The TIME 100 issue represents our choices for the 100 most influential people in the world. It’s our 10th year doing it, and the cover always presents a special challenge. In some years we put all 100 of them on the cover, with a postage-stamp-size picture of each. This year we are trying something new: seven cover portraits of TIME 100 honorees who reflect the breadth and depth of our list, each one profiled inside—as is our tradition—by an equally luminary voice. They are Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl whose advocacy for girls’ rights, writes Chelsea Clinton, is just beginning; Jay Z, whose journey from hip-hop artist to powerful entrepreneur symbolizes, according to Michael Bloomberg, the American Dream narrative; actress Jennifer Lawrence, who charmed the world when she won her first Oscar but, writes Jodie Foster, impressed everyone in the movie industry long ago with her raw talent; Rand Paul, the first-term Kentucky Senator whom Sarah Palin describes as the GOP’s ascendant voice of reason; the inventor and entrepreneur Elon Musk, who, Richard Branson argues, is a global visionary for a cleaner, greener future; Li Na, the Chinese tennis phenomenon, whom Chris Evert credits with revolutionizing the sport in her homeland; and Aamir Khan, the Bollywood star who wins praise from composer A.R. Rahman for using his influence to raise social awareness in India. The covers vary internationally, but in the U.S. you’ll find four different versions on newsstands, and each issue has all the portraits inside.
We commissioned the renowned photographer Mark Seliger to create the covers. The shoots took him and his crew to Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Washington and Birmingham, England, where he took the first formal portrait of Malala since she survived a vicious attack by the Taliban last October. Malala is still so young and small that when Mark sat her on a stool during the shoot, his assistants had to give her a plastic crate and two pieces of wood so she could rest her feet comfortably. The issue was beautifully designed by assistant art director Allison Duda, with stunning photography coordinated by contributing photo editor Bridget Harris, and executive editor Radhika Jones oversaw the project.