Like many of us, People magazine's Editor-in-Chief Dan Wakeford has been working remotely — and that means putting together the magazine's Sexiest Man Alive issue with his team virtually, while a politically divided nation battles the coronavirus pandemic. All of which Wakeford factored in when choosing this year's cover star, Michael B. Jordan.
"He's a man for the ages, right?" Wakeford told CNN. "Every year we look at what is the spirit of the year? What does the zeitgeist want at the moment? After a difficult year, we wanted to find somebody who provides that balance of escapism and comfort and inspiration. And we really felt that Mike did that. It doesn't hurt that he's extremely hot as well."
Besides his good looks, Wakeford said it was Jordan's activism behind the Black Lives Matter movement and his production company's effort to make Hollywood more reflective of our world that helped cement him as Sexiest Man Alive.
"It was a universal choice. We were talking about what the world wants right now and what the world needs right now," Wakeford said. "I think people are leaning into a kindness after having a difficult year and looking at somebody who is a force for good. And I think Mike is that. He's done lots of good things. He's put his money where his mouth is related to Black Lives Matter. His production company has led the charge to provide more career opportunities for people in color in Hollywood. He also believes in strong women and empowering women, which is fantastic. And so he does a lot of good."
Wakeford adds that selecting who gets the cover is a "very conscious thing," adding that they try to consider what's going on in the world and how readers might be feeling. "And then I think about Hollywood and the world around us through that filter," he said.
As for the iconic "Sexiest" issue, the magazine's staff held a photo shoot (with proper Covid-19 protocols) outside Jordan's home in Los Angeles, finding creative ways to photograph the other men who also made the list.
"By now we've, we've put together 40 plus issues from home, but we've been doing this from week one of quarantine," Wakeford said. "So, there's not a challenge to putting out a magazine remotely anymore. It's what we do. What you find is challenging with Hollywood at the moment is making sure that celebrities are available to be photographed because many are in locked down productions... they're not allowed to come out of their production, bubbles and so forth to shoot them. "
Also included in this issue are Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dwayne Johnson, Paul Mescal, Maluma, Chris Rock, Paul Rudd, Dan Levy and more.
Wakeford is proud of the issue, now available on stands and online, and said he's "already thinking" about who could be in the running for next year.
This is every 'Sexiest Man Alive' winner since 1985