-media-consuming public (from the followers to the haters to the famous), his impact in 2015 has been undeniable.
2. The Queen of the Internet
“The Toast’s Mallory Ortberg on Work, Writing, and the Cost of Creative Freedom.” (Chelsea Fagan, The Financial Diet, December 2015)
Nothing makes me laugh like Mallory Ortberg’s “Two Monks Invent Religious Iconography,” but I appreciate her candor and quick wit when she’s discussing business, too. Weeks ago, I watched her presentation about founding The Toast and cackled away in Starbucks. Now, Ortberg sits down with Chelsea Fagan, founder of The Financial Diet, and talks about the importance of transparency, her Toast-ed partnership with Nicole Cliffe, and paying writers responsibly.
3. The Art Curator
“The Lenny Interview: Kimberly Drew, aka @MuseumMammy.” (Doreen St. Félix, Lenny, November 2015)
She’s only 25, but Kimberly Drew is changing the way people experience art. Drew handles the social media accounts for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but she’s best known for spearheading the Black Contemporary Art Tumblr and curating her own Instagram account, @MuseumMammy. Online and off, Drew makes art-centric spaces more accessible for folks who might otherwise not feel welcomed.
4. The Feminist Porn Star
“How Stoya Took on James Deen and Broke the Porn Industry’s Silence.” (Melissa Gira Grant, The Guardian, December 2015)
Standing up to your rapist in public is terrifying, but that’s exactly what adult film curator, actress and writer Stoya did when she tweeted about her rape at the hands of James Deen. Thousands of people, including other folks in the porn industry, rallied around her; her bravery inspired other actresses to come forward with allegations of their own.
5. The Trans TV Collective
“48 Hours on the Most Radical Set in Hollywood.” (Diana Tourjee, BuzzFeed News, December 2015)
Transparent showrunner Jill Soloway made a point to hire trans folks for every aspect of making her show, from accountants and assistants to directors and actors. The result is “a trans separatist commune in the heart of Hollywood,” where trans experiences are not only respected but radically celebrated. It is beautiful.