TIME Magazine named U.S. President Barack Obama, Cuba’s Raúl Castro and Pope Francis, along with 97 others -- leaders, titans, icons, artists and pioneers -- in its 2015 edition of the 100 most influential people in the world.
At the event, managing editor Nancy Gibbs said there is an important distinction to be made between power and influence.
"Power’s reach is limited to those you can control. Influence’s reach is boundless when any great idea, any cause, or cure, or creation can be shared instantly and globally from the palm of your hand," Gibbs said.
While the list features world-famous faces, including rapper Kanye West, many less-recognizable influential figures took to the red carpet to advance their issues on a global platform.”
Among them, Nigerian activist Obiageli Ezekwesili, leader of the “Bring Back Our Girls” movement, who used the occasion to further her mission of finding the more than 200 school girls abducted by Boko Haram terrorists in 2014.
'Girls are not yet back'
"It certainly helps to keep the world constantly reminded that the girls are not yet back. A year ago, nearly everyone around the world knew that 219 young women had been abducted by savages," Ezekwesili said. "Suddenly, the whole world sort of moved on to other matters. With this attention on their matter, the whole world can galvanize itself again toward their rescue.”
The magazine also included Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the militant group. He was included on the list to raise awareness of the countless atrocities committed under his leadership of Boko Haram, which has recently aligned itself with the Islamic State group.
Others are fighting for social justice, including transgender equality, female empowerment and defense for the poor.
Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, has dedicated his career to fighting racial discrimination and advocating on behalf of prisoners in the United States. He said celebrities have a responsibility to shape the conversation on these issues.
"There’s no question that the history of this country has been shaped by artists and entertainers and celebrities who took a stand on important social justice issues, and I think this generation needs to do the same," Stevenson said.
The 2015 list of influential people also includes celebrities Julieanne Moore, Bradley Cooper, Emma Watson and Kim Kardashian.