The cover story: TIME's Next Generation Leaders

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The Cover Story
TIME's Next Generation Leaders
By Eliza Berman
Senior Editor, TIME

Timothée Chalamet is not a movie star in the old-school mold. It's nearly impossible to be in 2021, when the public has come to expect more of our celebrities: more activism, less self-absorption. More vulnerability, less cold remove. When the Oscar-nominated star of Call Me By Your Name and Lady Bird thinks about how he wants to use his platform—which is about to grow even bigger with the simultaneous release of the sci-fi epic Dune and Wes Anderson's ensemble dramedy The French Dispatch  on Oct. 22—he thinks about the messages he wishes to send about protecting our planet and raising awareness about the importance of mental health. But he also thinks about something a little less tangible: "I feel like I'm here to show that to wear your heart on your sleeve is O.K.," he tells TIME.

Sensitivity and vulnerability are two facets of leadership which tend to get short shrift next to qualities like confidence and decisiveness. But Chalamet's approach to leadership is emblematic of the diverse array of pioneers and trailblazers featured in this issue's class of Next Generation Leaders. Some of them are responding to real-world problems with innovative technological solutions or advocacy; others are following the sources of their inspiration—in the natural world, their family history or their communities—and wielding a paintbrush or a microphone to inspire change. But all of them offer hope at a time when it can feel like a dwindling resource.

Some of their stories are rooted in a formative event: Erika Hilton's activism for trans rights in Brazil began in earnest in 2015, when a bus company would not allow her to use her chosen name on a ticket. Five years later, last November, she became the first trans woman elected to the city council in São Paulo. Sara Wahedi lived through the trauma of a nearby suicide bombing in her native Afghanistan several years ago, without any information about what was unfolding around her; the experience was part of what inspired her to develop an app that gives Kabul residents real-time data about security threats and other municipal issues.

Others are leading by example, showing what is possible by virtue of their very presence in spaces from which people like them have traditionally been absent: Chika Stacy Oriuwa was the only Black graduate in her class at the University of Toronto's medical school, and the only Black psychiatry resident there following her graduation. For years now, she has dedicated herself to opening the door for more Black students to pursue careers in Canadian healthcare, with the goal of helping to remedy differential treatment of Black patients in the country. Halfway around the world in Japan, Kodo Nishimura has pursued a life as a Buddhist monk, makeup artist and advocate for LGBTQ rights. "I can be a monk wearing heels, so you can be who you are," he tells TIME.

Taken together, the 10 young leaders in this package remind us that we each can leave our marks in our own way—quietly or with a booming voice, buttoned up or in glitter and heels, guarded or vulnerable.

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