The Hollywood Reporter's 2019 Women in Entertainment Power 100

6:00 AM 12/11/2019

by THR staff

Dozens of new faces join Oprah, Shari Redstone and Michelle Obama on Hollywood’s annual list of the female players pulling in box office billions, running the streamers, sealing innovative deals and charting the future of an industry in flux.

ONE TIME USE ONLY -Awkwafina, Lorene Scafaria, Regina King and Ann Sarnoff Split 2-H 2019
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images; Diana King; Sami Drasin; Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Profiles written by Seth Abramovitch, Kirsten Chuba, Rebecca Ford, Mia Galuppo, Carolyn Giardina, Lesley Goldberg, Marisa Guthrie, Natalie Jarvey, Rebecca Keegan, Pamela McClintock, Michael O'Connell, Bryn Elise Sandberg, Tatiana Siegel, Piya Sinha-Roy and Rebecca Sun.

  • Victoria Alonso

    CATEGORY The Execs

    Alonso oversaw the making of all-time box office champ Avengers: Endgame ($2.798 billion) and Captain Marvel ($1.128 billion). The latter, directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, became the first female-helmed film to top $1 billion. Next up for the Buenos Aires native is Scarlett Johansson stand-alone Black Widow (May 1).

    Young people in my life are most impressed by "My ability to not spill Marvel secrets."

  • Jennifer Aniston

    CATEGORY The A-List

    As Friends hit its 25th anniversary, Aniston lent her "America's Sweetheart" status to Netflix's Murder Mystery (the streamer's second-most-watched original movie to date, with a purported 73 million viewers), Apple's first (soapy news drama Morning Show, which she produces alongside co-star Reese Witherspoon) and … Instagram. Her October arrival on the social platform was treated like a national holiday, and she's already accumulated more than 21 million followers.

  • Sarah Aubrey

    CATEGORY The Execs

    Promoted in January to oversee originals at the forthcoming streamer, the Turner alumna has assembled an overwhelmingly female executive team (79 percent of them women) — inking deals with Mindy Kaling, Issa Rae and Ellen DeGeneres to make some of the 50-plus originals HBO Max plans to premiere in year one. 

    Young people in my life are most impressed by "My new friendships with Elmo and Cookie Monster!"

    My greatest indulgence "Southern Charm and Below Deck."

  • Awkwafina

    CATEGORY The A-List

    After breakout parts in Crazy Rich Asians and Ocean's Eight, the rapper turned actress has legit awards buzz for her starring role in The Farewell. And while there are a few blockbuster hopefuls on deck — Jumanji: The Next Level (out Dec. 13), Marvel's Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Disney's live-action The Little Mermaid — her next vehicle is a semi-autobiographical Comedy Central half-hour. Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens, which she executive produces and writes, bows Jan. 22.

    One thing I can never get to "Remembering my fish oil vitamins. I hear they're great for you."

    I'd like to set a meeting with "Jane Goodall."

    2019 project envy "I would’ve loved to have been a bit part in the Downton Abbey movie."

    My greatest indulgence "This year: paying off my student loans."

  • Bela Bajaria, Channing Dungey, Lisa Nishimura and Jane Wiseman

    CATEGORY The Execs

    Leaving her ABC post in 2018, Dungey quickly joined the originals roster at the dominant streamer — overseeing creators Shonda Rhimes, D.B. Weiss and David Benioff. Wiseman, meanwhile, is responsible for Emmy-nominated comedies Russian Doll and Dead to Me. 2019 saw doc guru Nishimura, who launched Our Planet, move over to run the platform's indie films team. And as the company continues to spread across the globe, Bajaria oversees teams in dozens of territories, including Europe, India, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.

    I'd like to set a meeting with

    Bajaria: "The whistleblower."

    One thing I can never get to

    Dungey: "Meditation. The desire is there, my execution is sorely lacking."

    Last book I devoured

    Nishimura: "Ocean Vuong's On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous."

    Young people in my life are most impressed by 

    Wiseman: "My indirect association with Stranger Things."

  • Gina Balian

    CATEGORY The Execs

    Post-Disney merger, Balian oversees all of FX's scripted fare alongside Nick Grad — signaling a major vote of confidence from boss John Landgraf and Disney brass. Her past year's work was lauded at the Emmys, with both Fosse/Verdon and Pose nabbing trophies for their stars, as Balian's 2020 lineup includes the Cate Blanchett-led Mrs. America and a new iteration of Fargo starring Chris Rock.

    Last book I devoured "The Testaments by Margaret Atwood."

  • Kristine Belson

    CATEGORY The Execs

    After Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse earned $375.5 million and an Oscar for best animated feature, Belson locked auteurs Phil Lord and Chris Miller into a nine-figure deal, while a Spider-Verse sequel and The Mitchells vs. the Machines already have dates set. "It's a real filmmaker-driven studio," says Belson, who also has Lin-Manuel Miranda writing songs for 2021's Vivo.

  • Sarah Barnett

    CATEGORY The C-Suite

    Barnett added studio oversight to her growing collection at the prestige cable outfit in August, and her first year in AMC's top entertainment post brought sweet victories (Killing Eve's doubled audience and an Emmy for star Jodie Comer) and rich problems (The Walking Dead, still cable's No. 1 show with 5 million weekly viewers, is hitting lows). Dead spinoff World Beyond, due in 2020, should illuminate whether the franchise has an expiration date.

    I'd like to set a meeting with "Donald Glover. He can do it all."

    Last book I devoured "Hot Milk by Deborah Levy."

    2019 project envy "Russian Doll … intricately structured while bursting with charisma and originality."

  • Lorrie Bartlett, Hildy Gottlieb, Toni Howard and Kathleen Remington

    CATEGORY The Reps

    At the top of client Regina King's wild 2019, Bartlett was appointed to ICM's board of directors — not that King was ICM's only Oscar-winning actress. Alongside Olivia Colman's U.K. team, Gottlieb reps the star of The Favourite and The Crown. Veteran Howard's client Samuel L. Jackson remains the highest-grossing movie star of all time ($16.7 billion in box office), and recent Next Gen honoree Remington is proving THR prescient with hit clients Gary Dauberman (It: Chapter Two) and Chris Morgan (Hobbs & Shaw, Bird Box).

    I'd like to set a meeting with

    Bartlett: "Melania Trump."

    Howard: "David Geffen."

    Last book I devoured

    Gottlieb: "The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt."

    Remington: "Daring Greatly by Brené Brown and 1001 Questions to Ask Before You Get Married."

  • Frances Berwick

    CATEGORY The C-Suite

    Live viewing might be in decline, but Berwick flagship Bravo proves its audience is still ravenous. November's BravoCon — three days of events with network talent in New York — sold out in minutes, with tickets going for $300 to $1,500. And Berwick, who also oversees Universal Kids, E! and Oxygen, gets some increasingly rare cable brags. Reviving Project Runway at Bravo (after several years at Lifetime) saw viewership jump 38 percent.

    I've encountered unconscious bias when "Only women on a panel get asked the 'work-life balance' question."

  • Carolyn Blackwood and Blair Rich

    CATEGORY The Execs

    As It: Chapter Two was amassing nearly $500 million at the global box office, Blackwood was elevated from her New Line gig to COO of Warner Bros. Pictures. The Connecticut native also counts Shazam! ($364 million) and Annabelle Comes Home ($228 million) among 2019 wins. As for Rich, her pitch-perfect Joker campaign helped make it the first R-rated movie to cross $1 billion worldwide.

    One thing I can never get to

    Blackwood: "A clean inbox."

    2019 project envy

    Blackwood: "Is this a trick question? Avengers: Endgame."

    Rich: "Ford v Ferrari. I’m a huge racing fan and it’s one of the greatest stories in racing history."

    I'd like to set a meeting with

    Rich: "Jeff Bezos. He just gave almost $100 million to homeless organizations who help families through his Bezos Day One Fund; I’d love to partner with him in architecting an appeal to more powerful advocates like him."

  • Michelle Bohan, Sharon Jackson, Theresa Kang-Lowe and Elyse Scherz

    CATEGORY The Reps

    Scherz is the woman behind Charlize Theron and new client Kristen Stewart, while Jackson's Amy Poehler and Natasha Lyonne partnered for Netflix's Russian Doll. Bohan client Steve Carell is holding his own on Apple TV+'s The Morning Show, ahead of a comic return in pricey Netflix series Space Force. Kang-Lowe, a prominent champion of industry inclusion, welcomed new clients Alfonso Cuarón, Riz Ahmed and The Mandalorian director Deborah Chow in 2019.

    My greatest indulgence

    Jackson: "Postmates."

    Last book I devoured

    Jackson: "150 Best Ebelskiver Recipes by Camilla V. Saulsbury"

    Kang-Lowe: "Alexander Chee's How to Write an Autobiographical Novel."

    2019 project envy

    Bohan: "Democratic debates."

    Kang-Lowe: "Succession is a perfect series, and I’m wishing for many seasons of it."

    18-year-old me thought by now I'd be

    Bohan: "Working in politics in D.C."

  • Karey Burke

    CATEGORY The Execs

    In her year atop Disney's broadcast network, Burke has been particularly bullish on live — building Norman Lear and Jimmy Kimmel's Live in Front of a Studio Audience into a franchise and seeing The Little Mermaid Live rank as the top-rated entertainment telecast of the young 2019-20 season.

    2019 project envy "Fleabag!"

  • Suzan Bymel and Evelyn O'Neill

    CATEGORY The Reps

    Twenty-five years after first setting up shop as a two-woman operation, Bymel and O'Neill steer the careers of Anne Hathaway (Modern Love), Daniel Kaluuya (Queen & Slim), Chadwick Boseman (21 Bridges) and Little Women's Greta Gerwig.

    I'd like to set a meeting with

    Bymel: "I have questions for John Bolton."

    Last book I devoured

    O'Neill: "My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite."

    2019 project envy

    Bymel: "Season two of Fleabag. It was perfect."

    O'Neill: "Since Little Women is actually mine, I'd have to say Parasite."

  • Megan Colligan

    CATEGORY The Execs

    Colligan made good on her pledge to leverage Imax-exclusive event programming. The former Paramount exec worked with Paul Thomas Anderson on short Anima and with Kanye West for 31-minute experimental film Jesus Is King. Most recently, Frozen 2 set an animated opening record with $18 million in Imax tickets.

    Daily media diet "Twitter is still the fastest way to check if anything is going on in the world you need to know about."

    One thing I can never get to "Think."

    2019 project envy "Parasite."

    My greatest indulgence "My tennis addiction."

    I've encountered unconscious bias when "I was a very senior person at a studio and walked into a party with the studio head and a junior male counterpart. The chairman asked me to get him a cocktail."

  • Agnes Chu

    CATEGORY The Execs

    Bob Iger tasked his former chief of staff to help build the Disney+ programming slate — The Mandalorian, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, a slew of upcoming Marvel projects — one of many pulls that helped the young service pass 10 million signups within 24 hours of its Nov. 12 launch.

    Last book I devoured "That's an easy one: Bob Iger's The Ride of a Lifetime."

    18-year-old me thought by now I'd be a "Cinematographer."

    My greatest indulgence "Reading the entire print Sunday NYT on a Sunday morning, a rare treat with an 18-month-old."

  • Nicole Clemens

    CATEGORY The Execs

    "It was a full revamp," Clemens says of her year at the helm of the Viacom-owned studio, which refreshed its team of 50 while adding nine new series (see: Chris Evans' Apple TV+ drama Defending Jacob) and scoring key renewals (Amazon's Jack Ryan) in a catalog of 27 shows across 13 platforms.

    One thing I can never get to "A nap."

    I'd like to set a meeting with "Ruth Bader Ginsburg."

    2019 project envy "Succession."

    My greatest indulgence "Daily dark chocolate."

  • Margie Cohn

    CATEGORY The Execs

    In January, Cohn expanded her purview to envelop TV and film. DWA's new president quickly oversaw the release of two hits: $520 million-grossing How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World and Abominable, which pulled $175 million. Her TV unit continues to feed Amazon, Hulu and Netflix, with the latter's Spirit soon to be a feature.

    2019 project envy "Spider-Verse — we're not a superhero studio, but man, that was fresh!"

  • Melanie Cook, Deborah Klein, Jeanne Newman and Nina Shaw

    CATEGORY The Reps

    Klein helped Will Ferrell land a "precedent-breaking deal" for Christmas Carol (Apple), as Cook negotiated projects for stars Keanu Reeves, Sam Mendes and Holly Hunter. Newman helped fill Amy Sherman-Palladino's Marvelous Mrs. Maisel hiatus with a revival of Gypsy, and Shaw brokered an overall deal for John Legend (ABC) and a first-look for Regina King (Netflix).

    I'd like to set a meeting with

    Newman: "Gloria Steinem."

    My daily media diet

    Klein: "Fast-forwarding through Morning Joe."

    Shaw: "Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham's Still Processing."

  • Maha Dakhil, Hylda Queally, Sonya Rosenfeld and Beth Swofford

    CATEGORY The Reps

    Although at odds with the WGA, TV agent Rosenfeld still thrived in 2019, having pitched and sold Big Little Lies, The Morning Show and When They See Us, as well as brokering Ava DuVernay's Warner Bros. TV deal. DuVernay also is represented by Dakhil, who was promoted to CAA's motion picture leadership in February after signing Olivia Wilde. Swofford's client Guy Ritchie directed the $1 billion-grossing Aladdin, and Queally's Lupita Nyong'o and Daisy Ridley bookended 2019 with Us and Star Wars.

    Last book I devoured

    Queally: "Patrick Radden Keefe's Say Nothing."

    18-year-old me thought by now I'd be

    Rosenfeld: "The president of Saks Fifth Avenue."

    Swofford: "New York Times London bureau chief."

    Young people in my life are most impressed by

    Dakhil: "My voice in business for the advancement of women and people of color, along with my shoe collection."

  • Tonia Davis, Michelle Obama and Priya Swaminathan

    CATEGORY The Execs

    The faces of the former first family's Hollywood ambitions, Higher Ground co-heads Davis and Swaminathan have a flurry of noteworthy projects under the Obamas' multiyear Netflix deal — including adaptations of David W. Blight's Frederick Douglass biography and Michael Lewis' The Fifth Risk. The former first lady also will make podcasts for Spotify. "People always ask me, 'How often do you talk to [the Obamas]?' " says Davis of the Hollywood favorites. "Honestly, we talk like you would to any boss."

    My greatest indulgence 

    Davis: "Morning movies."

  • Ellen DeGeneres

    CATEGORY The A-List

    The funny force of nature, who appealed to the country to find common ground and inspired a Democratic debate question after being spotted with George W. Bush at an NFL game, balances her top-performing talk show (2.5 million daily viewers) with a dizzying amount of producing duties. She returned to stand-up with 2018 Netflix special Relatable and recently retooled Little Big Shots, which heads to NBC in March with Melissa McCarthy as host — that's after a new season of her own Ellen's Game of Games in January.

    One thing I can never get to "Cooking my own dinner. Oh, how I so wish I could cook my own dinner."

  • Marissa Devins, Susie Fox, Blair Kohan and Shani Rosenzweig

    CATEGORY The Reps

    Growing her agency's formidable comedy roster, Fox signed Tiffany Haddish and Ali Wong — while Rosenzweig put together Marvel star Paul Rudd's Living With Yourself at Netflix and closed his deal to star in a Ghostbusters remake. Kohan brokered prolific Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's overall deal with Lionsgate, also helping execute Hannah Gadsby's next act. And the writer impasse didn't keep Devins from negotiating Phoebe Waller-Bridge's $60 million Amazon deal in September. (The Brit isn't WGA.)

    My greatest indulgence

    Kohan: "A monthly Amazon delivery of high-end laundry detergent."

    Rosenzweig: "The Real Housewives franchise and candy — lots and lots of candy."

    I'd like to set a meeting with

    Rosenzweig: "Rupert Murdoch."

    Last book I devoured

    Fox: "I Just finished Trick Mirror [by Jia Tolentino], which was great, but my favorite read of the year was Bobcat by Rebecca Lee."

    18-year-old me thought by now I'd be

    Fox: "Running a summer camp."

    Devins: "Shift manager at Maloney’s in Tucson, Arizona."

    Young people in my life are most impressed by

    Devins: "My medical knowledge … I'm a self-declared doctor and a diagnosed hypochondriac."

    Kohan: "My closet, or stamina at Barry's Bootcamp"

  • Nancy Dubuc

    CATEGORY The C-Suite

    It didn't take long for Dubuc to make her presence known at the beleaguered media upstart. In her first full year, she laid off around 250 employees, raised $250 million in debt funding and struck a deal to acquire female-centric digital publisher Refinery29. Though HBO canceled both of its unscripted Vice series, the company now has projects at Showtime and Hulu. Vice also sold The Report to Amazon at Sundance for $14 million.

    I'd like to set a meeting with "New people with interesting thoughts and perspectives, inspired by Brian Grazer."

    18-year-old me thought by now I'd be "Living in Rhode Island."

  • Ava DuVernay

    CATEGORY Creative Forces

    DuVernay is following on the success of Netflix limited series When They See Us (16 Emmy noms) with a host of new projects made under her eight-figure Warner Bros. TV deal, HBO Max's DMZ and a TNT labor drama among them. She opened a theater at her Array headquarters in L.A.'s Historic Filipinotown earlier in 2019, recently tapped a production crew of more than 50 percent women for forthcoming OWN anthology Cherish the Day.

    Daily media diet "L.A. Times delivery. Yes, the actual paper one — and yes, I recycle."

  • Jessica Elbaum

    CATEGORY Creative Forces

    Elbaum, who launched the female-focused banner in 2014, is juggling two awards contenders this season: Olivia Wilde's Booksmart and Lorene Scafaria's Hustlers. The producer, who started out as Will Ferrell's assistant, also made serious moves in TV. Gloria Sanchez's Netflix comedy series Dead to Me was renewed for a second season after an Emmy nom for star Christina Applegate.

    18-year-old me thought by now I'd be "A weather girl on the KTLA morning news."

    Last book I devoured "Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson."

    2019 project envy "Euphoria."

  • Megan Ellison

    CATEGORY The C-Suite

    Ellison may be in a fallow period — a slew of top executives have left her company in the wake of several box office duds (The Sisters Brothers, Destroyer) and letting Hustlers and Bombshell go. Still, no one is counting out the tastemaker, who scored 14 Oscar nominations in 2019 for Vice, If Beale Street Could Talk and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.

  • Amy Entelis

    CATEGORY The Execs

    Entelis has a knack for championing critically acclaimed docs that also translate into box office surprises. Take Apollo 11, 2019's highest-grossing doc with $12.1 million and a likely Oscar nomination. Next, Entelis takes on a passion project about former CNN colleague — the late Anthony Bourdain.

    One thing I can never get to "Walk on the High Line, which is right outside our offices."

  • Kathleen Finch

    CATEGORY The C-Suite

    Using her 11 cable networks to promote A Very Brady Renovation, Finch's remodel event series (with a reunion of the Brady Bunch cast) reached a network record 28 million viewers. The year ahead might not have more Bradys for the 58-year-old, but it does have Gaineses. Fixer Upper couple Chip and Joanna launch new network Magnolia for Discovery in October.

    Daily media diet "It begins by reading Brian Stelter's newsletter and watching Morning Joe."

    My greatest indulgence "Unplanned days — a day when I have nothing scheduled and nowhere I need to be is very rare, and I relish them."

  • Elaine Frontain Bryant

    CATEGORY The Execs

    Frontain Bryant shepherds A&E's Live PD juggernaut. In summer 2019, it was the No. 1 show of the night 15 times out of 22 airings, besting competition on cable and broadcast and hitting a series-high 2.8 million viewers in June.

    18-year-old me thought by now I'd be "An Oscar-winning producer, resting at my home on the beach."

  • Elizabeth Gabler

    CATEGORY Creative Forces

    After Disney shuttered her Fox 2000 division, Gabler bounced back with a new division, 3000 Pictures, at Sony — reuniting the book-savvy executive behind The Devil Wears Prada and Life of Pi with former colleague Tom Rothman to adapt HarperCollins titles (the publisher is covering half of Gabler's overhead).

    Last book I devoured "Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson."

  • Joanna Gaines

    CATEGORY The A-List

    A year and a half after airing the last episode of HGTV breakout Fixer Upper, Gaines (and her husband, Chip) take their formidable Magnolia lifestyles brand to the next level in 2020 — lending its name to a new Discovery-owned network. "Jo," as her nearly 12 million Instagram followers know her, is staying put in Waco despite Hollywood ambitions. A growing programming team, led by former HGTV boss Allison Page, is in Texas developing a slate of "unique, inspiring and family-friendly" shows in time for an October launch. 

    I'd like to set a meeting with "[Spanx CEO] Sara Blakely — her work ethic, creativity and fearlessness are crazy inspiring, and you can tell she’s having fun."

    18-year-old me thought by now I'd be "A broadcast journalist."

  • Dede Gardner

    CATEGORY The Execs

    The producer scored 11 Oscar nominations in 2019 for Vice and If Beale Street Could Talk. And though Plan B found only modest box office traction with partner Brad Pitt's space odyssey Ad Astra ($127.1 million worldwide), the company just earned three Independent Spirit nominations for Sundance darling The Last Black Man in San Francisco.

  • Greta Gerwig

    CATEGORY Creative Forces

    One of only five women ever nominated for a best director Oscar, Lady Bird's Gerwig is eyeing history and a potential repeat feat with Christmas release Little Women. (No woman has ever been nominated twice in that category.) Critics are already gushing, with the $42 million Sony film boasting a 98 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Gerwig, who also adapted the literary classic, now pivots to less highbrow territory. Proving her interests are varied, she's attached to write (with partner Noah Baumbach) and direct (solo) a Barbie movie starring Margot Robbie. "Even at 36, I feel more like a kid would have felt at 14," she says. "I could make a sports movie … it could be anything."

  • Amy Gravitt, Nina Rosenstein and Francesca Orsi

    CATEGORY The Execs

    As the WarnerMedia era of HBO brings exits and culture shock, Gravitt, Rosenstein and Orsi deliver much-needed consistency and taste to the evolving prestige brand. Originals under their watch dominated the 2019 Emmys with 34 trophies, as Orsi boasts watercooler hits (Succession, Euphoria, Watchmen), Gravitt nurtures Phoebe Waller-Bridge-produced Run and Rosenstein looks to an unpredictable election year for John Oliver and Bill Maher.

    Last book I devoured

    Gravitt: "So Many Olympic Exertions by Anelise Chen."

    Young people in my life are most impressed by

    Orsi: "My candor, even when giving notes to talent."

    2019 project envy

    Rosenstein: "As a proud member of the Beyhive, I would have to say Homecoming."

  • Tiffany Haddish

    CATEGORY The A-List

    The enduringly popular comedian celebrates her upcoming 40th with Netflix special Black Mitzvah — an exploration of her Jewish heritage. When not practicing her Torah, she spent 2019 lending her vocal talents to short-lived Netflix comedy Tuca & Bertie and The Secret Life of Pets 2, acting in TBS' The Last O.G. and putting her improv skills to use on ABC's reboot of Kids Say the Darndest Things. She returns to the big screen in 2020, with roles in Like a Boss and Bad Trip. (And no, that's not a sequel to Girls Trip.)

    My most surprising follower on social media "Drake."

  • Bonnie Hammer

    CATEGORY The Execs

    Having proven that she can grow a cable portfolio in profit and revenue for 15 consecutive years, Hammer, 69, was tasked earlier this year with getting NBCUniversal's streaming service off the ground. She assembled a team, selected a name (Peacock), built out a brand and lined up programming -- all before being reassigned again this fall to oversee the company's studio business. In her new role, all of NBCU's suppliers, from Universal TV to UCP, will roll up under Hammer, who reports directly to CEO Steve Burke.

  • Marielle Heller

    CATEGORY Creative Forces

    Making her feature debut with The Diary of a Teenage Girl in 2015, Heller is establishing herself as a studio go-to for awards fare. The filmmaker's sophomore effort, Fox Searchlight's Can You Ever Forgive Me?, picked up three Oscar nominations and $12.4 million worldwide at the specialty box office — simultaneously helping Heller land Mr. Rogers movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, a potential Oscar vehicle for cardiganed star Tom Hanks.

    18-year-old me thought by now I'd be "A Broadway actress."

  • Cindy Holland

    CATEGORY Execs at the Apex

    Holland guides the TV side of Netflix's $15 billion annual content spend with offerings as varied as the Marie Kondo folding tutorial Tidying Up and the summer blockbuster Stranger Things (a record 40 million viewers its debut weekend, says the streamer). Russian Doll and When They See Us, both 2019 arrivals under her remit, helped usher in a whopping 117 Emmy nominations for the platform — as Holland navigates a crowded streaming sphere. "We've always run our business with the belief that other companies would try to build similar services and then retain content for themselves," says Holland, who's armed with a market-setting roster of exclusive deals (Shonda Rhimes, Ryan Murphy, Peter Morgan).

    Daily media diet "KCRW and The Economist."

    2019 project envy "Gentleman Jack."

  • Pearlena Igbokwe and Dawn Olmstead

    CATEGORY The Execs

    NBCUniversal's TV studio chiefs, both under newly launched NBCUniversal Content Studios, fended off free-spending streamers to keep top showrunners in-house during 2019. Igbokwe's UTV shelled out $125 million for Mike Schur (The Good Place), while Olmstead's UCP paid a studio record $80 million for Mr. Robot's Sam Esmail. The producers, like Igbokwe and Olmstead, will help supply content for streamer Peacock.

    I've encountered unconscious bias when

    Igbokwe: "A writer-producer asked my husband if I was 'equipped' for such a big job."

    One thing I can never get to

    Olmstead: "Exercise."

    Young people in my life are most impressed by 

    Olmstead: "My side hustles."

  • Nina Jacobson

    CATEGORY The Execs

    Jacobson and her Color Force partner Brad Simpson keep the TV pipeline flush — graphic novel adaptation Y: The Last Man is set to join Pose and a delayed American Crime Story (focused on Bill Clinton's impeachment) at FX — during a time when film proves tricky. Summer's one-two punch of The Goldfinch and Where'd You Go, Bernadette bruised the company more than moviegoer wallets.

    Young people in my life are most impressed by "My ability to text quickly with one thumb."

    I'd like to set a meeting with "Left to my own devices, Phoebe Waller-Bridge. If my son had any say in the matter, Markiplier."

    Last book I devoured "Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor."

  • Scarlett Johansson

    CATEGORY The A-List

    Marvel made Johansson the highest-grossing female star of all time. But this year the 35-year-old has gone back to her roots as a dramatic actress in two awards contenders, Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story (already nabbing her a Golden Globe nomination) and Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit. She’ll also host Saturday Night Live for a sixth time on Dec. 14, becoming just the third woman to do so. In 2020, Johansson returns the comic book realm, executive producing and starring in Black Widow.

    I'd like to set a meeting with “David Lynch.”

    2019 project envy “Robert De Niro’s part in The Irishman.”

    Young people in my life are most impressed by “My nail polish collection.”

    Click to read Taika Waititi's full story on Scarlett Johansson.

  • Mindy Kaling

    CATEGORY The A-List

    Moving her business to Warner Bros. in February with a six-year deal that will net her a base of $8.5 million annually, Kaling continues to prove herself one of Hollywood's most sought-after scribes. The Late Night filmmaker set comedy series College Girls at HBO Max, while Netflix readies the last of her efforts for former partner Universal TV: the coming-of-age comedy Never Have I Ever. "Now that I have had my own show and have done all the glamorous things my actor ego wanted to do," says Kaling, "it's fun to be writing roles for other women and finding talent."

    2019 project envy "I love The Crown and Rick and Morty and how the visions of both shows, however different, are so singular and realized."

    I'd like to set a meeting with "Greta Gerwig or David O. Russell."

    I've encountered unconscious bias when "I think there is a lot of ageism in TV. It’s rare to find a woman over the age of 45 in any comedy writers room."

    My most surprising follower on social media "Steve Kerr, head coach of the Golden State Warriors. He’s so smart and funny."

  • Lisa Katz, Tracey Pakosta and Meredith Ahr

    CATEGORY The Execs

    The only broadcast execs with projects nominated in the Emmys' best drama (This Is Us) and comedy (The Good Place) races, Katz and Pakosta have a lot to brag about and one rich problem — NBC lost its No. 1 hold on adults 18-49 for the first fall in four years. Reality-focused Ahr, with network and studio oversight, is now launching international formats (see summer hits Bring the Funny and Songland) while nurturing hits such as The Voice and America's Got Talent.

    Daily media diet

    Pakosta: "The Daily."

    Last book I devoured

    Katz: "The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo."

    I'd like to set a meeting with

    Ahr: "Bill and Melinda Gates."

    One thing I can never get to

    Ahr: "Calling my girlfriends. Thank goodness for our group text."  

    Pakosta: "Sleep."

    Young people in my life are most impressed by

    Ahr: "The fact that just 18 years ago I was giving tours of 30 Rock as an NBC Page."

  • Kathleen Kennedy

    CATEGORY The C-Suite

    Wrapping a year of ups ("Baby Yoda!") and downs (underwhelming attendance at Star Wars park attractions), December's The Rise of Skywalker brings with it a period of transition. Boss Bob Iger has said future Star Wars films are on "hiatus" despite grossing nearly $5 billion at the box office since coming into the Disney fold.

  • Paula Kerger

    CATEGORY The C-Suite

    PBS turns 50 this year, and its longest-tenured chief marked the occasion with another contract extension to keep her at the helm into 2024. Battling a GOP administration bent on zeroing out her platform's modest federal funding, she recently took steps to future-proof PBS with a deal to bring its stations to YouTube. And if Trump doesn't get the appeal of PBS, viewers do. PBS stations consistently are ranked No. 1 in public trust among U.S. institutions.

    Last book I devoured "The Unwinding of the Miracle, by Julie Yip-Williams, a powerful reminder to live each moment in its fullest."

  • Aleen Keshishian

    CATEGORY The Reps

    Client Jennifer Aniston's highly anticipated — and, at $2 million an episode plus points, lucrative — Apple TV+ series, The Morning Show, premiered Nov. 1. Keshishian's company produced Bombshell (it reps screenwriter Charles Randolph), while she has an executive producer credit on Ryan Murphy's upcoming Ratched.

    Last book I devoured "Chelsea Handler's Life Will Be the Death of Me and Laura Lynne Jackson's Signs: The Secret Language of the Universe."

    Young people in my life are most impressed by "My 100-pound dog Boomer."

  • Nicole Kidman

    CATEGORY The A-List

    Still among the busiest performers in Hollywood — appearing in Big Little Lies, Aquaman, The Goldfinch and Bombshell within 12 months — Kidman is taking on a bigger behind-the-scenes role. She's executive producing upcoming drama series The Expatriates as the first project through her Blossom Films' first-look deal with Amazon — not that Kidman is limiting herself to just one outlet. The producer also has Nine Perfect Strangers at Hulu and The Undoing at HBO.

    Last book I devoured "Chelsea Handler's Life Will Be the Death of Me. It made me cry. It was so raw and honest."

    My greatest indulgence "Daydreaming and midday naps."

  • Regina King

    CATEGORY The A-List

    The multiple-Emmy-winning actress followed her 2019 Oscar for If Beale Street Could Talk with one of the most discussed TV performances of the fall — reteaming with Leftovers showrunner Damon Lindelof to star in HBO's Watchmen. King and her production company, Royal Ties, recently signed a first-look deal with Netflix, and she's prepping her feature directorial debut: an adaptation of Kemp Powers' play One Night in Miami.

    Last book I devoured "Sulwe by Lupita Nyong'o. It's a children's book, but every black woman and girl should have or gift a copy."

  • Donna Langley

    CATEGORY Execs at the Apex

    Langley's January promotion further solidified her standing as the only woman running a major Hollywood film studio — where she now heads global theatrical distribution and home entertainment in addition to continuing to shepherd production and marketing, among other duties (her new title previously belonged to NBCUniversal chairman of film and entertainment Jeff Shell). The studio continues to thrive on such pay-dirt franchises as Jurassic World and Fast & Furious (the spinoff Hobbs & Shaw netted $759 million globally), but original fare prospered at the 2019 box office in a tribute to Langley's focus on a diverse slate. Jordan Peele's Us earned $255.1 million against a modest $20 million budget, and two equally less expensive projects (the Beatles-inspired Yesterday and the blue comedy Good Boy) each grossed more than $100 million. "The goal is to be nimble and innovate while staying rational and not overreacting to the market," says Langley, who'll test that theory with her next gamble: Tom Hooper's spin on the musical Cats — already internet snark fodder — which bows Dec. 20. Universal is also handling Sam Mendes' 1917 (Dec. 25) for Steven Spielberg's Amblin, as it did last year for the Oscar-winning Green Book.

    One thing I can never get to "I’ve made it a practice not to attempt to get to everything in a day and do a fewer things better."

    Young people in my life are most impressed by "Who am I kidding? Young people are not impressed with anything I do."

  • Cassidy Lange

    CATEGORY The Execs

    A decade after her studio was on the brink of bankruptcy, Lange has helped revitalize MGM — overseeing the studio's first fully produced animated feature The Addams Family ($176 million at the box office on a $40 million budget) and signing George Clooney's Smokehouse Pictures to a first-look deal. 2020 brings the release of delayed James Bond flick No Time to Die, the first to come with spinoff potential via cast addition Lashana Lynch; horror reboot Candyman; Aretha Franklin biopic Respect starring Jennifer Hudson; Legally Blonde 3 with Reese Witherspoon reprising her role and the film adaptation of Gail Honeyman’s novel Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine in partnership with Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine banner and Addams Family 2 in 2021.

    2019 project envy "Little Women. It's everything you hope it to be."

  • Brie Larson

    CATEGORY The A-List

    Once an indie mainstay, Larson cemented herself as a global star by toplining Captain Marvel. As that film grossed more than $1 billion at the box office and Avengers: Endgame (in which Larson's titular superhero also appeared) made nearly $3 billion, Larson has leveraged her new platform to advocate for Time's Up, improve female representation in Hollywood and get her directorial debut, Unicorn Store, distribution on Netflix.

    Daily media diet "Googling 'Pikachu Army,' staring at Rosalía's Instagram, reading Alan Watts quotes on Twitter, listening to On Being With Krista Tippett."

  • Jennifer Lee

    CATEGORY Execs at the Apex

    Frozen 2 cements Lee as the dominating executive force in animation, overseeing its wildly successful rollout ($750.6 million worldwide) as both the top creative at Disney Animation Studios and the feature's writer and one of the directors. (She also was behind the Oscar-winning 2013 original.) As the Rhode Island native turns her full attention to the role she inherited after John Lasseter's 2018 ouster, Lee is acutely focused on growing her studio's talent base — recently announcing four new collaborators to direct features, two from within the studio (Josie Trinidad and Marc Smith) and two independent filmmakers (Carlos López Estrada and Suzi Yoonessi). "We want people from around the world — different voices telling different types of stories," Lee says. "We want to evolve both in our features and where we can experiment." As for experimentation, next month Disney+ debuts 14 new shorts created through the studio's Short Circuit development initiative. And Raya and the Last Dragon (Nov. 25, 2020) is next up on the feature side.

    Young people in my life are most impressed by "My willingness to be wrong and to listen to what they're passionate about."

  • Jennifer Lopez

    CATEGORY The A-List

    After nearly a four-year big-screen hiatus that ended with 2018's Second Act (over $70 million at the global box office), Lopez now finds herself in serious awards contention for the first time since she broke out in the late-1990s with Selena and Out of Sight. Hustlers, the feature she produced with partner Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, has earned $150 million globally. Even before any potential appearance at the Dolby, the multihyphenate will grace a Miami stage for Super Bowl LIV's halftime show.

  • Natasha Lyonne, Amy Poehler and Leslye Headland

    CATEGORY The A-List

    This trio's hive mind delivered a cerebrally comic spin on Groundhog Day and 2019's first watercooler hit with Netflix's Russian Doll. The series found itself on most of the year's top 10 lists, one reason why the 13-time Emmy nominee — which counts Lyonne as star and Headland as showrunner — was renewed for a second season.

    Daily media diet

    Lyonne: "Karina Longworth's You Must Remember This and Kara Swisher's Recode Decode."

    I'd like to set a meeting with

    Headland: "Sharon Stone."

    Lyonne: "The ghost of Sue Mengers."

    Last book I devoured

    Headland: "Make It Scream Make It Burn by Leslie Jamison."
     

  • Alexis Martin Woodall

    CATEGORY Creative Forces

    Working her way up from production assistant on boss Ryan Murphy's Nip/Tuck, Martin Woodall was named the head of Murphy's company in August — now managing all TV and film productions on his almost-ready-for-primetime Netflix slate that includes series Hollywood and Ratched as well as film adaptations of Broadway shows The Prom and The Boys in the Band.

    2019 project envy "Hustlers is so smart and compelling. I ate it like candy."

  • Katie McGrath and Hannah Minghella

    CATEGORY The Execs

    McGrath helped land her and husband J.J. Abrams' company a $250 million-plus WarnerMedia megadeal in September. A force in film (another Abrams-directed Star Wars arrives Dec. 20) and TV (HBO's Westworld), Bad Robot has given the Time's Up organizer industry clout and a platform for advocacy. In October, Bad Robot tapped TriStar vet Minghella to the company's top film job, as her TriStar effort A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood eyes Oscar.

    Last book I devoured 

    McGrath: "Ayiti by Roxane Gay."

    My greatest indulgence 

    Minghella: "A weekend nap."

  • Julie McNamara

    CATEGORY The Execs

    Five-year-old All Access, now part of the combined ViacomCBS, surpassed its target of 4 million subscribers two years earlier than planned thanks in part to McNamara's curation of originals Star Trek: Discovery, The Twilight Zone and The Good Fight. She'll expand output to 14 series in 2020 — led by Patrick Stewart Star Trek return Picard.

    Daily media diet "The Ron Burgundy Podcast, the Cabinet of Curiosities podcast and MSNBC."

    I'd like to set a meeting with "Wes Anderson."

    Young people in my life are most impressed by "My haircut."

  • Janet Mock

    CATEGORY Creative Forces

    Breaking new ground as the first trans woman of color to write for a TV series in 2018 when Pose premiered, Mock has gone on to direct the FX series and, in June, sign a multimillion-dollar deal with Netflix for TV and film projects. That's not to say the activist and former magazine editor is leaving Murphy's orbit. Mock recently directed an episode of The Politician before boarding Murphy's Hollywood as executive producer.

    I've encountered unconscious bias when "I am almost exclusively ever pitched projects about trans people. My identities inform my perspective, but they don't limit my abilities or silo the stories I can tell."

    One thing I can never get to "Reading books for pleasure." 

    I'd like to set a meeting with "Donald Glover."

    2019 project envy "Euphoria."

    Young people in my life are most impressed by "The fact that I've directed Jessica Lange." 

    My greatest indulgence "Valentino combat boots I wear while directing." 

  • Courteney Monroe

    CATEGORY The C-Suite

    Monroe's prestige push paid off in 2019 with Nat Geo's first-ever Oscar (and seven Emmy Awards) for the climbing doc Free Solo. Retaining the reins of the brand after its sale to Disney, she also launched miniseries The Hot Zone and the Gordon Ramsay travelogue Uncharted and cast Cynthia Erivo as Aretha Franklin for the next installment of Genius.

    18-year-old me thought by now I'd be "The lead anchor of Today."

  • Elisabeth Murdoch, Stacey Snider and Jane Featherstone

    CATEGORY The Execs

    For their company, launched in October, Murdoch, former Fox film chief Snider and British producer Featherstone have ambitious content plans — spanning all platforms, with the Murdoch media magnate backing the venture almost entirely on her own dime. They've already set up a Bee Gees biopic at Paramount with Bohemian Rhapsody producer Graham King.

    Last book I devoured 

    Murdoch: "The Truants by Kate Weinberg."

    I'd like to set a meeting with 

    Snider: "Joan Didion."

    One thing I can never get to 

    Featherstone: "My desk."

  • Lupita Nyong'o

    CATEGORY The A-List

    Oscar winner Nyong'o is back on the awards circuit for her two roles in Jordan Peele's Us, an early 2019 commercial hit with $255 million at the global box office. The actress, who has worked in both the Star Wars and Marvel cinematic universes, will star in and produce Trevor Noah's Born a Crime and the HBO Max series Americanah. She recently became an author, publishing children's book Sulwe.

    My greatest indulgence "Leaving long, melodic voice messages on my friends' phones."

  • Dawn Ostroff and Liz Gateley

    CATEGORY The Execs

    In 2019, Spotify spent nearly $400 million on podcast acquisitions, lured Barack and Michelle Obama to audio and inked deals for more than 30 new shows. It's on the back of those originals (from the likes of Jordan Peele and Paul Feig) that Ostroff and Gateley hope to see the Swedish company's subscriptions top the current 113 million.

    I'd like to set a meeting with

    Ostroff: "Reed Hastings."

    Gateley: "My husband, at a restaurant on a Tuesday night."

    Last book I devoured

    Ostroff: "Marc Benioff's Trailblazer."

    Gateley: "Jewel's memoir Never Broken."

    18-year-old me thought by now I'd be

    Ostroff: "A foreign correspondent."

  • Amy Pascal

    CATEGORY Creative Forces

    The former studio chief ascended the Oscars stage, crutches and all, to accept her award with the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse team. After that, 2019 was a year of transition for her. She left her deal at Sony, home of 30 years, for a first-look with Universal. Her remaining Sony titles are pretty enviable — Greta Gerwig's Little Women and the Spider-Man franchise.

    18-year-old me thought by now I'd be "Retired."

    My greatest indulgence "The Great British Bake Off." 

    Young people in my life are most impressed by "God only knows."

  • Cynthia Pett

    CATEGORY The Reps

    Opening 2019 with an Academy Award for client Rami Malek, Pett has a new Oscar frontrunner in Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood). The manager's roster also includes Katherine Langford (Knives Out) and Elizabeth Olsen, whose Marvel slate (Disney+ series WandaVision, a Doctor Strange sequel) has her busy through 2021. 

    I'd like to set a meeting with "Robert Plant."

    18-year-old me thought by now I'd be "A criminologist."

  • Issa Rae

    CATEGORY The A-List

    If her alter ego Issa Dee is still figuring out life, the creator of HBO's Insecure has firmly established her own Hollywood path. An advocate for emerging talent, Rae, 34, started her own production company ColorCreative, launched Robin Thede's A Black Lady Sketch Show (HBO) and next stars in two films: The Photograph with Lakeith Stanfield and rom-com The Lovebirds with Kumail Nanjiani.

    Young people in my life are most impressed by "My being the new Google Assistant voice."

    Last book I devoured "The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray."

    2019 project envy "Booksmart."

    My most surprising follower on social media "Chris Evans and Gwyneth Paltrow."

  • Elizabeth Raposo

    CATEGORY The Execs

    Raposo had something to sing about in 2019, thanks to Elton John biopic Rocketman's $195 million box office haul, but now she is all-in on franchises. A post-facelift Sonic the HedgehogA Quiet Place: Part 2, Top Gun: Maverick and Eddie Murphy's Coming 2 America all arrive in 2020, a year that begins with Tom Cruise shooting two Mission: Impossible pics, back to back.

    Daily media diet "NPR, The New York Times and I am truly obsessed with You Must Remember This."

    I'd like to set a meeting with "Regular check-ins with Gloria Steinem would be amazing."

    Last book I devoured "Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow."

    2019 project envy "If I must answer with a non-Paramount movie then I pick Parasite."

  • Shari Redstone

    CATEGORY Execs at the Apex

    Redstone finally has the reins of what was long just a fantasy — a merged Viacom and CBS. The union of National Amusements' crown jewels closed Dec. 4, giving her control over a sprawling portfolio of media assets that now live under one umbrella. No other female executive can boast a comparable footprint. Still, Redstone needs to bulk up if she wants to compete with larger rivals. Her new company is valued at about $30 billion, pennies compared with AT&T-WarnerMedia's $255 billion or Netflix's $137 billion. As a result, Wall Street remains apathetic toward her power play. Redstone, flanked by company talent Stephen Colbert, Gayle King and someone in a SpongeBob SquarePants costume, rang the opening bell on the NASDAQ floor Dec. 5 in celebration of the new company's first day of trading, when shares closed up a hair at $40.81. As for that market skepticism, Redstone says ViacomCBS has the scale to thrive in the volatile ecosystem: "We have incredible IP," she says. "We spend over $13 billion on content." And ViacomCBS certainly can compete when it comes to TV. The behemoth enjoys a huge slice of the U.S. audience, about 22 percent, compared with Comcast's 18 share. And as TV evolves past advertiser reliance on key demos, Redstone happens to control its most-watched network. CBS wrapped the 2018-19 season with an average 9 million viewers in primetime.

  • Shonda Rhimes

    CATEGORY Creative Forces

    Two years into a landscape-changing Netflix deal, Rhimes is on the cusp of releasing her first streaming fruits. London-set soap Bridgerton is due in 2020, with the rest of a nine-series slate to follow. As for her past life, the showrunner's Grey's Anatomy is still ABC's No. 1 series (and the Big Four's No. 2 drama) in its 16th season.

    Daily media diet "I begin my day with NPR's Morning Edition and The Washington Post. I end my day with The Daily Show With Trevor Noah."

    I'd like to set a meeting with "Beyoncé."

    One thing I can never get to "Every day, I say Im going to meditate. Every day, I decide I'd rather snuggle with my kids instead."

    Last book I devoured "Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow."

    18-year-old me thought by now I'd be a "Novelist."

  • Margot Robbie

    CATEGORY The A-List

    Starring in two of 2019's buzziest films, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Bombshell, Robbie continues to put herself at the center of the zeitgeist. Through her LuckyChap banner, which has a first-look deal with Warner Bros., the star is also supporting female-fronted projects — producing Birds of Prey, thriller Promising Young Woman, Hulu series Dollface, Netflix's Maid and the upcoming Barbie film — in which she'll play the titular doll.

    Daily media diet “I try to read The Skimm every morning and listen to The High Low weekly podcast.”

    One thing I can never get to "The majority of my text messages."

    I'd like to set a meeting with "Wes Anderson."

    2019 project envy "Booksmart."

    Young people in my life are most impressed by "My ability to open a beer bottle with another beer bottle." 

    18-year-old me thought by now I'd be a "Trapeze artist." 

    My greatest indulgence "A 10-hour sleep."

    My most surprising follower on social media "Cristiano Ronaldo."

  • Susan Rovner and Lisa Gregorian

    CATEGORY The Execs

    Promoted in May to oversee the scripted studios (alongside Brett Paul), Rovner inked high-profile pacts with Netflix for Neil Gaiman's The Sandman (studio-owned DC Comics' most expensive show to date) and Apple — where J.J. Abrams set up Julianne Moore vehicle Lisey's Story. For her part, Gregorian sent an orange couch around the U.S. to celebrate the 25th anniversary of enduring Warners cash cow Friends.

    2019 project envy 

    Rovner: "Dead to Me."

  • Jennifer Salke

    CATEGORY Execs at the Apex

    Salke was the subject of much envy in September when she signed Phoebe Waller-Bridge to a three-year deal to develop projects for Amazon's 100 million-plus Prime members. "We had created a real home for her," says Salke of the Fleabag writer and star. "Collaboration can give you a competitive advantage." Fleabag gave Amazon four of its 15 Emmys in 2019, and Waller-Bridge joins a roster that includes Lena Waithe, Westworld's Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy and that $1 billion Lord of the Rings series (production on the latter is imminent, with a 2021 premiere targeted). In film, Salke still is defining her strategy. Amazon spent $47 million on Sundance acquisitions to middling box office returns. So while wide theatrical release remains an option for some (Mindy Kaling's Late Night earned $22 million worldwide), Salke equates success with streams: "Within two weeks, [Late Night] had performed better than any movie that we have on Amazon Prime."

    One thing I can never get to "I wish I could stay awake and energetic enough to take a long evening walk with my three dogs."

    Young people in my life are most impressed by "My multitasking abilities and endless energy for travel."

    My greatest indulgence "I've been on a keto diet for three months, so I would have to say french fries."

  • Ann Sarnoff

    CATEGORY Execs at the Apex

    When Sarnoff stepped onto the Warner Bros. lot in August as the new CEO, she entered a storied studio in massive transition — recently acquired by AT&T, reeling from the resignation of predecessor Kevin Tsujihara amid a sex scandal and readying a streaming service (HBO Max) that will determine the company's fate. "My approach is always to first understand why things are happening the way they are," says Sarnoff, whose arrival fortuitously coincided with Joker's $1 billion box office haul. "Then, envision scenarios of how they might unfold going forward." News of Sarnoff's appointment unfurled with surprise in Hollywood. The Massachusetts native was not on the regular C-suite shortlist, having come to Warners after stints at BBC Studios Americas, Dow Jones Ventures, the WNBA and Nickelodeon. A tidbit in Sarnoff's bio that traveled quickly through the town upon her hiring was the executive's competitive golfing skills. "Everybody has been asking me if I'm going to join a club," says the new L.A. resident. "But so far I've been quite busy."

    Last book I devoured "Becoming by Michelle Obama."

    18-year-old me thought by now I'd be "A creative advertising executive."

  • Lorene Scafaria

    CATEGORY Creative Forces

    The fate of Scafaria's stripper crime drama was unclear just one year ago, after Annapurna dropped the film. But now, after a splashy TIFF bow, STXfilms-distributed Hustlers has passed $100 million at the domestic box office and is garnering awards buzz. "It's been my entire 2019," says Scafaria. "After years in fits and starts, it meant so much to see the movie resonate."

    18-year-old me thought by now I'd be "Doing a lot more Rollerblading."

  • Sarah Schechter

    CATEGORY Creative Forces

    Greg Berlanti's producing partner shares responsibility for their company's borderline-absurd 21 TV series. Since joining the Warner Bros.-based TV house in 2014, Schechter has helped to more than double Berlanti's record volume — with current shows on four broadcast networks and three different streaming services. Priority 2019 pickups include Netflix's The Girls on the Bus, an adaptation of Amy Chozick's Chasing Hillary.

    2019 project envy "Hustlers or Succession. Though truly what I want is an episode of Succession with the characters from Hustlers vacationing with the Roy family and directed by Lorene Scafaria."

    Young people in my life are most impressed by "My knowing the cast of Riverdale."

     

  • Leslie Siebert

    CATEGORY The Reps

    Long shepherding the career of Allison Janney, Siebert set up the Mom actress to star in and produce thriller Lou at Netflix. Gersh's heavy hitter also boasts Mandy Moore, Kyle Chandler and Angela Bassett, who secured an EP credit on the spinoff of her Fox hit 9-1-1.

    18-year-old me thought by now I'd be "More friendly."

  • Michelle Sneed

    CATEGORY The Execs

    With her boss juggling seven (and counting) new series for BET and its streaming service, Sneed is a key figure at Tyler Perry's recently opened 330-acre Atlanta hub — where she oversees more than 60 of the company's 175 employees. BET series The Oval and Sistas, top 10 cable hits, are keeping the lights on at the troubled Viacom net, but Sneed's goal is for Perry originals to blanket the dial year-round: "We're an energetic, young staff."

    2019 project envy "Euphoria — so raw, so real, so nostalgic."

    I'd like to set a meeting with "Oprah."

    My greatest indulgence "Reality TV. All of it."

  • Beatrice Springborn

    CATEGORY The Execs

    Between Ramy, Shrill and PEN15, Springborn ushered in a new era of Hulu comedy in 2019, establishing her streamer as a destination for auteurs. With all three set to return in 2020, the Ohio native is in postproduction on what she hopes will be TV's next obsession — Reese Witherspoon-Kerry Washington vehicle Little Fires Everywhere.

    I'd like to set a meeting with "Greta Thunberg — I'd put her on a pedestal and give her a megaphone."

  • Octavia Spencer

    CATEGORY The A-List

    Helping usher Green Book to a best picture Oscar as an executive producer, Spencer launched her own company with WME's Brian Clisham, signed a three-year pod deal with Disney's 20th Century Fox Television and produced and starred in Blumhouse's $5 million horror hit Ma — which grossed $60 million worldwide. Next up: Spencer has Apple crime series Truth Be Told and Netflix's Madam C.J. Walker.

    Daily media diet "My day is incomplete without Al Roker, Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews."

    Greatest indulgence "Crime procedurals. You name it, I've probably watched countless hours of it."

    Young people in my life are most impressed by "For the extremely young, I always lead with my friendship with Captain America and the Falcon."

    2019 project envy "I'm not one who covets, but let's just say Avengers: Endgame!"

  • Sandra Stern

    CATEGORY The Execs

    Stern's dealmaking prowess continues unabated in the content arms race. She and her team are coming off their best development season yet, with 80 projects on nearly 20 platforms — including NBC, where she has a network priority in midseason musical drama Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist.

    The last book I devoured "A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James."

  • Meryl Streep

     

    CATEGORY The A-List

    Playing a jittery, controlling grandmother in HBO's Big Little Lies, Streep reminded audiences that great acting doesn't necessarily mean falling in love with her characters. It was a rare foray into TV, her first since 2003's Angels in America, for the three-time Oscar winner — whose 2019 film credits include Steven Soderbergh's The Laundromat and Greta Gerwig's Little Women.

  • Cathleen Taff

    CATEGORY The Execs

    Hollywood's sole female distribution chief at a major studio is responsible for the most successful slate in history. In 2019, Taff has seen Disney titles amass more than $10 billion in global box office — and closer to $12 billion when factoring in recent Fox titles — eclipsing the previous industry record (its own $7.6 billion for 2016) all before Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has even seen the light of day.

    One thing I can never get to "Even though I’m a new empty nester, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get to the gym. I also wouldn’t mind sleeping in once in a while!"

    2019 project envy "The Peanut Butter Falcon is everything you want a movie to be and more."

    I've encountered unconscious bias when "I was with a male colleague at an industry event and a circle of men we encountered asked if I was my colleague's 'lovely wife.'"

  • Charlize Theron

    CATEGORY The A-List

    Theron's eerily precise look as Megyn Kelly in Fox News drama Bombshell may be grabbing headlines, but, without Theron's deft producing skills, the movie wouldn't have happened. As it did with Hustlers, original backer Annapurna pulled financing shortly before production — so the Oscar winner and her Denver and Delilah team arranged new funding to keep the project moving.

  • Emma Tillinger Koskoff

    CATEGORY Creative Forces

    After years as Martin Scorsese's go-to producer, including on this year's The Irishman, Koskoff branched out and produced her first film for another director with Todd Phillips' Joker. Wildly different, the pair of features are among the most lauded of 2019 — with Irishman a key part of Netflix's theatrical and awards strategy. "My kids can't believe it," Koskoff says of having the two films out at once. "Every time we're in the car, they're screaming at one of the two movie posters."

    Last book I devoured "Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini."

  • Jenno Topping

    CATEGORY The Execs

    The producer's latest feature, Ford v Ferrari, exceeded expectations with a $30 million opening weekend — a bright spot on an underperforming 20th Century Fox slate that has proved to be a problem for new parent Disney. In TV, Chernin's quiet roster got a boost thanks to Apple's early renewal of sci-fi drama See.

    Last book I devoured "Normal People by Sally Rooney."

    2019 project envy “Parasite and Big Mouth.

    I'd like to set a meeting with "I would have a daily meeting with Andrew Scott.”

  • Nancy Utley

    CATEGORY The C-Suite

    When Disney swallowed Fox, Utley's specialty division survived with its ethos of classy, quirky theatrical offerings intact. "We've tried to concentrate on the work and keep the gossip to the minimum," says Utley of steering through the transition. Kicking off 2019 with a best actress Oscar for The Favourite's Olivia Colman, the studio is backing Jojo Rabbit and A Hidden Life this awards season. Her 2020 slate includes a Force Majeure remake starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell.

    2019 project envy "The Farewell … funny, moving, specific, relatable."

  • Phoebe Waller-Bridge

    CATEGORY The A-List

    The Fleabag creator left the 2019 Emmys with a haul — three, including lead actress and best comedy series — capping a fairy-tale year for the in-demand Brit. That same weekend, she inked a $60 million deal to make more projects for Amazon, since, as she keeps telling people, Fleabag is done. Fortunately for her legion of fans, her next project is in the can. Waller-Bridge did a script polish (think strong female characters and whip-smart dialogue) on April's James Bond pic No Time to Die.

  • Lena Waithe

    CATEGORY The A-List

    With a fresh overall deal at Amazon for her Hillman Grad production company, series at Showtime, BET and HBO, and a starring turn in season three of Westworld, Waithe is poised to be ubiquitous again in 2020. It still seems exciting for the newly married multihyphenate, who capped her year with the premiere of feature screenwriting debut Queen & Slim. "Rihanna was there," says Waithe. "No biggie." But it is her upcoming comedy Twenties, inspired by her own origins, that she’s particularly stoked for. “Everyone who follows me knows how important it is to me and to have a queer black women at the center of a TV show,” she says. “It’s never happened so it’ll be revolutionary when it debuts in February on BET.”

    I'd like to set a meeting with "Debbie Allen. She's had such a profound impact in my life."

    One thing I can never get to "I don’t get to go to the movies in the day anymore. Going to the movies is one of my favorite things to do."

    2019 project envy "Guava Island. I loved that [Donald Glover] treated a short like you would a major studio film. I thought [Rihanna] was really great and it all felt really grounded." 

    Greatest indulgence "Sneakers. And also dessert. I like sweets, cakes, cupcakes, donuts, pies — I’m always gonna get dessert. Like, why wouldn’t I?"

  • Dana Walden

    CATEGORY Execs at the Apex

    Even a cursory look at Walden's empire reveals the entertainment equivalent of the best Monopoly player you've ever met —  but instead of hotels stretching from Mediterranean Avenue to Boardwalk, she oversees 96 series on 15 platforms. One year into the L.A. native's Disney tenure, a role in which she enjoys oversight of multiple networks and studios and some 15,000 executives, producers, craftspeople and performers, Walden still clearly rejects the notion of any kind of plateau. In July, she added Hulu's critically adored originals (see: The Handmaid's Tale and Shrill) to an unrivaled portfolio that includes broadcast's No. 1 drama (20th TV's This Is Us), Emmy winners (Pose and Fosse/Verdon) and overall deals with marquee talent such as Kerry Washington, Octavia Spencer and Liz Meriwether. (Walden also greenlit the No. 1 show on broadcast, The Masked Singer, before leaving Fox.)

    One thing I can never get to "Visiting the sets of our shows. My days are filled with meetings and pitches, and getting away from the office is becoming harder and harder."

    I’ve encountered unconscious bias when “There was a time when certain male showrunners would say, about a perfectly qualified female writer or director, ‘That person does not have the right experience’ — which was almost always a euphemism for, ‘I’d rather hire someone who looks like me.’”

  • Lulu Wang

    CATEGORY Creative Forces

    If getting your own great-aunt and her dog (Ellen) in a hit movie based on your own life isn't a show of power, what is? Beijing-born Wang wrote and directed The Farewell, the critical breakout about her family's decision to lie to their grandmother about her cancer diagnosis. A24 nabbed the project at Sundance for $6 million, and in July, it opened to the best per-theater average of the year. (It's since earned $19.6 million.)

    I'd like to set a meeting with "Fernando Meirelles. I love his films."

    Last book I devoured  " Three Women by Lisa Taddeo."

    My greatest indulgence "I’ve been on the road a lot this year, so to make all these spaces feel more like my own, I travel with my own candle."

  • Kerry Washington

    CATEGORY The A-List

    Barely taking a TV breather after the 2018 end of Scandal, Washington returned to ABC with summer hit Live in Front of a Studio Audience (she produced alongside legend Norman Lear) and collaborated on Hulu's Little Fires Everywhere with Reese Witherspoon. She also spun her dramatic turn in Broadway's American Son into a Netflix movie.

  • Emma Watts

    CATEGORY The Execs

    Riding the success of 2018's Bohemian Rhapsody ($904 million globally), Watts became the exec tapped by Disney to lead the 20th Century Fox film label — where the stakes are high. Ford v Ferrari, now in theaters, is a major win for Watts after a tough year at the box office. She has franchise ambitions for Shawn Levy's Free Guy (July 3, 2020) and is guiding Steven Spielberg's West Side Story and James Cameron's pricey Avatar franchise (its first sequel is due out Dec. 21, 2021).

    Daily media diet "KCRW, How I Built This."

    I'd like to set a meeting with "Taylor Swift."

    2019 project envy "Frozen 2. I would be a hero with my girls."

  • Meg Whitman

    CATEGORY The C-Suite

    Whitman is the woman whom Jeffrey Katzenberg is betting on to turn his mobile video startup into a thriving business. The former HP and eBay CEO was central to Quibi's $1 billion 2018 fundraising since striking deals for $150 million in upfront advertising and luring T-Mobile as the service's official launch distributor. Now it just needs people to pay up when it launches April 6.

    Daily media diet "NPR, Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Google News."

    I'd like to set a meeting with "Angela Merkel."

    My greatest indulgence "Time in Telluride."

  • Olivia Wilde

    CATEGORY The A-List

    With feature directorial debut Booksmart, the critical darling comedy of 2019, Wilde shot to the top of Hollywood's list of in-demand helmers. She passed on multiple TV and feature offers before signing on to direct thriller Don't Worry, Darling and an untitled holiday comedy for Universal, each of which she'll produce alongside partner Katie Silberman.

    One thing I can never get to “Reading the 12 unopened novels on my side table.”

    2019 project envyHoney Boy. Alma Har’el is pure genius.”

    My most surprising follower on social media "Ivanka Trump, unfortunately, though I'm not sure she's reading my thoughts."

  • Oprah Winfrey

    CATEGORY Execs at the Apex

    "Apple is in a billion pockets, y'all" Winfrey says of her decision to partner with the tech giant for a series version of Oprah's Book Club and other efforts. The enlistment of Winfrey, with her 72 million social media followers, as a marquee proselytizer for Apple's $6 billion original content push, is a testament to the mogul and former daytime host's enduring media prowess and unrivaled sense of the zeitgeist. One of her first Apple projects is a documentary about mental health with Prince Harry, and Michelle Obama and Lady Gaga are just two of the bold-faced names set to appear during her nine-city wellness tour (kicking off Jan. 4). As for her day job, cable success OWN added another critical darling (the Michael B. Jordan-produced David Makes Man) to its originals roster in 2019, while the network preps the next project from Queen Sugar creator (and Winfrey pal) Ava DuVernay in 2020. Elsewhere, Winfrey's SuperSoul Conversations podcast has notched 235 million downloads worldwide.

    Daily media diet "Watch Gayle [King] on CBS This Morning and the Apple News feed in the middle of the night."

    2019 project envy "The New York Times' 1619 Project."

  • Jana Winograde

    CATEGORY The Execs

    Winograde started 2019 with a promotion — she now runs programming alongside counterpart Gary Levine — and landed a coup by July. Showtime beat 20 bidders for rights to summer nonfiction best-seller Three Women by Lisa Taddeo. A bigger gamble is long-gestating video game adaptation Halo, which Winograde remains high on after a visit to its top-secret European set. "It is going to be everything we hoped it will be," she says.

    Young people in my life are most impressed by "My playlists. I make them for every occasion."

    My greatest indulgence "The contents of my closet."

  • Reese Witherspoon

    CATEGORY Execs at the Apex

    Witherspoon, 43, has channeled her fury into a bona fide empire for and about women. Born from frustration — "of people thinking you're something that you're not," she says, "or incapable of something you are" — her 3-year-old company, Hello Sunshine, now has tentacles in television, film, podcasts and publishing, with an online book club poised to one day rival Oprah's. The 50-person outfit may not bear Witherspoon's name, but she is the throughline of its every book selection, web series and TV foray: an ultra-successful mom of three who still wakes up every day feeling like she has something to prove.

    "She's one of the most determined people I know," says Jennifer Aniston, who co-stars with Witherspoon on Apple TV+'s The Morning Show. "She knew what she was up against and she never put that sword down. She had a message and stories to tell and she was just like, 'Uh-uh, you can't tell me no and you can't pat me on the head and say, oh, aren't you cute.' "

    At this point, Hollywood wouldn't dare underestimate her — and of late, it hasn't. On the TV side alone, Witherspoon has series set up at Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and HBO, and for nearly every one, she's hands-on from pitch to post. The shows with her onscreen all but guarantee heated bidding wars, along with lavish production budgets wherever they land. In November, Apple launched its entire Apple TV+ content play on Aniston's and Witherspoon's shoulders, paying the women a reported $2 million per episode each for their contributions.

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  • Susan Wojcicki

    CATEGORY The C-Suite

    Wojcicki has called her work on YouTube over the past year "some of the most important" of her career, battling the proliferation of fake news and extreme and exploitative uploads. Growing on the service is what Wojcicki calls "an incredible library" of historical and education programming. With more than 2 billion logged-in users, YouTube remains the largest video streaming platform in the world — and, under Wojcicki's watch, its value has grown to an estimated $300 billion. 

    One thing I can never get to "Organizing my personal photos." 

    Last book I devoured "Educated [by Tara Westover]. And now I'm reading Sapiens [by Yuval Noah Harari]."

    Young people in my life are most impressed by "The fact that I've met their favorite YouTube creators in real life."

  • Constance Wu

    CATEGORY The A-List

    The two movies Wu has toplined since 2018, Crazy Rich Asians and Hustlers, have collectively grossed $389 million. In May, her public displeasure over the renewal of her ABC comedy, Fresh Off the Boat, recast the actress as a bit of a diva — although she later apologized for her outburst. Wu tells THR that power to her still means "a commitment to your artistic purpose that is swayed by neither money nor public opinion."

    I'd like to set a meeting with "Marielle Heller or Gina Prince-Bythewood."

    Last book I devoured "The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai."

    2019 project envy "Parasite was incredible."

    My greatest indulgence "Expensive musical instruments. I love vintage guitars and just bought a Steinway grand piano."

  • Zendaya

    CATEGORY The A-List

    Racy HBO gamble Euphoria proved a win for its young star. Zendaya had both a buzzy summer TV hit and one of its biggest features — Spider-Man: Far From Home, which netted $1.13 billion globally. The actress also has become a major force in fashion, recently collaborating with Tommy Hilfiger on a fall collection ahead of a starring turn in Denis Villeneuve's upcoming Dune adaptation.

    Daily media diet "Currently it's Succession and your general murder podcasts."

    One thing I can never get to "Sleep." 

    I'd like to set a meeting with "Melina Matsoukas." 

    Young people in my life are most impressed by "My little nieces and nephews truly don’t care. I don’t get some kind of cool pass with them."

    18-year-old me thought by now I'd be a "18-year-old me wasn't that long ago."