Our Padma Lakshmi recently traded the company of Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons to mix it up with Newt Gingrich, Matt Lauer, Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston, and Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter.
"Earlier this week I had the great honor of participating in Time Magazine's panel to deliberate over potential nominees for Person of the Year," the Top Chef host writes on her site. "Each year, the title is bestowed upon the person or persons who most influenced our world and the news, 'for better or for worse.' We each presented our top choices for Person of the Year and defended our arguments, and there were several chances for group debate."
A dedicated champion of women's rights, the mom to daughter Krishna backed Malala Yousafzai and Aung San Suu Kyi winning the 2012 title. "These two women have utterly transformed the way in which the world views the intersection between politics, women's rights, and human rights."
At just 15, Malala was on her way home from school when she was shot point-blank in the head by the Taliban. "After she started a blog documenting life under Taliban rule in Pakistan and expressing a longing for women's rights and education, the Taliban began to track her movements," Padma says. Miraculously, the teen survived and is now recovering in England.
As for her other contender, Padma says, "Over the past two decades or so, Suu Kyi spoke out against the (Burmese) government and continued her political involvement, even when under house arrest. In fact, she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her valiant efforts. Her most recent release came in November 2010, and this spring she won the parliamentary election for the NLD, officially taking office in May."
Time's official choice will be announced in December; in the meantime, follow all of Padma's passions with our Tweet Tracker.