Every year, we identify the extraordinary people who moved us over the past 365 days and will continue to inspire us for the next 365. As we say goodbye to 2020 and hello to 2021, we recognize Authentic People of 2020 who demonstrate courage, heart, vulnerability and the kind of character the world could use more of.
Working From (Home) 9 to 5
“I look totally artificial, but I am totally real, as a writer, as a professional, as a human being,” Dolly Parton said in 2019 to Elle Magazine. Truer words were never spoken. The 76-year-old, singer, songwriter, author, actress, philanthropist is one of our authentic people of 2020.
Dolly had a big year this year. A Netflix special, Christmas album and TV show. Good stuff.
She helped save lives. Literally. She pulled her 9-year-old Netflix special co-star from an oncoming car, and she invested a million dollars in what became the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
About that investment, she said, “I’m a very proud girl today to know I had anything at all to do with something that’s going to help us through this crazy pandemic.”
The COVID-19 vaccine investment was just another philanthropic endeavor gone right. Parton founded the Imagination Library in 1995 partially because her father had not been able to read or write. Since then, they have given 150 million books to children under five to promote reading.
Would You Speak Up? We know Dollywood.
This year, Dolly Parton was a plain-spoken advocate for social justice saying about reimagining one of her businesses that had accepted antebellum ideas about the South, “As soon as you realize a problem, you should fix it. Don’t be a dumbass. That’s where my heart is. I would never dream of hurting somebody on purpose.”
And on the Black Lives Matter movement, “Of course Black lives matter. Do we think that our little White asses are the only ones that matter? NO!”
She’s equally outspoken on other social issues:
- LGBTQIA rights — “I think everybody should be allowed to be who they are, and to love who they love.”
- Equal pay — “I still believe that women should get paid equal and should be treated with respect. I’m all about that. I don’t get out and have to preach it or march in the streets, I write about it.”
A Saying for Everything
And if you need an affirmation, the star who said, “You’d be surprised how much it costs to look this cheap!” has one:
- “The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”
- “Find out who you are and do it on purpose.”
- “Storms make trees take deeper roots.”
- “If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one.”
- “We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.”
- “You’ll never do a whole lot unless you’re brave enough to try.”
Look out Brene Brown, Dolly is coming for you! As Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg said on Twitter, “There’s an idea in Judaism that there are 36 special people in the world at all times who secretly maintain the world. I have begun to suspect that Dolly Parton is one of them.”
Dolly Parton concludes our list of Authentic People of 2020, a list that she could be on every year for her unwavering authenticity. She’s true to herself and we love her for it. If you want to tap into your authentic voice and unleash your inner self for every audience to see, we can help. Learn more about our various programs here.
Some Closing Thoughts
Dolly Parton deserves a Lifetime Authentic Person award for everything she has done over the years, but this past year was a special one. In 2020, Dolly invested in the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, spoke up for social justice, and offered inspiring words in a way only she could.