Idris Elba, of salt-and-pepper beard and Thor fame, was just selected by People as the magazine’s 2018 “Sexiest Man Alive.” The British actor, who recently shut down nearly a decade of rumors that he would take the lead role in the next James Bond film, is the 33rd man to hold the prestigious title.
Elba is also only the third non-white person to land a place on the list, which has been maintained since (a pre-disgaced) Mel Gibson was selected in 1985. He joins black actor Denzel Washington (1996) and Samoan-American actor and wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (2016), in a list that is otherwise full of many white men.
In fact, finding famous and attractive non-white men has proved so trying for People that it has been forced, time and time again, to refer back to its slim repertoire of white guys. Indeed, actors Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Richard Gere, and (a pre-disgraced) Johnny Depp have been selected as the World’s Sexiest twice each. (Depp, for his part, has made vague claims of Native American ancestry, but has not publicly confirmed his racial background via DNA test.) You can see all of the winners’ covers here, and here is the full list of winners:
People is also known for its yearly special issue naming the “World’s Most Beautiful,” which includes men and women and three non-white people (Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, and Lupita Nyong’o).
Although beauty—or degree of sexiness in this case—is indeed in the eye of the beholder, it seems that People, with its 2016 selection of Johnson and now Elba, is taking a cue from the times. The world has been diverse, but many organizations and publications have only recently gotten better at recognizing that diversity. So fingers crossed we’ll see more beautiful non-white men on People’s venerated list in the future. That is if, they don’t double up on 2017 winner Blake Shelton.