It was a star-studded event at the Museum of the Future in Dubai where the inaugural Time100 Impact Awards were handed out on Monday night to Bollywood star Deepika Padukone, musician and philanthropist will.i.am, singer Ellie Goulding and beauty mogul Huda Kattan.
Dressed in a glittering Sabyasachi gold sari, with her husband Ranveer Singh (who spent his day at Expo 2020 Dubai earlier) by her side, Padukone accepted the award with humility while speaking of purpose, authenticity and mindfulness.
“I was all of 16 when I decided to switch careers from becoming a competitive badminton player to an actor. I recall sitting with my parents to convince them about my decision. But what I remember even more vividly was when I said to them, I promise I will make you proud. Little did I imagine that some 20 years hence, I would be standing here receiving a Time100 Impact Award,” Padukone told the audience upon receiving her award.
“Sasha Baron Cohen once said, ‘I think actors are really brave’ because you are largely living a life that is deeply unstable. Peaks are followed by troughs. You need luck, you need talent, you need to work your beep off,” Padukone continued, while thanking Time “for recognising me as an artist and my contribution to the field of film and entertainment. But thank you also for recognising my work in the field of mental health, a cause that is so dear to me.”
Padukone, who spoke of her battle with depression in 2016, launched her Live Love Laugh that same year to help those suffering with mental health issues.
“For all the times I felt lost, confused, disappointed, it is recognitions such as these that remind me that I am indeed on the right path. At least for the most part and validate my life that is fuelled by purpose, authenticity and mindfulness,” Padukone said during her impassioned speech in Dubai, ending her address by quoting author Joseph Campbell to follow your bliss.
The Dubai-based Kattan, who has been building her Huda Beauty empire over the last decade, was also awarded for her work by American supermodel and TV star Tyra Banks.
“It’s kind of crazy that a few years ago, maybe a decade ago, influencers weren’t really a thing. When I started out, people would ask me, so what do you do? Do you sit in your room and take photos of yourself and post them online? I was like ‘yeah’. But it really wasn’t a thing but at that time I believed that if I continued to share honest, truthful things from behind the scenes, it would build brand equity. And eventually we did and we were able to build a brand out of it,” Kattan revealed.
“To be honest, there’s still so much to do in this space. As we see the influencers landscape shift, there’s still so much to do. I think we sometimes fail to realise that how much influence we have as individuals.”
Artist will.i.am, who very recently event performed with the Black Eyed Peas at Expo 2020 Dubai, also spoke about his philanthropy work at the event.
“Thank you for this acknowledgement for the work that I do in the neighbourhood that I come from. But as I speak in this awesomely designed Museum of the Future, companies are spinning hundreds of millions of dollars to make machines smarter. And that’s awesome. There will be cars that drive themselves and cashier less checkouts … but if you are from inner-city, those are jobs that are stripped away from you.
"A lot of possibilities to take care of your family have been stripped away from you. And at the same time governments aren’t spending hundreds of millions of dollars to make inner-city kids smarter. And that juxtaposition breaks my heart. And that’s why my i.am Angel Foundation was started to mentor inner city kids to educate them to be engineers, computer scientists, data scientists,” the American singer said.
The Grammy-winner also credited his fellow band member and best friend apl.de.ap, who was seated in the audience, for inspiring his work and music. “The core of Black Eyed Peas is philanthropy. apl.de.ap, my best friend was sponsored since he was five and as we take our music around the world, we are witness to the impact it can make,” will.i.am added, saying that it through his foundation that he hopes to educate and mentor children of tomorrow.
Global pop star Ellie Goulding, best known for her hits ‘Love Me Like You Do’ and ‘Lights’, used her voice to champion the environment. A Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Environment Program since 2017, Goulding sound the alarm on the Climate Change impact. “I’m not afraid to go up and give people a hard time,” she told Time magazine. “People need to hear that they’re not doing enough, that they’re not committing, that they’re not taking enough action.”
Actor and UN Goodwill Ambassador Kat Graham; Freetown, Sierra Leone mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr; motorsports racing driver Pierre Gasly, and other leaders and influencers also attended the invite-only gala, which was part of the ongoing World Government Summit.