When Jared Leto won an Academy Award earlier this year, I felt proud. Not that I had anything to do with his captivating portrayal of Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club. Far from it. But Leto was featured in our Most Creative People issue in 2012 and has participated in multiple Fast Company events. We've written about his entrepreneurial efforts, as well as his acting and singing. As he told a Fast Company audience at South by Southwest last year, "I'd rather have 10 followers that actually give a shit than a million who don't."
The word creativity is thrown around a lot, but having creative impact is more rare. In January, we launched an ongoing digital resource called the Most Creative People 1000, which highlights an exclusive group of influential leaders from technology, design, entertainment, health care, and more. Leto is part of the MCP 1000, as are other well-known names like Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, and Diane von Furstenberg.
With this issue, we add 100 all-new honorees to that community. None of them have been profiled in our print magazine previously. Some may be familiar to you—actress Anna Kendrick, say, who is on our cover. But most are relative unknowns. They won't stay that way for long.
Ranked No. 1 on this year's list is a woman who won't even let her face be photographed, for reasons of security. Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al-Saud is a part of the Saudi royal family. She was educated in the United States, and returned home to a country where opportunities for women are highly restricted. All she's done is take over a struggling piece of the family business and get it back on track—and now she's aggressively creating work opportunities for women in her country, ruffling feathers and opening doors in equal measure.
The class of 2014 also includes the founders of Tinder, Whisper, and Oculus VR. It includes a university professor who is challenging our assumptions about addiction, and an activist who has rallied millions to the cause of global poverty. There are marketers who have sparked new discussions about diversity and climate change, and data scientists who are unlocking health care solutions. There's even an Obama administration cabinet secretary who is delivering unexpected progressive change.
Jared Leto wasn't exactly a nobody when Fast Company first had him come speak at an event: He'd been on TV and in movies, and fans of his band, 30 Seconds to Mars, crashed our conference to swoon loudly when he took the stage. (He wasn't there to sing; his "performance" was a cogent takedown of archaic practices in the music business and an explanation of his renegade efforts to find a new model.) But that doesn't mean we couldn't cheer a little louder for the wider recognition he's now receiving. It's how we felt when Andrew Wilson, an MCP honoree from 2012, was named CEO of Electronic Arts; or when Pharrell Williams, who appeared on our 2009 MCP list, won four Grammys in January. This year's class will no doubt have breakout stars as well. We can't wait to see who they'll be.
A version of this article appeared in the June 2014 issue of Fast Company magazine.