The New Role Models 2018
Here they are: the people who are showing us how to be better men in 2018. Throw your suit on the fire, down a vegan smoothie, have a little cry, and settle in for The Book of Man's New Role Model list.
To find out the street criteria for our choices read how we chose our role models.
But if you can’t be bothered, we’ll paraphrase: these are people (not all men), who are pointing the way to a better life for men today. They are successful in their own careers but work as activists and campaigners too. They are engaged with the world, responsible and relatable. They are not a bunch of flawless dudes in suits with no sense of humour.
So here we go, in no particular order:
1. Professor Green
Musician, patron of CALM, speaker, and documentary maker highlighting issues such as male suicide, working-class struggles and homelessness. The Book of Man’s columnist is a smart, fearless, emotional and thoroughly admirable.
3. Will Poulter
Brilliant actor from The Revenant and Detroit, and also a powerful voice on Twitter, who puts his weight behind social, mental health and political issues – most recently fronting May Measurement Month, highlighting the dangers of high blood pressure.
5. Prince William & Prince Harry
Royals fronting important campaigns for organisations such as mental health campaign Heads Together, suicide awareness charity CALM, and Forces veterans support charity Walking with the Wounded. With their human, flawed, but honest attempt to do some good, the pair of them have finally given the Royal Family a good name.
7. Tom Daley
Olympic athlete, self-help guru, and LGBT+ campaigner. Recently called on all commonwealth nations to decriminalise homosexuality. Fronts the BBC Lifeline Brain Tumour Charity. A damn good guy in every respect.
8. Jamal Edwards MBE
The young businessman and film-maker behind media broadcasting company SB.TV, is also a mental health documentary maker and motivator for aspiring entrepreneurs. A true example of where dedication, graft and a good heart can take you.
9. Patsy McKie
An unsung hero doing vital work in Manchester as the founding member of the Mothers Against Violence group, which aims to tackle violent crime amongst young people in the region and fulfil their potential.
11. Simon Gunning
Inspirational CEO of the charity CALM, which aims to raise awareness of suicide being the number one killer of men under 45 in the UK. Recently made one of the most memorable charity campaigns of our time with Project 84 and the statues on top of ITV tower.
12. Jay Shetty
Former monk turned motivational speaker and king of social media wisdom – promotes a service-led, helpful existence rather than a money-oriented one, which is as radical as it is shareable.
13. Alex Holmes
The man behind the Anti-Bullying Campaign and Deputy CEO of The Diana Award, he has revolutionised the approach to the issue in schools with his Anti-Bullying Ambassadors. A former victim of bullying himself, Alex is doing important work in supporting children to speak out and support each other.
Read our interview with Alex .
18. Orla Doherty
Environmentalist and producer behind Blue Planet II which hit the nation over the head with it’s exposure of the scandalous plastic problem in the oceans. The unsung hero behind Sir David Attenborough.
20. Noel Clarke
Actor, producer, director, dad, community supporter – recently set up Unstoppable Film & TV to produce British-made productions. Noel is somehow both an iconoclast and a national treasure.
21. Alex and JP Petrides
Allplants duo who deliver vegan food across the UK and aim to inspire more plant-based living. Veganism is very much here to stay and these brothers are passionate advocates.
“Taking on a plant-rich diet is like driving a Tesla. It’s better for the planet, full of unexpected experiences and makes you one of the good guys.” Read our interview with Alex & JP.
22. Will Adoasi
The brains behind Vitae London, a watch brand that provides school uniforms and equipment to children in Africa. Will shows a new approach to entrepreneurship where it’s not all about making squlillions for your own pocket.
23. Sephton Henry
A former gang member in London but now leading consultant for Gangsline, a non-profit group supporting young people and communities in tackling gang culture. An important voice in the battle to save more young lives in the capital.
24. Adwoa Aboah & Holly Gore
Founders of Gurls Talk, an online community for young women to discuss issues like mental health, sex and the effects of social media. Inspirational for men as well as women in their open and honest discussion of often taboo areas.
25. Jake Graf
Writer, filmmaker and patron of Mermaids, which offers support for gender diverse children and their families. Jake is transgender and makes short films to bring trans experiences to wider audiences.
26. Loyle Carner
Rapper raising awareness about dyslexia and ADHD and their effects on young people’s lives. His confessional story-telling in his songs also puts forward a more sensitive vision of being a man.
27. Fatima Zaman
Witnessed the 7/7 bombings in London and became a counter extremist running campaigns with Kofi Annan to prevent young people joining extremist groups. A fearless kind of inspiration.
28. Rio Ferdinand
Former footballer, and mental health advocate who became a Bafta-winning documentary maker of ‘Being Mum and Dad’, about life after the death of his wife. An important and highly visible example of men opening up.
33. Zoe Ball
Presenter and campaigner on the issue of male suicide, through the documentary ‘Life After Suicide’ and the ‘Hardest Ride Home’ challenge for Sports Relief. Now an important figure in raising awareness of a national scandal.
34. David Lammy
MP for Tottenham and active fighter of scandals including Windrush, Grenfall, and knife crime in the capital. Fast becoming one of the most important, and certainly most loved, politicians in the country.
36. Amrou Al-Kadhi
Writer, performer, film-maker, writer and activist who’s forthcoming book, Unicorn, is a memoir about intersectionality. The sheer workrate of Amrou is outstanding – an exciting talent.
37. Grayson Perry
Ground-breaking artist and author of The Descent of Man, which has become a bible for progressive men everywhere. Grayson’s documentaries on class and masculinity have shown him to be one of the most important thinkers, as well as artists, of today.
38. Robert Webb
Comedian, and writer of ‘How Not To Be A Boy’, an important book on the thoughtless and often dangerous gender conditioning boys go through. The Peep Show star is a crucial figure in the questioning of old school masculinity.
39. Dane Baptiste
Comedian and writer, who attacks racial issues head-on, and became the first black nominee for the Edinburgh Comedy awards. A fast rising figurehead for questioning cultural norms – is also very, very funny.
40. Max Tobias
Co-founder with his childhood friend Rebeccas, of the Dusty Knuckle bakery, which helps troubled youngsters through offering work inside their Hackney bakery. Where cool, community and crust all come together perfectly.
43. Lee Richardson
Former footballer behind ‘Safety Net’, an online platform backed by the PFA aiming to help young footballers and 9 to 16 years olds with mental health and wellbeing issues. A grassroots hero.
45. Simon Thomas
Sky Sports presenter who left his job after the death of his wife from blood cancer to become a full-time dad to his son. Fast becoming a leading light in talking about the emotional lives of men.
47. Rob and Paul Forkan
After the loss of their parents in the 2004 tsunami, the brothers founded fashion brand Gandys to fund their charitable foundation ‘Orphans for Orphans’. The decadence of high fashion has never seemed so absurd.
48. Keith Weed
Responsible for the Marketing, Communications and Sustainable Business functions of Unilever, with a remit to grow the business while reducing its environmental footprint and increasing positive social impact.
Yeah, you. It is up to you to set an example for a new generation. You. Us. Together.
We’re all fuck-ups right? Men usually are, in some way. You go through life, take some risks, but steer a course through life as best you can, and do many things you can be proud of. Inevitably you also mess-up. You make mistakes, do horrible shit, be a drunken mess, a bad partner…sometimes you just get it wrong. And this can be hard to cope with – regret and shame can lead you to a dark place, and anxiety and depression can keep you there. You can end up feeling shit about yourselves, unable to catch your own eye in the mirror.
Not even the role models on this list. They all carry mistakes, and will continue making them. Yet that won’t stop them being people who others can look to, and it won’t stop you either.
Now is a good time for all men to think of themselves as role models and live as such. If you have a past, draw a line under it, and refresh yourself. Take a step back and think about what kind of man you want to be. Is it someone who takes responsibility for their own life, questions the world around them, and wants to be an active inspiration to others? Course it is. You’ve done all the messy young lad nonsense you to. Time to crack on.
You are a role model. We all are.
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