PEOPLE Magazine People of the Year 2022

The boldest thing we can do? Help out.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what inspires someone to take action, to donate their time, money and passion to charity, to do something other than fire off a tweet or Instagram post. It’s been on my mind because the world seems to need our help more than ever and also because the people we celebrate in this issue didn’t hesitate to meet the moment. They didn’t ask why me, wait for permission, or get caught up in self-doubt. She just moved.

When Matthew McConaughey’s hometown was devastated by a mass shooting last May, he and his wife, Camila, quickly returned to Uvalde. They had no plan; they just started talking to the victims’ families and immediately saw how much the parents wanted their children’s lives to matter. In Washington, D.C., to push for gun reform, the couple carried with them “frontline stories from the families,” the Oscar winner says. A month later, Congress passed historic federal gun legislation.

Emmy winner Quinta Brunson made Abbot Elementary School because she wanted a show that would bridge generation gaps, that would make her and her parents and grandparents laugh at the same jokes. “It’s very important to have the same smile. I think it’s spiritual, I think it’s healing,” she said. To bring people together for a moment of joy? What a gift.

With her new talk show, Jennifer Hudson has made it her mission “to create a platform for everyone so we all have a place to feel included,” she says. It’s so simple yet important — and the show’s launch comes on the heels of her incredible year in which, at age 41, she became the youngest woman ever to earn EGOT status (that’s an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony).

When Mila Kunis saw Russia invade Ukraine, she did not expect to provide aid to the Ukrainian people. But when friends reached out, assuming Mila could tell them where to give because she was born in Ukraine, “I knew I had to help,” she says. Not knowing where to start didn’t stop her: “We didn’t have a solution, so we made one.” To date, she has raised $37 million for refugees in need.

Taking action can sound so grand, so monumental. But often it’s just taking one step and then the next. As Mila put it, “Helping – don’t even ask, just do it – should be our standard norm.”

I hope this song inspires you to make a difference in your corner of the world.

Matthew McConaughey, Quinta Brunson, Mila Kunis and Jennifer Hudson are PEOPLE’s 2022 People of the Year! Look for all four covers on newsstands this week and read more of their revealing interviews in the new issue.

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