Thursday, February 10, 2022

Orion Jean Named Kid of the Year 2021

TIME and Nickelodeon Reveal the Second Annual Kid of the Year

Orion Jean, 11, is Recognized as the 2021 Kid of the Year for His Work Organizing Campaigns Focused on Doing Good Deeds for Others, Including his Race to Kindness Initiative

Kid of the Year TV Special, Hosted by Trevor Noah and Produced by TIME Studios, Aired on Nickelodeon on Wednesday, Feb. 9, at 7:30 p.m. (ET/PT)

The Special is also Available to Watch on, Nick App and Nick On Demand Beginning Thursday, Feb. 10

NEW YORK, Feb. 9, 2022 -- TIME, TIME for Kids and Nickelodeon announced 11-year-old ambassador for kindness Orion Jean from Texas as the 2021 Kid of the Year, the multiplatform initiative recognizing extraordinary young leaders who are making a positive impact in their communities.

Selected from thousands of submissions, 2021 Kid of the Year Orion Jean is featured on the cover of the Feb. 28/ Mar. 7 issue of TIME, available on newsstands on Friday, Feb. 18. See the cover above.

In an interview with Angelina Jolie for TIME, humanitarian Orion Jean speaks about his work to start a kindness initiative: "Well, to me, it can be a number of things. And the one that I started was the race to kindness. The race to kindness is not just a series of events, but also a call to action. It's a way to get people involved in the community, you know, and when they see something happening now they can go out and do something about it… kindness is a choice, and while we can't force others to be kind, we can be kind ourselves and hope to inspire other people. So many people have great ideas but never act on them. I think it's all about really caring about the issues that you're seeing. Someone told me that you have to find something that breaks your heart for you to really get out there and make a difference in that area. And I want others to know that they can start today. If there's an issue or problem or something that they see that they want to solve, all it takes is really just knowing deep down inside that it's something you care about, and you can go out and get started."

Read the full interview and TIME cover story:

Kid of the Year Orion Jean, alongside the other top five finalists and honorees, is recognized during the second-annual Kid of the Year TV special, hosted and executive produced by Trevor Noah. The special was simulcast across Nickelodeon, TeenNick and Nicktoons on Wednesday, Feb. 9, at 7:30 p.m. (ET/PT). Beginning Thursday, Feb. 10, the special will also be available to watch on, Nick App and Nick On Demand.

The Kid of the Year TV special featured guest stars from entertainment, sports and pop culture to help surprise the top five Kid of the Year finalists and celebrate their work. Celebrity guests making appearances throughout the special included Jabari Banks, Charli D'Amelio, Dude Perfect, Rob Gronkowski, Scarlett Johansson, Let It Happen, Charles Melton, 2020 Kid of the Year Gitanjali Rao, and Meghan Trainor, among others. The special also featured a kid committee comprised of Nickelodeon stars Alaya "That Girl Lay Lay" High, Dylan "Young Dylan" Gilmer and Wolfgang Schaeffer.

Each of the five Kid of the Year honorees will receive a cash prize and have the opportunity to serve as a Kid Reporter for TIME for Kids with exclusive access to a Nickelodeon event. For additional information about the initiative, visit and here on for stories about the finalists rolling out leading up to the second annual Kid of the Year reveal.

Kid of the Year is sponsored by Greenlight® and OshKosh B'gosh®.

The Kid of the Year TV special is a co-production of TIME Studios, Day Zero Productions, Mainstay Entertainment and Nickelodeon. Executive Producers include Ian Orefice, Mike Beck, Maria Perez-Brown, Rebecca Gitlitz, and Jeff Smith (TIME Studios), Andrea Delbanco (TIME For Kids), Trevor Noah, Sanaz Yamin, and Ashley Dizon (Day Zero Productions), Norman Aladjem, Derek Van Pelt (Mainstay Entertainment) and Ashley Kaplan, Paul J Medford and Luke Wahl (Nickelodeon).

About TIME
TIME is a global media brand that reaches a combined audience of more than 100 million around the world. A trusted destination for reporting and insight, TIME's mission is to tell the stories that matter most, to lead conversations that change the world and to deepen understanding of the ideas and events that define our time. With unparalleled access to the world's most influential people, the immeasurable trust of consumers globally, an unrivaled power to convene, TIME is one of the world's most recognizable media brands with renowned franchises that include the TIME100 Most Influential People, Person of the Year, Firsts, Best Inventions, World's Greatest Places and premium events including the TIME100 Summit and Gala, TIME100 Health Summit, TIME100 Next and more.

About TIME Studios
From one of the most globally iconic brands, TIME Studios is an Emmy Award®-winning television, film and immersive studio focusing on the development, production and distribution of truth-based premium unscripted and scripted storytelling that moves the world. With technical innovation and a brand defining visual language that dates back 98 years, TIME Studios aims to impact communities and the world at large with ideas that forge true progress. Combining the industry's leading creators with TIME, one of the most trusted brands that reaches an audience of over 100 million people globally, TIME Studios is uniquely positioned to bring massive audiences to the world's most impactful stories. Recent projects include, Black Gold (Paramount+), Big Vape (Netflix), John Lewis: Good Trouble (CNN Films), Amazing Grace (Neon), Right to Offend (A&E), Ricky Powell: The Individualist (Showtime), Mass Effect: The Story of YouTube, Kid of the Year (Nickelodeon/CBS), TIME100 (ABC), TIME Person of the Year, and the first scripted project for TIME Studios, Women of the Year (Amazon).

About TIME for Kids
Since 1995, TIME for Kids has delivered age-appropriate news and current-events content to millions of students in elementary and middle school classrooms across the U.S, and, now, for the first time, to homes, to keep kids learning, help them understand the news, and connect them to the world. Each week, TIME for Kids presents news in a format that teaches young readers to become critical thinkers and informed citizens. As an educational publication, the mission of TIME for Kids is to help teachers and parents engage kids with the world around them and inspire them to join the conversation about current events.

About Day Zero Productions
Day Zero Productions, a joint venture between ViacomCBS and Trevor Noah, develops and produces diverse, high-quality creative content for a global audience. With projects set up both within the ViacomCBS family, as well as at other studios, streamers, and live platforms, Day Zero focuses on entertaining and necessary content, with an eye toward authentic stories from diverse points of view. Among the current projects are the adaptation of Noah's best-selling and award-winning autobiography "Born A Crime," with Lupita Nyong'o starring and a reimagining of the classic Paramount feature President's Analyst. Additional features include a biopic centered on 8-year-old Nigerian chess champion Tanitoluwa Adewumi and an untitled animated feature with Paramount Animation and Mainstay Entertainment, based on an original idea from Noah. On the television side, Day Zero is producing several scripted and documentary series including partnering with Time Studios and Sugar23 on The Tipping Point, which examines urgent issues around the world from voting rights to civil rights, human rights to healthcare, and American Democracy to the global refugee crisis. Day Zero also produces Nickelodeon's annual Kid of the Year TV special alongside TIME Studios.

About Nickelodeon
Nickelodeon, now in its 42nd year, is the number-one entertainment brand for kids. It has built a diverse, global business by putting kids first in everything it does. The brand includes television programming and production in the United States and around the world, plus consumer products, digital, location-based experiences, publishing and feature films. For more information or artwork, visit Nickelodeon and all related titles, characters and logos are trademarks of ViacomCBS Inc.


The wait is over! Nickelodeon, TIME and TIME for Kids have announced 11-year-old Orion Jean as Kid of the Year 2021! Orion was announced Kid of a Year during a TV special on Nickelodeon on February 9.


Selected from a field of more than 5,000 nominees, Orion leads campaigns to help people in need, inspired others to join his crusade for kindness along the way.

“If you see a problem, fix it.” That’s how Orion Jean describes his work. Orion sees himself as an ambassador for kindness. He finds ways to help others wherever he sees a need. It might be collecting and donating 100,000 meals to food-insecure families or half a million books to kids with none at home. At a time when people are feeling isolated and divided, Orion sees a better, kinder world. It’s the world we could have if more people like him brought communities together to help their neediest members.

As Kid of the Year, Orion will featured on the cover of TIME and in additional coverage in TIME For Kids.

Orion spoke with actor and humanitarian Angelina Jolie over Zoom from his home, in Fort Worth, Texas.

ALL SMILES Orion Jean celebrates his win as TIME’s Kid of the Year for 2021. JUSTIN J. WEE FOR TIME

Angelina Jolie: Can you explain your work and how it came to be?

Orion: When the pandemic began, people were losing their jobs, homes, and access to food and other essential things. I wanted to help. But the opportunity actually came when my teacher suggested I enter the National Kindness Speech Contest in 2020. I won, and with the prize money, I started a kindness initiative to help people.

Jolie: You’ve said that kindness is a choice. How can people make that choice?

Orion: We can’t force others to be kind, but we can be kind ourselves and hope to inspire other people. So many people have great ideas but never act on them. I want others to know that they can start today. If there’s an issue or problem you want to solve, all it takes is just knowing deep down that it’s something you care about.

Jolie: You really have a gift for sharing warmth and kindness. Do you ever feel overwhelmed or sad when you see people who are unkind?

Orion: Absolutely. One thing about being kind is that you perk up when you hear other people being unkind, or when you hear about people who aren’t doing the right thing. And it makes you sad inside. I hope that by spreading kindness, I can inspire people to change their ways and be more kind in the future.

Jolie: It feels better to be kind, doesn’t it?

Orion: Yes. Kindness can be as easy as not being mean to someone, not talking behind their back or posting that mean comment on social media. That’s what kindness can be. It can just be as simple as not being cruel.

Jolie: So, I know you also started an initiative around books. Tell me that story.

Orion: I’ve loved books ever since I can remember. To me, literacy is something that can get you off the ground. It can allow you eventually to get that job, or maybe it’s just a way for you to escape your everyday life, to learn about a new person or culture. Some kids don’t have access to any books. They live in book deserts. I want to get books out to those areas. I don’t do this on my own. I have a whole team behind me: my parents, family, all the generous corporate donors and organizations. They’re doing this because they feel compelled to help people in their community.

Jolie: How do you balance activism with just being a kid?

Orion: I’ve tried musical instruments, like drums and piano. I play video games with friends. Just taking time to relax and be 11. Self-care is important, just every now and then knowing when to step back and take a break.

Jolie: You have such an understanding of what’s important in life. It’s really an honor to meet you.

Orion: The pleasure, believe me, is all mine.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Watch the interview HERE.

A massive congratulations to Orion!

Originally published: February 10, 2022.

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