Women's History Month

The Person of the Year Is...

TFK readers name the top newsmaker of 2016

January 03, 2017

Actress and singer Zendaya attends a fashion event in New York City on November 7, 2016.

In December, we asked you to choose the most important newsmaker of 2016. More than 4,500 votes were cast in our online poll, and the results are in! Who is TFK’s Person of the Year? Readers chose actress and singer Zendaya.

This is the first time that Zendaya was nominated for TFK’s Person of the Year. With millions of followers on Instagram and Twitter, she uses social media as a platform for combating bullying, promoting a positive body image, and highlighting other important issues. This year, Zendaya emerged as an important voice in a generation that’s pushing for change.

Spreading Positivity

Born in Oakland, California, on September 1, 1996, Zendaya Coleman began her acting career on the stage. She first came into the national spotlight at age 14. She starred as Rocky Blue alongside actress Bella Thorne on the popular Disney Channel TV series Shake It Up. In 2013, Zendaya appeared in the 16th season of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. Currently, she is starring in the Disney Channel original series K.C. Undercover.

Zendaya is also a successful singer and entrepreneur. Her self-titled first album was released in 2013 and debuted at Number 51 on the Billboard 200. Her single releases have charted on the Billboard Hot 100, with the song “Replay” breaking the Top 40. She has a clothing line, Daya by Zendaya, more movies in the works, and she just launched an app.

Zendaya is one of the most popular young stars on social media. She has more than 36 million followers on Instagram and over 7 million on Twitter. She uses her platform to champion a positive message. She especially focuses on issues relating to body image and unfair beauty standards for women. Zendaya made headlines in 2015 when she called out Modeliste magazine for publishing a visibly retouched photo of her. After Fashion Police’s Giuliana Rancic criticized Zendaya’s hair during the 2015 Oscars, the star posted that she had chosen the look “to remind people of color that our hair is good enough.”

“I am really proud of the fact that I’m able to use people knowing my name and knowing who I am for good things, whether it’s a simple tweet or a paragraph about how something made me feel,” Zendaya told TIME. She was named one of TIME’s most influential teens in 2015 and 2016 and one of Glamour’s 2016 Women of the Year.

Other Notable Nominees

After winning the presidency in November, Donald Trump went on a USA Thank You Tour to thank the states that voted for him. Here he arrives in Hershey, Pennsylvania, on December 15, 2016.

After winning the presidency in November, Donald Trump went on a USA Thank You Tour to thank the states that voted for him. Here he arrives in Hershey, Pennsylvania, on December 15, 2016.

President-elect Donald Trump received the second-highest number of votes for TFK’s Person of the Year. In 2016, Trump ran one of the most effective and unusual political campaigns in U.S. history. Most polls predicted he would lose, and several leaders in his own Republican Party did not support him. But in the end, Trump beat the odds. On January 20, 2017, he will take the oath of office to become the 45th President of the United States.

Throughout his campaign, Trump promised to be different from other politicians. His message, “Make America great again,” appealed to voters who believe the government has not paid attention to the issues they care about, especially jobs and the economy. Author J.K. Rowling received the third-highest number of votes. Rowling is the best-selling author of the Harry Potter series. Since the release of the first Potter adventure, in 1997, Rowling’s books have sold more than 400 million copies in more than 200 countries.

In June 2016, she brought Harry’s adventures to the stage. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a two-part play, premiered in London’s West End. In November, Rowling made her screenwriting debut with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. On its first day, the film earned $75 million, making it one of the top-earning movies of the year. Rowling recently announced that there will be four more films in the Fantastic Beasts series.

A TIME-Honored Tradition”

TFK’s Person of the Year announcement follows a tradition started by TIME magazine in 1927. At the end of each year, TIME editors recognize the person, group, or idea that has influenced events and had the greatest impact on the world in the preceding 12 months.

This year, TIME chose Donald Trump as its Person of the Year, calling him the “president of the divided states of America.” Editor Nancy Gibbs reminded readers that the TIME Person of the Year is the person who had the greatest influence, for better or worse, on the events of the year. “So which is it this year: Better or worse?” she wrote in her editor’s note. “The challenge for Donald Trump is how profoundly the country disagrees about the answer.”

Who will become TFK’s Person of the Year in 2017? Informing kids about the people who are changing our world is something TFK aims to do every week. Together, we will watch world events unfold during the year ahead.

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