| December 31, 2020 | People Feature
2020 has been a lot to process. From the human impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements to the turbulence of an exceptionally divisive election year, this year has been marked by tragedies, challenges and unexpected adjustments on both macro and micro scales.
While we'd hardly blame you for seeking to swiftly turn the page on a year that appears destined to live in eternal infamy, it's also important to take a minute for reflection on the silver linings that accompanied the storms. Modern Luxury has taken a look back through this year's cover stories and compiled some of the most timely, poignant and memorable quotes pertaining to this year's unique climate. Take one last walk down memory lane, and let's all hope for a more stable and successful new year.
“I wanted to do a balloon representing America all together. It’s love; it’s the heart—the whole [country] together, and we’re not going to give up. We are going to make it happen, and we are going to fight for it. We are going to win because we have hope.” - Mr. Brainwash on The Hope Issue cover artwork he auctioned for COVID-19 relief.
“This time has also allowed me to be closer to my son than ever. At the same time, it’s a huge, huge challenge. Whether you’re a working mom or a stay-at-home mom, having to be the teacher too is a huge challenge, and wanting to make sure that I’m enriching him as best I can.” - Tyra Banks
"Obviously, life is different with shelter-in-place and horrible news every day. We feel for everyone who’s hurting and know we’re very fortunate to be able to treat this as a time to be creative. As an artist, I’ve always wanted a vacation where no one bothers me and there’s literally nothing going on. It’s usually impossible, but this bizarrely timed up with the world stopping in a lot of ways... I feel really bad for the artists who are going to miss out on their moment right now. I know how important the “Closer,” “Roses” and “Don’t Let Me Down” era was for us. I can’t imagine if “Roses” came out and we couldn’t promote and play it. Instagram was barely a thing then and now there are more tools at artists’ disposal to still have a presence, but nothing replaces getting out and playing for your fans." - The Chainsmokers
"This generation, I really feel for them. They’re experiencing real pain right now. They’ve been denied things [by the pandemic] we were given freely. But this may be one of the most substantive generations in a long time. Like my grandfather who grew up with the Great Depression and lived through World War II—those trials made him a very serious person. This generation is going to be aware of issues of race, issues of gender and the global nature of the world we live in, including healthcare and climate change. We’re going to see people who will turn that pain into a great deal of compassion.” - Ethan Hawke
"Well, actually the pandemic and everything affected me in a very good way. I was in Europe and I had to stop everything and go back to Colombia. It had been six years of being on tour every year. And to suddenly have to stop it all was a big change. I had a chance to share some time with my family. It was in Colombia that I started creating the whole concept of Papi Juancho, the whole album. I had time to think again. I thought about what I wanted to do and how I wanted my fans to see me. And that’s how I started the concept. I was doing Colombia, I went back to my roots, and I went back to the sound that I started doing 10 years ago." - Maluma
“I think we’re really in need of a new stimulus, new information that isn’t negative—that is something artful, that captures our imagination for a period of time, that is a stimulus outside of ourselves. To have the opportunity to offer something for people to do that’s kind of pure escapism has been lovely. I was truly honored to be somebody who could be involved in the thing that might have given people relief for a few hours of the day… and in that communal experience... because I miss people, and I think people miss people, and they miss being around people and just sharing. Even the locations, the fact that we shot it in seven countries is so perfect because people have been predominantly in a 5-kilometer radius for however long. That’s the beautiful thing about cinema too—sort of like being in a hotel room—it’s like there’s nothing around you to remind you of your real life. And that can be bliss when everything has been crashing down upon you for six months... I quite quickly came around to the fact that this year is about surrender, and… you can’t really control very much of anything anyway. This is exactly what it needs to be. This is how it’s supposed to be experienced—and I think, for the most part, people have felt the same, like it was a gift to go to the movies.” - Elizabeth Debicki on Tenet.
“It’s been a crash course in life. I can’t complain because my family and loved ones are OK—and that is not something that everybody or many people can say right now. It’s been the longest time for me to not have actively been on a film set,” she shares. “All the energy has to recenter itself somewhere, and for me it recenters itself on myself because I don’t have small children to look after; I don’t even live in the same country as my family.” - Elizabeth Debicki
“Mommy does embarrassing dances with the children. Nothing feels completely consistent, and it is very hard to sustain certain things. I started off so well and on a good diet and a good exercise regimen, and then you get, like, a little bit bored and you want to get the potato chips and the wine out... Sometimes you feel like you’re a supermom—baking cake, playing board games and teaching them how to use the vacuum cleaner; you’re just fully on top of it. And other times you’re like, ‘Oh God, just let me hand them the devices and let me get done what I need to do,’ you know? That’s just the reality, and you have to forgive yourself on the days that you need to take that time for yourself and create that space." - Naomi Watts
“It’s definitely been a constant ride on one nervous system. Anxiety levels are through the roof. There’s been beautiful, simple moments with the family dotted in there. And then really hard times with the kids not quite understanding. You know, my kids are at the age where you don’t want them to be sitting in front of the news and absorbing all the dark, ugly facts of everything, but they’re too old to hide everything. But they get frustrated. So it’s a tough thing for everyone to navigate. But you just find your way along. And there are good days and bad days." - Naomi Watts
"Drawing is a way of life; it’s a kind of private activity that you basically do when nobody’s watching, but here we are, in a situation where nobody could possibly be watching because we’re all quarantined. We’re all sitting around at home trying to find our way into some sort of imaginary world that will make life better. I am imagining figures distanced from one another. They don’t want to be but they have to be. There are figures who are invented to resemble those who I wish I could see.” - George Condo
“I would say the largest thing is that I’ve spent a lot of time going back to the early techniques in my practice, which were largely in drawing and painting. It’s been interesting, allowing some refocusing of priorities in the studio as well.” - Daniel Arsham
“It was important to produce this virtually because this moment needed to see this work. This format allows it to be shared with new audiences that wouldn’t get to see it in a gallery setting. I am making use of all the means we have. There is real power in real-life experiences, but there is real reach digitally.” - Nick Cave on his virtual exhibit, As It Was and Still Is.
“I knew I needed to do what COVID forced me to do—which I think forced everyone to do—which was look at what you’re doing. Stop. Pause. You dissect what you were doing and ask: Maybe there’s a better way to do it? I started working a lot differently when COVID started. In times of crisis, that’s when true, true creativity is born." - Mister E
“The #MeToo movement—I didn’t change anything. Somehow, what I was already doing fell under this umbrella. When you go back 25 years ago, I have really seen the progression. It’s beautiful to feel the power of all the girls coming aboard. I feel I am really lucky to be of a generation that got to live through a huge transformation. I understand where we’re coming from, and I fought for it. It was hard. It was heartbreaking. It was devastating. A lot of the time, you felt completely helpless and hopeless, and, now, to be able to see this change… it’s been a fantastic privilege.” - Salma Hayek
“It took me too long to process my trauma and come forward. I am still scared. It changed for me when I realized there were other victims of the same person. This was on the heels of Cosby and Weinstein and all these women coming forward, but nothing could be done. I decided something had to be done. We never gave up even when it wasn’t looking good. I am so proud of everything we did." - Evan Rachel Wood
“It comes in waves. It has certainly been a release. It is something that is hard to be alone in, so by telling my story, I felt like I wasn’t alone anymore. I felt like I made other people not feel alone anymore either. I also wanted to show people that it can literally happen to anyone. That’s the thing about domestic violence. Domestic violence isn’t just a women’s issue. It’s an epidemic for women, but it happens to men, children, the elderly and handicapped—it happens across the board. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor or what community you come from. I think it is one of the worst problems we are not really talking about because it is so normalized.” - Evan Rachel Wood on her healting process.
“We have a lot of misconceptions about domestic violence and what it looks like. I don’t think we are talking enough about the intricacies and how complicated it can be. At this moment when #MeToo is such a topic of conversation, I am hoping to move the needle in the conversation about violence as well. We plan on taking [the bill] to as many states as we can and to continue to have the conversation. This isn’t something I chose, it chose me. Phoenix seemed like an obvious choice in that we want to allow them the time to be able to rise from the ashes and come back even stronger—and to be able to pursue justice. It seemed so unfair that someone would be so hurt that they were unable to get up. We want that fiery phoenix rising.” - Evan Rachel Wood on the Phoenix Act.
“I hope to teach my own son that sometimes we have to work a little bit harder just to get a sliver of what other people have, as people of color,” she says. “He’s going to be living in a totally different day, so I think it’s going to be a lot better for him. There will be a lot more open doors for him. But one thing that I didn’t really focus on that much was personal time and the prices of work, work, work. I want to show him that the balance is important.” - Tyra Banks
"Being off the road and holed up in the studio watching what happened to George Floyd and others like him and what is going on in the world has amplified how disgusting systemic racism is in this country. We must do everything we can to encourage people to vote and make a change. Donating money is the least we can do. We must act." - The Chainsmokers
"During the weeks after George Floyd was killed, I saw so many stories from people who have experienced racism, and it’s opened my eyes to how big of a problem it is. I’m from Norway, and I’ve never experienced it before, so it was hard for me to realize. It goes back so many years in the U.S., and the whole system just needs to be rebuilt almost because the problem lies so deep." - Kygo
“Many don’t know what people mean when they talk about systemic racism. If you want to understand it, you have to understand the history of this country and how it’s been built, how it’s been arranged and how it’s made our minds work. John Brown was really on a mission to wake up white America. He saw everything in the light of the unwavering equality of mankind. And if you weren’t doing something to help change the tide of equality, then you were part of the problem.” - Ethan Hawke on The Good Lord Bird limited series.
“I’m not American, so being here through this year has been very eye-opening. I think what we’ve seen come to the surface are things that have obviously been systemically an issue for a long time.” - Elizabeth Debicki
Photography by: Photo by Nick Hanoatubun/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images