On Tuesday night in New York City, some of the most influential people in the world were honored at the Time 100 gala, but most of them agreed they wouldn’t have made that prestigious list without some special people in their own lives. Check out who some of the stars nominated as their greatest influences.
Viola Davis: “My mom because she taught me how to be a woman,” the actress told EW on the red carpet. “She’s the first example I had. My husband has been a big influence in my life. I didn’t think I was going to meet a nice guy. He gave me faith in love and manhood and all those good juicy things.” When asked if he ever did anything to annoy her, the How to Get Away With Murder star added: “Never! He is a perfect human being.” Her husband, actor Julius Tennon, laughed it off, trying to protest her claims.
John Legend: “My wife (Chrissy Teigen) is a huge influence and then musically Stevie Wonder is a huge influence, Marvin Gaye,” the musician told reporters. “My grandmother was a huge influence, my mother, my father — just to name a few people.”
The singer, who also performed at the event also went on to share a quote from Nina Simone that influenced his life. “You have to reflect the times,” he said. “That’s what I try to do. I quote her all the time. I quote Paul Robeson all the time who said that we’re gate keepers of truth. An artist’s job is to be a gatekeeper of truth, so that’s part of what we do. We entertain, of course, as well. We try to inspire people and we try to reflect what’s going on in the world in a way that helps bring us closer together.”
RuPaul: “My mother: Miss Ernestine Charles,” said the host of RuPaul’s Drag Race without hesitation. “She was such a rebel and she was someone who just would always look underneath the surface of what was happening. That’s who she was.”
Colson Whitehead: “My kids,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Underground Railroad told EW. “They keep me on my toes. I watch a lot of kid shows with them so I’m expanding my repertoire and revisiting the joy of discovering the world through their eyes.” As for a fellow Time 100 Most Influential People nominee he looks up to: “It’d be cool to meet Barry Jenkins,” Whitehead said of the Oscar-winning Moonlight director.
Gretchen Carlson: “It’s so difficult because I’ve had so many fantastic mentors, men and women,” the former Fox News host, whose book Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back is slated for release Sept. 26, told EW. “But I think the one constant has been my mother. It’s really crucial the message she gave to me which was I could be anything I wanted to be. Caveat: work hard. It wasn’t just going to come easy, but I think that that’s pretty much a central idea in any person who’s achieved any level of success is that they were told they can do it. Visualizing yourself achieving goals is just really important.”