The Hollywood Reporter's 2016 Women in Entertainment Power 100

6:00 AM 12/7/2016

by THR staff

THR's annual roster of Hollywood's female heavy hitters adds 26 new names as the industry keeps churning — and the question of the glass ceiling suddenly comes roaring back.

WIE Power 100 - Dana Walden and Jennifer Salke -Photographed by Coral von Zumwalt - H 2016
Photographed by Coral von Zumwalt

This year's Power 100 spotlights 14 dynamos who dominated the 2016 entertainment and media landscape — the Head of the Class, including Fox TV Group chairman and CEO Dana Walden, Viacom and CBS board vice chair Shari Redstone, and ABC entertainment president Channing Dungey. Eighty-six more leaders are categorized (even as disruptions in the industry continue to upend the old categories) by their primary role in the Hollywood ecosystem — Film Forces, Dealmakers, Stars and more. Here, they are presented from Arnold (Bonnie, of DreamWorks Animation) to Zhang (Wei, of Alibaba Pictures) as they share the joys and challenges of working in Hollywood, their power meeting moves and how they think their work will change in the next five years.

Profiles written by Paul Bond, Ashley Cullins, Rebecca Ford, Mia Galuppo, Chris Gardner, Eriq Gardner, Lesley Goldberg, Marisa Guthrie, Gregg KildayBorys Kit, Andy Lewis, Pamela McClintock, Michael O'Connell, Rhonda Richford, Bryn Elise Sandberg, Tatiana Siegel, Kate Stanhope and Rebecca Sun.

  • Bonnie Arnold and Mireille Soria

    Category: The Film Forces

    Arnold, 61, and Soria, 62, led their studio to two big hits this year — Kung Fu Panda 3 ($520 million worldwide) and Trolls ($291 million and counting) — but that wasn't the biggest news at DWA. Getting bought by Comcast's NBCUniversal in a $3.8 billion deal has changed the game, says Soria: "We've gone from a small production company to being owned by a major studio."

    How I make my voice heard in any meeting
    Arnold: “I raise my hand and clear my throat; it does work.”
    Soria: “I think the trick is to try to keep my ego out of it, I feel when I can focus on the matter at hand I’m most effective.”

    The habit that holds me back Soria: “Saying I’m sorry. I catch myself saying sorry for things I didn’t do. It’s not a bad thing to have empathy, but it’s a habit I’m working on breaking.”

  • Gina Balian, Nicole Clemens and Stephanie Gibbons

    Category: The TV Set

    Responsible for developing the network's slate of originals, Clemens — who on Dec. 6 revealed she is leaving FX for Anonymous Content — has ushered in a new era of comedy with Donald Glover's Atlanta, Pamela Adlon's Better Things and Zach Galifianakis' Baskets. She's also developing John Singleton's Snowfall, about the crack cocaine epidemic in 1980s Los Angeles. Balian, 42, was instrumental in developing The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, the net's most successful series, averaging 13.2 million viewers across multiple platforms and winning nine Emmys, including the limited series prize. Gibbons', 56, biggest feat: whipping up a robust campaign for a season of American Horror Story shrouded in mystery.

    The habit that holds me back
    Balian: "The news app on my iPad. I waste a lot of time reading random food sections of local newspapers when I should be reading a script."

    What I did the morning after the election
    Clemons: "We talked to our kids about democracy and trying to have an open mind."

    First thing I do when I wake up in the morning
    Gibbons: "Take my cat off my head. That's where she sleeps."

  • Sarah Barnett

    Category: The TV Set

    Tatiana Maslany's Emmy win was a feather in the cap for the AMC Networks-owned cabler led by Barnett, 51, and though BBCA will say goodbye to Orphan Black next year, the channel already has found a new calling card in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, which put the network on track for its biggest year ever in total viewers. In May, BBC America also unveiled a strong development slate, including projects from Amy Poehler and Law & Order: SVU's Neal Baer, while 2017 will see the highly anticipated Planet Earth sequel as well as the Doctor Who spinoff, Class.

    The best thing about Trump's victory "For us all to challenge our cultural comfort bubbles. I need to listen to perspectives I vehemently disagree with. Data is power."

    How my job will change in the next five years "My self-driving car will figure it all out for me."

  • Lorrie Bartlett and Toni Howard

    Category: The Reps

    The duo just landed Orange Is the New Black star Laverne Cox as a client and might well be congratulating client Michael Keaton for his second Oscar nomination in three years (the buzz on The Founder is good). Bartlett, 53, also negotiated Ruth Negga's deal for Loving and helped Anna Gunn transition from Breaking Bad to Equity. Howard, 72, meanwhile, celebrated her 25th year at the agency in February with a martini … at 9 a.m. Then she went back to work repping Samuel L. Jackson, Laura Linney, Edie Falco and Holly Hunter.

    Worst thing about working in Hollywood
    Bartlett: "When you hear, 'Take it or leave it.' "
    Howard: "Losing a client."

    First thing I do when I wake up in the morning
    Bartlett: "Yes, I check my iPhone."
    Howard: "I kiss my husband [producer David Yarnell]."

  • Samantha Bee

    Category: Head of the Class

    One year into hosting her own late-night show, Bee, 47, has emerged as one of the genre's most incisive political satirists since Jon Stewart (her former Daily Show boss) and the voice of female disgruntlement. Full Frontal is averaging 3.3 million viewers per episode across multiple platforms and earned an Emmy writing nomination. TBS has picked up a second season of the weekly show, which will move from Mondays to Wednesdays in January. If Bee — a mother of three with husband Jason Jones — offers a feminist bent, she's also not afraid to call out women, as she did Nov. 9. "A majority of white women [53 percent, according to polls], faced with the choice between the first female president and a vial of weaponized testosterone, said, 'I'll take Option B. I just don't like her.' Hope you got your sticker, ladies. Way to lean out."

  • Kristine Belson

    Category: The Film Forces

    SPA kept a low profile in 2016 — it didn't release a single movie — but that's about to change. Since Belson, 52, took over in 2015, the studio has been ramping up production, completing one feature every 18 months. It's got three big films slated for 2017 — Smurfs: The Lost Village, Emojimovie: Express Yourself and The Star — and has a computer-animated take on Spider-Man from Phil Lord and Chris Miller scheduled for 2018.

    When I feel my work matters least "If I micromanage people! The key to success is surrounding yourself with the best people and then getting out of their way."

    The habit that holds me back “By nature I’m impatient. The good thing about being impatient is getting things done now. The bad thing is it causes you to not always been a good enough listener. If my brain is moving on, I need to stay in the conversation.”

  • Gail Berman

    Category: The Makers

    This industry veteran — who ranks as the only woman to have held the top post at a broadcast network and major film studio — had a record 2016 for her 2-year-old production company. Berman, 60, started the year by reuniting with former Fox exec Joe Early, tapping the well-respected veteran as president of the Jackal Group, and in October saw its long-in-development Rocky Horror Picture Show TV adaptation bow to decent returns on Fox. Now she's busy setting up a diverse development slate with projects at USA, Fox, FX, Lifetime and MTV with producers including Theresa Rebek, Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage as well as Darren Criss.

    How I make my voice heard in any meeting “Come prepared to have a point of view, and then follow through. The real work happens before the meeting begins.”  

    Is there a glass ceiling? "I've got a lot of scars from shattering glass during my career, but there's always another ceiling."

  • Mary Berner

    *New to list

    Category: The Chiefs

    When Berner, 57, was named CEO in October 2015, the radio company had suffered four straight years of ratings declines, its 18-month employee turnover rate was near 50 percent and its stock was in danger of delisting from Nasdaq. After surveying her 6,000 employees, she launched a turnaround effort that included handing over control of content to local programmers. The result: 12 consecutive months of ratings increases. Cumulus owns 447 stations, including KLOS and KABC in Los Angeles and WPLJ in New York, where Berner lives. Its Westwood One segment produces and syndicates shows starring John Tesh and Don Imus, and it has exclusive radio rights to NFL games. Berner's focus now is on ad sales. "Ninety-three percent of Americans listen to radio each week, which makes it the largest medium in the U.S. in terms of reach," she says, "but it's under-appreciated by advertisers."

    Best thing about working in Hollywood “This New Yorker really appreciates the Hollywood sunshine, but the best thing about doing business in Los Angeles is its great talent pool. We own rock station KLOS, where the Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones is among our on-air personalities, and news/talk station KABC, which features Dr. Drew Pinsky, Jillian Barberie and John Phillips. The staffs of both stations include writers, actors and musicians. That’s something you don’t find in other cities.”

    Worst thing about working in Hollywood “Jet lag.”

  • Frances Berwick

    Category: The Chiefs

    The British-born Berwick, a married mother of one son, in February was given oversight of the kids network Sprout. She continues to push Bravo into the scripted space, greenlighting a third series, Imposters, set to bow in 2017 with Uma Thurman guest starring. The enduring popularity of Bad Girls Club has led to the best third quarter ever for and the Oxygen Now App; E! continues to mint docuseries (Mariah's World bowed Dec. 4); and the Kardashian spinoff Rob and Chyna premiered on E! as cable's top unscripted launch of the year among younger viewers and women.

    How my job will change in the next five years "We will likely need a new production model for Keeping Up With the Kardashians to film Kanye in the White House."

  • Beyonce

    Category: The Stars

    She's still a recording artist, sure, but Beyonce's 2016 surprise visual album, Lemonade, deepened her relationship with Hollywood. The HBO effort secured her fourth Emmy nomination and her first as a director. Since relocating from New York to L.A. in 2015, the multihyphenate, 35, also has solidified her status as one of the highest-grossing touring artists.

  • Michelle Bohan, Sharon Jackson and Elyse Scherz

    Category: The Reps

    These three represent a huge swath of talent across Hollywood and beyond. Bohan reps several of this year's best actress hopefuls, including Emma Stone (La La Land), Amy Adams (Arrival) and Rooney Mara (Lion). Jackson negotiated deals for Aziz Ansari (Master of None) and Cara Delevingne (Suicide Squad and Luc Besson's upcoming Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets), while Scherz landed Diego Luna in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and also made deals for Blake Lively and Javier Bardem.

    Best thing about working in Hollywood
    Bohan: “Getting to live vicariously through the artists I have the privilege of working with.”
    Jackson: “The proliferation of holidays.”
    Scherz: “It is my dream.”

    Worst thing about working in Hollywood
    Jackson: “Overzealous security guards at premieres.”
    Scherz: “It was my dream.”

    The habit that holds me back
    Scherz: "I make a habit of not holding myself back. Tenacity has served me well."

  • Cheryl Boone Isaacs and Dawn Hudson

    Category: The Industry Stewards

    After the second straight year of #OscarsSoWhite controversy over the lack of nonwhite acting nominees, these two have made diversifying the Academy a priority, bringing in a record 683 new members. Boone Isaacs, 67, (re-elected to a fourth and final term as president) appointed three new governors to the 51-seat board to ensure inclusivity and at November's Governors Awards announced a new industrywide internship program. Meanwhile, Hudson, 60, who oversees a staff of 300, saw construction finally get underway for the Academy Museum, scheduled to open in 2018, and unveiled a three-year partnership with the L.A. Philharmonic for a series of film-and-orchestra screenings at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

    How I make my voice heard in any meeting
    Boone Isaacs: “The trick is to keep the conversation about the subject at hand.”
    Hudson: “To quote Sen. Claiborne Pell, ‘I always like to let the other fellow have my way.’”

    How my job will change over in next five years 
    Boone Isaacs: "It's hard to say, [but] my world is wide open and adaptable."
    Hudson: "I know better than to predict."

  • Mara Brock Akil

    Category: The Makers

    The creator (with husband and producing partner Sam Akil), 46, of Girlfriends, and BET stalwarts The Game and Being Mary Jane made the move to Warner Bros. TV in a rich overall deal that kicked off in May. The power couple hit the ground running, selling a multicam rom-com to ABC. The Akils also are diving into the action business, teaming with Greg Berlanti on a black superhero drama based on the DC Comic Black Lightning for Fox.

    The habit that holds me back "I discovered TwoDots! It is a time suck, but it immediately relaxes me, so it is the cheapest stress release out there. I have curbed my use to only use the allotted lives and fight the urge to buy more."

    When I feel my work matters most "When I get messages via social media or I meet someone in person who tells me an episode helped them cope, heal or begin a real conversation in their lives for change. Also, I know that the wave of black women and little black girls who are wearing their hair big and natural, Girlfriends had a hand in reflecting and celebrating and projecting that image of black women's beauty."

  • Suzan Bymel

    Category: The Reps

    She helped longtime client Kiefer Sutherland score Designated Survivor, his biggest hit since 24, set up Halle Berry (a new client) in the forthcoming L.A. riots movie Kings and pushed her firm even further into production with the holiday comedy Office Christmas Party. "That was an original idea that the company had, and we put our directors in it," says Bymel, 61, who also reps Anne Hathaway, Michelle Pfeiffer and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

    Is there a glass ceiling? "I have been self-employed since my 20s. The glass ceiling I experience has been the fight to achieve parity for actresses I represent."

    Best thing about working in Hollywood "The opportunity to spend my days collaborating with brilliantly creative people, traveling to amazing places all over the world and the blue crab hand rolls at Sugarfish."

    How my job will change in the next five years "We are excited about creating opportunities for clients in the world of augmented and mixed reality."

  • Gabrielle Carteris

    *New to list

    Category: The Industry Stewards

    The former Beverly Hills, 90210 actress, 55, hasn't slowed down since being elected president of the 160,000-member Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists in April. She lobbied determinedly for AB 1687, a California bill that allows performers to opt out of having their birthdates listed on subscription sites like IMDb — signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in September but now being challenged on constitutional grounds by IMDb. She also heads the negotiating committee that will be meeting with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers about a new contract.

    My first female role model "My mom. She was 4-foot-11, but she saw herself as a giant."

    When I feel my work matters most “When it affects people. Both in acting and in my union work, I hope I am opening minds, making change and helping to create a more equitable world.”

    When I feel my work matters least “The work always matters. The outcome may not always be what I hoped for, but the work always matters.”

  • Jennifer Caserta

    *New to list

    Category: The TV Set

    Thanks in large part to Caserta, 45, IFC has established itself as an off-kilter comedy haven with the acclaimed Documentary Now! and long-running Portlandia. The channel reaffirmed its commitment to the genre in November, when parent company AMC Networks bought a minority stake in Funny or Die, giving Caserta a seat on the board. The net still lures top talent, such as Hank Azaria and Amanda Peet, who star in the upcoming Brockmire, based on the Funny or Die short.

    Best thing about working in Hollywood "Everyone is your friend."

    Worst thing about working in Hollywood "Seeing brilliant shows die. It's heartbreaking."

    Is there a glass ceiling? "Yes, but I'm short so it doesn't hurt as much when I hit it." 

  • Megan Colligan

    Category: The Film Forces

    These are bumpy days at Paramount, with vice chair Rob Moore leaving in September and rumblings of a merger between parent Viacom and CBS. But Colligan, 43, has been riding the waves, making contact with audiences via sci-fi films like Star Trek Beyond ($343 million worldwide) and Arrival ($100 million). The morning after the election, she says, "We changed the Arrival campaign. Our whole campaign was about mystery, and it felt suddenly like a movie promise that wouldn't work. Uncertainty wasn't our friend. People needed to know the movie would be inspiring." Coming up: the comedy Office Christmas Party and two Oscar hopefuls, Denzel Washington's Fences and Martin Scorsese's Silence.

  • Melanie Cook, Linda Lichter, Jeanne Newman and Nina Shaw

    Category: The Dealmakers (Talent Attorneys)

    Cook, 63, is keeping two of TV's favorite antiheroes on the air, having inked new deals for The Blacklist's James Spader and House of Cards' Robin Wright. Lichter, 65, helped client Marc Webb find a home at Amazon for his film The Only Living Boy in New York, a project 20 years in the making. Scores of Gilmore Girls fans were thankful this year for Newman's, 52, work on behalf of client Amy Sherman-Palladino negotiating the series revival at Netflix. Shaw, 62, has been busy with what she describes as "the year of Ava DuVernay." She's also celebrating Marvel's focus on Black Panther. The upcoming film stars one client, Lupita Nyong'o, and a recent series of the comic is written by another, Ta-Nehisi Coates.

    My first female role model
    Cook: "Sherry Lansing."
    Newman: "I worked part-time for Patty Glaser over 30 years ago. She was and is fierce, fearless and kind. I now include in my prayers that my clients are successful enough to afford her to help them when trouble arises."

    The best thing about Trump's victory 
    Newman: "To realize just how much more work needs to be done on behalf of women, people of color and the LGBT community. We cannot rest!"

    First thing I do when I wake up in the morning
    Cook: "Have coffee and exercise. I'm taking boxing and kick boxing lessons. It's a great way to work out frustration."

    When I feel my work matters the most
    Lichter: "When I can perhaps change someone's life by helping them get their dreams made real."

    How my job will change in the next five years
    Lichter: "I think we will all need to be more entrepreneurial and creative in putting projects together for every conceivable media and marketplace."

    How I make my voice heard in any meeting
    Lichter: "I try to say something pithy."

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

    Category: The Reps

    Dakhil, 41, made history this year, sealing Ava DuVernay's deal to direct Disney's A Wrinkle in Time, the first time a woman of color will direct a $100 million film. Queally's, 55, awards-buzzy roster: Queen of Katwe's Lupita Nyong'o, Miss Sloane's Jessica Chastain and Allied's Marion Cotillard, to name a few, while Swofford's director clients include Alejandro G. Inarritu, David Yates and Stephen Daldry. Rosenfeld, meanwhile, keeps CAA the leader in primetime packaging — she sold Queen Sugar to OWN and packaged Empire spinoff Star for Fox — and also guides movie stars venturing onto the small screen (like Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon, who'll star in HBO's Big Little Lies).

    My first female role model
    Dakhil: "My older sister [Hanan Dakhil Ghosheh], who always does the right thing. She's a women's rights activist who works on behalf of Libyan women."

    First thing I do when I wake up in the morning
    Queally: "I take an early morning walk in my neighborhood and check in with clients who are overseas."

    Worst thing about working in Hollywood
    Swofford: "The email never stops and we are expected to be accessible always."

    When I feel my work matters most
    Rosenfeld: "When a client has a passion for a particular project, and I am able to advocate for them and help them see it come to life."

  • Viola Davis

    Category: The Stars

    After her second Emmy nomination (and a 2015 win) for How to Get Away With Murder, Davis, 51, now is in the Oscar conversation with the Denzel Washington-helmed Fences. The two-time Oscar nominee's JuVee Productions in 2016 inked a new two-year overall deal with ABC Studios and sold original single-camera comedy Zippcoders, which follows a group of African-American teen friends who form a rock band in the 1960s. She is also developing and will executive produce the adaptation of Ann Weisgarber’s The Personal History of Rachel DuPree, which she will star in with up-and-comer Quvenzhane Wallis. This summer, Davis starred opposite Will Smith and Margot Robbie in DC/Warner Bros.' Suicide Squad, and it was recently announced that she will topline the Steve McQueen heist thriller Widows.  

  • Ellen DeGeneres

    Category: The Stars

    In addition to the top-rated show in talk, DeGeneres, 58, boasts one of the top box-office blockbusters of the year with Finding Dory ($1 billion globally). She wrapped her eventful year with a major honor: the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

    Is there a glass ceiling? "Yes, in my Porsche."

    Worst thing about working in Hollywood "It’s very hard to get my hands on gluten."

  • Nancy Dubuc

    Category: The Chiefs

    As the TV climate challenges cable more, A+E's massive suite of channels overseen by Dubuc, 48, adapts by building buzz wherever it can. In 2016, History debuted another hot miniseries in its revival of Roots as upstart Viceland (though pulling lower ratings than predecessor H2) brought two key Emmy noms and a much younger audience. Finishing the year on a high note, news of Duck Dynasty's impending demise immediately was followed by the high-profile premiere of Leah Remini's Scientology exposé. The eight-part docuseries debuted Nov. 29 to 2.1 million viewers — a two-year high for an A&E premiere.

    Best thing about working in Hollywood “We're fortunate to be allowed into people's homes every night. It's a privilege and we'd be wise to remember that.”

    Worst thing about working in Hollywood “We've gone awards crazy.” 

  • Channing Dungey

    Category: Head of the Class

    It's a cruel fact of the industry that network chiefs almost never inherit their coveted gigs during boom times. So when Dungey, 47, a well-liked drama exec, assumed her post in the wake of Paul Lee's February ouster, she did so with ABC stuck in fourth place. Not three months into a rebuilding season, Dungey has plenty to feel good about. Her first schedule boasts three top 10 shows and the fall's No. 2 new series: Designated Survivor is averaging a 3.7 rating among adults 18-to-49 and 14.9 million viewers, enjoying bragging rights as broadcast's most time-shifted series. She also immediately has proved to be one of the most decisive network chiefs in town.

    As many competitors still hem and haw about middling freshmen series, Dungey was the first to cut episode orders for subpar performers (Notorious, Conviction). ABC also, for the first time, is not suffering that much for its lack of football as the NFL's diminished ratings have served as a showcase for the stability of entertainment programming. Dungey seems resolved to hold on to as many Shonda Rhimes productions as she can — five Shondaland series will air on ABC in midseason — and to make ABC home to a sprawling roster of unique family comedies in the vein of Modern Family, Black-ish and Speechless. "It's about people feeling that their stories are being told," says Dungey. "Diversity and inclusion, in every respect, are incredibly important to me — and it's going to continue to be a big tenet of the programming that we do." Her ABC may be a work in progress, but Dungey's tenure already is historic: The married mother of one is the first black woman (or, for that matter, black person) to hold the top post at a broadcast network.

    When I feel my work matters most "When I overhear people in line at the store or at an adjacent table in a restaurant talking about a storyline from one of our shows that engaged, entertained or inspired them — particularly if it's a story that made them think about the world in a different way."

    Worst thing about working in Hollywood "Meetings and sets are spread all over town, but there's no quick, effective public transportation to get me from here to there."

    Read more on Dungey here.

  • Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner

    Category: The Stars

    With their HBO dramedy set to end in the spring after its sixth season, partners Dunham, 30, and Konner, 45, have shifted their focus to building their media empire. Among its many parts: twice-weekly newsletter Lenny; a 10-episode podcast, Women of the Hour; and a publishing imprint with Random House.

    How my job will change in the next five years
    "We want to nurture and protect our creative voices while working harder than ever as activists."

    The best thing about Trump's victory
    "We are not interested in celebrating any aspect of his win. We do want to celebrate the activist voices it has galvanized."

  • Ava DuVernay

    Category: Head of the Class

    "My Twitter timeline is in shambles," says DuVernay, 44. It's been a little more than a month since her documentary 13th was released worldwide on Netflix, and for the publicist-turned-filmmaker, the flood of social media feedback is a good thing: It's reflective of the passionate response to her film about race and the criminal-justice system. "It's been completely stunning," says the director, who debuted the project at the New York Film Festival in September (where it was the first-ever doc opener). "People are really feeling like their eyes have been opened to something that's been sitting right in front of them for a very long time."

    In the past year, the Selma director has continued building an empire that includes a hit TV show and a Disney $100 million film. In September, DuVernay's Louisiana-set family drama Queen Sugar, which features an all-female director roster, began airing on OWN, with its two-night debut averaging 2.42 million viewers, to become the second-best premiere ever for the network. (The show was renewed for a second season ahead of the premiere.) And DuVernay is one month into shooting A Wrinkle in Time, an adaptation of Madeleine L'Engle's novel about children who travel through time and the universe on a search for their missing father. Starring Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Zach Galifianakis, Chris Pine, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mindy Kaling and newcomer Storm Reid, the film is slated to hit theaters April 6, 2018. "It was a really intense year with a lot of personal challenges," says DuVernay, who is shooting Wrinkle in Los Angeles before heading to New Zealand. "The intense personal time fueled an intense professional time in a way that I'm grateful for because it helped me to stay sane."

    Best thing about working in Hollywood “Being able to truly reach a significant audience. I’ve worked outside of Hollywood and you can make something beautiful and the reach is limited. Working within the Hollywood system allows the stories that we tell be amplified.”

    Worst thing about working in Hollywood “The prominent point of view is not my point of view, and so often when I’m working, it’s about being selective about the people and companies that I work with. I’m in a happy place with that right now, but it hasn’t always been that way.” 

  • Megan Ellison

    Category: The Makers

    In the second half of the year, Ellison, 30, and her Annapurna banner went on a hiring spree, grabbing 20th Century Fox marketing president Marc Weinstock, one-time HBO president Sue Naegle, former Weinstein Co. distribution chief Erik Lomis and Sony games execs. The press-shy producer and financier isn't revealing plans, but speculation points to Ellison expanding her company into a major content player on all platforms; just last week, Annapurna announced the launch of an interactive games division. But she hasn't abandoned her core objective — supporting filmmaker-driven material — and recently wrapped Kathryn Bigelow's latest, a Detroit race drama; is in post on Alexander Payne's Downsizing; and is in preproduction on Paul Thomas Anderson's newest film. Among the movies she has released this year are awards hopeful 20th Century Women and the R-rated animated hit Sausage Party.

  • Tina Fey

    Category: The Stars

    Now a bona fide comedy icon, with nine Emmys of her own and many more to her credit for her seven-season NBC show 30 Rock, 46-year-old Fey's successful run continues behind the camera as producer of such hits as Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and the upcoming NBC comedy Great News.

    Read Fey's full profile here.

  • Elizabeth Gabler

    Category: The Film Forces

    Gabler's, 60, spies-next-door comedy Keeping Up With the Joneses misfired ($27 million worldwide), but 2016 could close out on a high note, with Hidden Figures coming Christmas Day. Based on the real-life story of a team of African-American female mathematicians (Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, etc.) who helped NASA get a man to the moon, it's one of the most eagerly awaited films of the awards season.

    Best thing about working in Hollywood “The wonderful people you get to collaborate with from all walks of life.”

    Worst thing about working in Hollywood “The hype.”

  • Dede Gardner

    Category: The Makers

    No other star-driven production company rivals the awards-season prowess of Brad Pitt's Plan B. And much of the credit belongs to Gardner, 49, who produced 2014's best picture 12 Years a Slave, last year's best picture contender The Big Short ($133 million worldwide and five nominations) and this year's Moonlight, which quietly is building momentum in the 2017 race. Also coming up in 2017: David Michod's satire War Machine (starring Pitt as Gen. Stanley McChrystal) and Joon-ho Bong's Snowpiercer follow-up Okja — both for Netflix. On the cable front, she's executive producing the HBO limited series Lewis and Clark, scheduled to bow in 2018, with Casey Affleck and Matthias Schoenaerts as the titular explorers.

  • Patty Glaser

    Category: The Dealmakers

    Early in her career, Glaser, 69, was inspired by late federal judge Mariana Pfaelzer, who then was a name partner at her firm in a field that's still largely dominated by men. "I joke that she scared the bejesus out of a whole generation of guys and by the time I came around, they were used to working with women," says Glaser. Now a top litigator herself, Glaser represents Conan O'Brien, Olympics star Shaun White and Chris Brown's ex-manager Mike G. The self-described theater buff recently settled a suit ensuring Hell's Kitchen non-profit Ars Nova gets proper credit on the Broadway playbill of Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812. Some of Glaser's biggest victories never make the news — and that's by design. "In Hollywood, the view of 'all publicity is good publicity' isn't true with a lawsuit," she says.

    Worst thing about working in Hollywood "Hidden agendas."

    The best thing about Trump's victory "I do not think he is an ideologue and, hopefully, will bring new approaches to addressing the increasing homeless population, the public pension crisis, our abysmal infrastructure and threats to our national security. I am hopeful he can be empathetic."

    First thing I do when I wake up in the morning "I hug my husband."

  • Bonnie Hammer

    Category: Head of the Class

    Despite the fact that "linear television is changing right in front of us," as she puts it, Hammer's 10 networks (including USA, Bravo and E!) and two studios (Universal Cable Productions and Wilshire Studios) once again will post gains, contributing more to the NBCUniversal bottom line than any other division. It's the 13th straight year of growth for Hammer's portfolio — in 2015, profit was a healthy $2.8 billion on revenue of $5.7 billion — which includes a staggering 137 original series (including awards magnet Mr. Robot on USA and new reality hit Rob and Chyna on E!) with an estimated 113.5 million viewers a week on average. "We're very lucky," says Hammer, 66, who remains the woman overseeing the biggest empire in Hollywood. "In spite of all the insanity, we're still going to have significant plus signs."

    Throughout her 27-year tenure — she reports directly to CEO Steve Burke and manages 2,000 employees with about a dozen direct reports — Hammer always has met challenges head on. In February, she undertook a major streamlining of her portfolio, elevating ex-Syfy chief Dave Howe to a new position in which he partners with Hammer on forward-thinking strategy, and centralizing scripted content under NBCU vet Bill McGoldrick. "The name of the game is creative content that can work [on linear and digital]," she says. "Or if you're lucky, both, and owning it so you can make deals with your frenemies — like Netflix and Amazon Prime — and run it how you want, where you want, when you want, with no strings attached." 

    My first female role model "When I was 9 years old at summer camp, there was a counselor, her name was Marsha, and she was probably 18 or 19. She was absolutely my first very positive, badass older female role model. She broke all the rules in a good way. She taught us how to break the dumb rules, but also how to be a good sport. She taught us how to go up to somebody with a sense of humor and congratulate them when they just beat the shit out of you on the tennis court."

    How I make my voice heard in any meeting "Learning how to read a room, learning how to listen and then only speaking up when it’s important. Having the loudest voice in the room doesn’t always work. In fact, it usually grates to the point that when you really need to be loud, nobody listens. I think reading a room, reading the personalities, reading body language, is kind of a lost art."

  • Kimberley Harris, Gwen Marcus, Rebecca Prentice, Rita Tuzon and Leah Weil

    Category: The Dealmakers (General Counsels)

    Standing up for rights is literally what these women do on a daily basis. Often, that means dealmaking: Harris, 46, helped NBCUniversal complete its acquisition of DreamWorks Animation in four months, while Tuzon, 57, executed carriage agreements with various cable and satellite operators. And sometimes it means going to court: Weil continues to deal with legal fallout from a corporate hack, while Marcus, 60, oversees a Showtime lawsuit against Charter over post-merger license fees. And while she likely was involved on some level in the tug-of-war for Sumner Redstone's Viacom, her studio's parent, Prentice, 63, kept a low profile throughout the year as the boardroom and court battles raged.

    Best thing about working in Hollywood
    Harris: “I can claim it’s part of my job to watch TV and movies and visit theme parks.”

    When my work matters most
    Marcus: “I am very proud of my contributions in the diversity and inclusion space, focusing not only on the legal profession, but for our society generally, having been closely involved in our parent company CBS Corp.’s decision to sign several employer ‘friend of the court’ briefs in the Supreme Court supporting marriage equality and affirmative action in higher education.”

    How I make my voice heard in any meeting
    Prentice: “I listen and then focus on how we can help achieve the business goal.”
    Weil: “‘Speak softly and carry a big stick,’ as the saying goes. I believe it’s always important to speak from a position of authority and in a calm, non-defensive manner.”Is there a glass ceiling?

    Tuzon: “There isn't a glass ceiling for me personally but it is glaringly apparent that the glass ceiling remains intact in our industry and our nation. And it needs a big ol' stiletto right through it.”

  • Janet Healy

    *New to list

    Category: The Film Forces

    Though she decamped from Los Angeles to Paris a decade ago, Healy, 66, remains a heavyweight as a longtime producer with Illumination Entertainment. Chris Meledandri's animation studio has been on a decadelong winning streak, starting with 2007's Despicable Me through the summer with The Secret Life of Pets, which scored a record $104 million domestic opening. Next up: Sing, out Dec. 21.

    My first female role model “When I was in my 20s I worked with Julia Phillips during the strenuous location shooting of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. She was very kind and supportive, and she showed me that a woman could be a celebrated, focused, effective and passionate producer of a film and a great advocate for the vision of its director.”  

    How I make my voice heard in any meeting “The best way to have one's voice heard in a meeting is to be the person in charge. It always helps to be informed, well prepared, experienced, attentive to any problems, to listen well and then be solution-oriented. I tend to mediate between colleagues and to have a meeting finish with clear, actionable items that have deadlines.”

  • Cindy Holland

    Category: Head of the Class

    The surprise January launch of Netflix in more than 130 countries means that the dozens of series Holland, 47, greenlights each year now can be viewed worldwide. The expansion comes as the leader in streaming TV plans to up its annual programming budget, a large portion of which Holland oversees, to $6 billion. That will give the Nebraska native and career Netflix exec — she's been with the company since 2002 — even more power to order such projects as the ambitious British royal drama The Crown (said to have cost $100 million to make), bring back beloved properties as she did with Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life and take chances on young filmmakers like the brothers behind Stranger Things.

    Lisa Nishimura's documentary and comedy specials team, which launched Making a Murderer in 2015, also reports to Holland, whose influence has grown as steadily as Netflix's global audience — now nearly 87 million, up 25 percent since 2015. That quantity comes with quality: 54 Emmy nominations for Netflix this year and nine wins, placing it third behind HBO and FX.

    My first female role model "Miss Humphrey, my second grade teacher. My first national role models were Geraldine Ferraro [the first female vice presidential candidate representing a major political party] and [Texas Gov.] Ann Richards."

    When I feel my work matters most "When members tell me how much our programming means, and when it moves the needle on issues."

    When I feel my work matters least "When someone says, 'Don't worry your little head.'"

  • Julie Huntsinger

    *New to list

    Category: The Industry Stewards

    Working alongside Tom Luddy, she curates the list of two dozen or so films that draw more than 6,000 film cognoscenti to the Colorado mountain town each Labor Day weekend — and largely sets the agenda for the winter awards season, with such favorites as La La Land, Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight screening this year. Moonlight's debut was particularly gratifying for Huntsinger since she regards writer-director Barry Jenkins, who has been coming to Telluride since 2002, as family. "It was the most satisfying moment of my whole career," she says.

    Best thing about working in Hollywood “The idea that anything is possible.”

    Worst thing about working in Hollywood “How much the idea that anything is possible costs.” 

    When I feel my work matters most “On Labor Day weekend when we see and hear the excitement in our audience.”

    When I feel my work matters least “One week later!”

    The habit that holds me back "Women humblebrag or tear themselves apart too much as it is! Let's say I'm working on all my habits."

  • Gale Anne Hurd

    Category: The Makers

    Hurd's, 61, TV's reigning zombie queen, executive producing not just The Walking Dead (the No. 1 show among 18-to-49-year-olds) but also its spinoff, Fear the Walking Dead. This year, she made telefilms for Syfy (Hunters), USA (Falling Water) and soon will have one on Amazon (Lore, which she'll be co-producing with Ben Silverman and Howard T. Owens' Propgate).

    Is there a glass ceiling? "I am still paid less than men with comparable levels of achievement, which is a ceiling of sorts."

  • Pearlena Igbokwe

    *New to list

    Category: The TV Set

    After a successful run as head of drama for NBC, where she developed hits The Blacklist, Blindspot and critical darling This Is Us, Igbokwe, 52, became the first African-American woman to lead a major television studio. As president of Universal TV, Igbokwe oversees more than 24 series airing on broadcast, cable and streaming platforms. Next up are twice-developed Wizard of Oz drama Emerald City, a TV sequel of Taken and Netflix's upcoming Naomi Watts starrer Gypsy.

    How I make my voice heard in any meeting “Opening my mouth usually does the trick.”

    How my job will change in five years "Five years? I think about how my job will change next year!"


  • Tracey Jacobs, Blair Kohan and Rena Ronson

    Category: The Reps

    Jacobs, 58, hit a bump this year — losing client Johnny Depp — but picked up Taraji P. Henson and Finding Dory director Andrew Stanton. She also negotiated Benedict Cumberbatch's contract for Doctor Strange. Kohan, 48, set up Sausage Party for clients Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg and recently signed James Franco. Ronson helped set up financing for Hidden Figures at Fox 2000 and packaged Judd Apatow's The Big Sick.

    First thing I do when I wake up in the morning
    Jacobs: "Kiss my dogs."

    How my job will change in the next five years
    Kohan: "Unpredictably as it always has, which makes it both the best and worst thing about working in Hollywood."

    My reaction to the U.S. election
    Ronson: "That we live in a bigger bubble than I thought."

  • Nina Jacobson

    Category: The Makers

    After the Hunger Games franchise wrapped (grossing $1.4 billion), Jacobson, 50, moved to conquer TV. Her first foray onto the small screen was Ryan Murphy's smash hit on FX, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, which dominated the Emmys with a whopping 22 awards. She since has renewed her overall deal with FX, where she'll be working on two more seasons of Murphy's anthology series (Katrina, followed by Versace). On the big screen, she's producing Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, John Crowley's The Goldfinch, Crazy Rich Asians and a Patty Hearst movie by People v. O.J. scribes Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski.

    Worst thing about working in Hollywood "When things are going well as a producer, you spend less time with your family. If things are going great, you're gone that much more. That paradox is tough."

    When I feel my work matters most "When I challenge the status quo."

    The habit that holds me back "Restlessness. Sometimes it's hard for me to not get fidgety or not want to check my phone or word game status."

  • The Kardashians and Jenners

    Category: The Stars

    Keeping Up With the Kardashians recently wrapped season 12, holding steady as E!'s highest-rated show. Despite recent events (Kim Kardashian was robbed in Paris in October, while her husband, Kanye West, was hospitalized on a psychiatric hold in November), the network insists that production is underway for another season. That's good news for the family as their ancillary businesses explode from the already lucrative TV well. New this year: Rob & Chyna starring Rob Kardashian and fiancé Blac Chyna; the upcoming Revenge Body toplined by Khloe Kardashian; Kendall Jenner was just inaugurated into Victoria's Secret supermodel club; Lip Kit queen Kylie Jenner's cosmetics business is booming and she recently announced an apparel line with forthcoming The Kylie Shop. 

    My first female role model
    Kris Jenner: "My mother — the epitome of elegance and grace."

    Is there a glass ceiling?
    Kris Jenner: "Absolutely not. And I've always told my children, there is no such thing as a glass ceiling. There are no limits to what you can accomplish, and you should never feel discouraged as a woman or as a minority to achieve the things you want in life. You control your destiny, no one else."

    When I feel my work matters most 
    Kris Jenner: "Every time one of my kids achieves something they've set their heart on, that's when my work matters most. There are often times when my advice as a mother and as a manager overlaps because I'm constantly thinking about what's best for my kids. Being a mother and a manager means that my children's successes are that much more rewarding. I witness their work ethic and see how accomplished they all are and it makes me proud to be their mother, and also proud to have been a part of that success as a manager."

    When I feel my work matters least
    Kris Jenner: "I think the work I do always matters because what I do is for the benefit of my family, but of course there are times when work comes second, because family comes first. I am blessed that my work involves working with my entire family, but of course sometimes you have to take a step back when there's something personal or important outside of the business that needs your time and attention."

  • Megyn Kelly

    Category: Head of the Class

    Kelly, 46, has taken on two of the most powerful, ruthless men in politics and media and lived to tell the tale. First, she focused the nation's attention on Donald Trump's history of sexism during the first Republican debate back in the summer of 2015 — and weathered an ugly and sustained assault from the then-candidate and his surrogates. "There were real threats against my family and me," says Kelly, a married mother of three young children. "But it wasn't just me, and I don't know that Trump ever did appreciate what he could stir up. And frankly, I don't know that he ever cared." Then it was Roger Ailes, the creator of Fox News, friend-of-Donald and Republican kingmaker, who was forced out in the summer amid an investigation into widespread sexual harassment allegations. Days after it was leaked that Kelly had shared her own tale of being harassed by Ailes when she was a first-year Fox News correspondent, he was gone.

    Now Kelly has become integral to 21st Century Fox executives James and Lachlan Murdoch's strategy for the network — one that includes attracting younger viewers — and they've reportedly offered her $20 million annually to stay. Kelly's show was the top-rated cable news program for the third quarter in the 25-to-54 demo. And it also finished October — Fox News' most-watched month in primetime since October 2012 — as the No. 1 program in the demo, delivering 641,000 viewers (up 71 percent year-over-year) and nearly 3 million total viewers (up 34 percent). Of the election that sent her fame into the stratosphere, Kelly says: "We thought that women have come a lot further than they in fact have. And whether you like Hillary Clinton or not, the fact that she became the first female nominee of a major party was a great barrier for women to cross. We've come a long way, baby, but boy do we have a long way to go."

    When I feel my work matters most "Every night. On each show, we have the responsibility of informing people of the news that affects their lives and holding leaders to account for their misrepresentations, misdeeds and broken promises — which keeps us very busy."

    How I make my voice heard in any meeting "I am never afraid to speak up, but if I get interrupted repeatedly I will hold up my hand and say, 'I'm still speaking.' You would not believe how well that simple move works."

  • Kathleen Kennedy

    Category: Head of the Class

    The Kennedy administration is officially a hit: Star Wars: The Force Awakens earned $2.07 billion worldwide, and its record-shattering $936.7 million domestic haul made it the U.S.' highest-grossing film of all time. And Rogue One, the franchise's first standalone, is tracking to open to more than $130 million upon its Dec. 16 release, notching the second-highest presales day ever (behind — what else? — The Force Awakens). Anticipation for the movie has been somewhat tempered by talk of extensive reshoots, but Kennedy, 63, (a mother of two with producer husband Frank Marshall) says her proudest accomplishment from this year was "watching so many people inside this company pull together and focus around excellence."

    The staff is as diversified as the company's businesses, which in addition to movies (at least four other Star Wars films are in various stages of development) include animation, games, merchandising, visual effects and sound design. "What's exciting about being in the Star Wars universe is we're in an environment where we can take risks," Kennedy says. "We should be taking the blockbuster movie in a direction where it's more inclusive of a much broader audience."

    Best thing about working in Hollywood "The constant use of your imagination. I love working in my head."

    When I feel my work matters most "When it really affects people. I can't wait to sit and watch not so much the movie, but the audience."

    How my job will change in the next five years "I don't want to know. I like the unknown."

    Read more on Kennedy and Lucasfilm here.

  • Paula Kerger

    Category: The Chiefs

    Not only will 2017 be the first year after the zeitgeist era of Downton Abbey, but PBS, which saw boosted returns for news, convention and debate coverage during the election cycle, also likely will be on the defense under a Trump administration — as it has been before with cost-cutting GOP presidents. (Kerger, 58, noted at an event in early 2016 that 15 percent of PBS funding comes from the federal government.) On the scripted front, drama Mercy Street, PBS' first original in more than a decade, averaged nearly 6 million viewers.

    How my job will change in the next five years "As we grapple with understanding what it means to be Americans, I believe PBS will play a critical role with our national reach and deep local presence in every community in this country."

    How I make my voice heard in any meeting “Fred Rogers had a wonderful trick. He would speak lower than most, causing people to lean in and listen more carefully.  It doesn’t always work, but it is sometimes incredibly effective.”

  • Aleen Keshishian

    Category: The Reps

    This year, when Keshishian, 48, left Brillstein Entertainment, where she'd been a longtime partner, to form her own company, a line of loyal clients followed along with her — Jennifer Aniston, Mark Ruffalo, Jason Bateman, Paul Rudd and Gwyneth Paltrow. She's especially adept at handling mulithyphenates like client Selena Gomez, who had a sold-out tour and a huge ad campaign for Coca-Cola. 

    What has been the hardest part about starting Lighthouse this past year? "Leaving friends at my old company. The rest was easier than I expected."

    How my job will change in the next five years "It already has. My colleagues and I are working with leaders in Silicon Valley, Asia, digital media, the music industry, branding and licensing, as well as new distribution and financing entities. Most clients are multihyphenates who are musicians, writers, directors and producers as well as actors. As a talent representative, you can't just be an expert in one field anymore." 

    My first female role model "My mother, an Armenian immigrant who speaks five languages and can make the impossible happen."

  • Debbee Klein

    Category: The Reps

    Klein, 53, heads up a department that set up the summer's most talked-about show, negotiating the Duffer brothers' Stranger Things deal with Netflix (and then sold the streamer on Maniac). Her team also got Designated Survivor on ABC, You, Me and Her on DirecTV and MacGyver on CBS. She also beat out every other agency to sign ballerina Misty Copeland (expect a memoir, a movie and a new film career from the dancer).

    Best thing about working in Hollywood “You can take somebody who is brand new who you believe in as an artist and make them a superstar in a very short period of time.”

    Worst thing about working in Hollywood “When you put all the time and energy into a client and get them their dream job and for whatever reason they choose to leave.”

    When I feel my work matters least “When my advice falls on deaf ears.”

    The habit that holds me back "I can jump to conclusions too quickly. I try to take a pause before I assume."

  • Jenji Kohan

    Category: The Makers

    Netflix has $6 billion to spend on new original content, but it hasn't made any show with the same staying power as one of its first original series: Orange Is the New Black, which in February won a rare three-season pickup that will take it through at least season seven. As part of the deal, Kohan, 47, will remain showrunner for the next three years, but she's not confining herself to the prison genre. She also is exec producing a 1980s-set comedy about female wrestlers — G.L.O.W. — which got a straight-to-series order from Netflix in May. Alison Brie will star.

    The best thing about Trump's victory "There's a lot of freedom in being the opposition and not the establishment."

    How my job will change in the next five years "I might retire."

  • Sue Kroll

    Category: The Film Forces

    She must be a marketing genius, because Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice didn't earn $873 million based on its reviews (likewise Suicide Squad's $746 million). Her campaign for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them also has earned praise (and helped net the film $607.5 million worldwide through Dec. 5), while her next projects include Ben Affleck's awards-season latecomer Live by Night and 2017's Kong: Skull Island and Wonder Woman. "She is an artist pure and simple,” said Bradley Cooper when Kroll, 55, received the American Cinematheque’s 2nd annual Sid Grauman award in mid-October for her contributions to the motion picture industry.

    How I make my voice heard in any meeting “Trying to say something thoughtful and smart."

    The habit that holds me back "I wish I was a better networker. I always put the job first, but I think I should be out there meeting interesting people from all walks of life."

  • Veronika Kwan Vandenberg

    Category: The Film Forces

    After briefly heading up Warners' domestic distribution, Vandenberg, 53, is back to just running the studio's international beat — and has been having a pretty amazing time at it. Batman v. Superman grossed $538 million overseas, while Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has been doing gangbusters in Asia (it opened to $40 million in China). Even an all-American tale like Sully has performed surprisingly well outside the U.S., earning half of its $124.4 million overseas.

    Best thing about working in Hollywood “Movies, sunshine, living the dream.”

    Worst thing about working in Hollywood “Egos and bad manners.” ?

    The habit that holds me back "I'm an extremely disorganized packer."


  • Lady Gaga

    Category: The Stars

    The fact that Lady Gaga, 30, scored her fourth No. 1 album in 2016 is not terribly eventful — that it came just nine months after she won a Golden Globe, for her role in American Horror Story: Hotel, made it a banner year.

  • Donna Langley

    Category: The Chiefs

    After a record-setting 2015, when its diverse slate delivered an industry-best $6.9 billion in global ticket sales, Universal has had a mixed 2016. Its top earners are Illumination Entertainment's The Secret Life of Pets with $874 million and Jason Bourne with $415.2 million (and hopes are high for Sing, which opens Dec. 21). Duds included Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising and The Huntsman: Winter's War. Langley, 48, a married mom of two, reshaped specialty division Focus Features in 2016 and is overseeing NBCUniversal acquisition DreamWorks Animation. Next year will be key for her legacy as she launches the Monsters Universe on June 9 with The Mummy, starring Tom Cruise. Other high-profile 2017 titles include Fifty Shades Darker (Feb. 10) and Fast 8 (April 14).

    How I make my voice heard in any meeting “No tricks, just a firm believer in doing the work.”

  • Jennifer Lawrence

    Category: Head of the Class

    Lawrence, 26, who has been an outspoken warrior against the gender pay gap, earned a huge $20 million paycheck for her latest film, the sci-fi romance Passengers (out Dec. 21) opposite Chris Pratt, cementing herself as the highest-paid actress working today. "We can ask for the same exact thing that men do, and we do face the reality that we do get judged more," she has said of the industry double standard. "It's just something that's intrinsic. I would love to see change." The in-demand Hunger Games star, who also is the youngest actress to earn four Oscar nominations (she's won one), already has filmed Darren Aronofsky's next movie about a couple whose relationship is tested by uninvited guests. She's attached to a slew of high-profile projects, including Adam McKay's Bad Blood, about controversial Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes; Francis Lawrence's spy thriller Red Sparrow; and Steven Spielberg's It's What I Do, based on the memoir by war photographer Lynsey Addario.

    Including the Hunger Games and X-Men franchises, Lawrence's films have earned north of $5.3 billion worldwide. In 2015, she launched the Jennifer Lawrence Foundation, which supports various charities including the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the Special Olympics, and, after Donald Trump won the presidential election, she penned a passionate letter (for Vice's woman-centered Broadly channel) to those disappointed by the results: "Do not let this defeat you — let this enrage you! Let it motivate you! Let this be the fire you didn't have before."

  • Debra Lee

    Category: The Chiefs

    In addition to its scripted slate (Being Mary Jane, Kevin Hart's Real Husbands of Hollywood) and unscripted (Nellyville, Chasing Destiny) series, the Viacom-owned cable net led by Lee, 61, made a big push into mobile with its BET Play app. Though ratings for the BET Awards were down, the 2016 event made a splash thanks to a moving speech about race in America by Grey's Anatomy's Jesse Williams.

    My first female role model "Cicely Tyson exudes the confidence that comes from a woman who has trusted her instincts, proved them right and positively impacted others by being true to herself."

    Is there a glass ceiling? "I believe in taking risks so I don’t think there’s a glass ceiling."

  • Pamela Levine

    Category: The Film Forces

    Levine, 50, was tapped by newly installed 20th Century Fox chairman Stacey Snider to return to the studio in October as president of worldwide theatrical marketing. The exec had risen through the ranks at Fox to become co-president of domestic marketing, handling campaigns for the likes of Avatar, before she left in 2010 to become chief marketing officer of HBO. "It's rare that you get to hire an accomplished executive who also knows the culture and inner workings of your own studio," says Snider of her high-profile hire.

    How I make my voice heard in any meeting “Only speak when you actually have something of value to add, and be more interested in listening than speaking. But when you do speak, don't apologize for what you say, don't be afraid to question the accepted wisdom in the room, and if you have confidence in your POV, it will be taken seriously."

    Worst thing about working in Hollywood "People thinking that who they are and their value is actually defined by the job they hold."

  • Lesli Linka Glatter

    *New to list

    Category: The Makers

    The four-time Emmy-nominated TV director, 63, spends a lot of time trying to get other women behind the camera. She uses her position on the DGA's board as well as its Diversity Task Force to mentor other female helmers with the hope that someday she won't be the only woman ever to be nominated in the drama directing Emmy category. Linka Glatter also serves as the point person on the set of Showtime's Homeland, even when on location in South Africa, Germany or New York. In April, she was honored with the AFI's Franklin J. Schaffner award.

    Best thing about working in Hollywood "We get to explore the depths of human emotions limited only by our own imaginations."

    Worst thing "When I was a new director, I naively assumed that everything in film and TV would be based on merit. The best and most compelling projects would get made, the best directors for the project would be hired. It is simply not the case."

  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus

    Category: The Stars

    When the funny woman nabbed the lead actress Emmy for the fifth straight year in September, she delivered a poignant speech from the stage in which she thanked her late father and acknowledged that Veep “started out as a political satire, but it now feels more like a sobering documentary.” In addition to being the only performer to win for three different comedy series (Veep, The New Adventures of Old Christine, Seinfeld), Louis-Dreyfus — who also serves as an executive producer on the HBO comedy — has more nominations than any comedy actress ever.

  • Frances Manfredi, Janice Marinelli and Belinda Menendez

    Category: The Dealmakers (Distribution Chiefs)

    Manfredi brought in an eye-popping $1 billion in revenue in 2016 via deals for NBCUniversal content, including The Mindy Project (currently on Hulu) to VH1 and Freeform, and closed the largest streaming deal ever for Telemundo content in the U.S. with Netflix. Marinelli capitalized on the $2 billion global box office for Star Wars: The Force Awakens by setting records with both physical and digital sales. Her division also secured a monster SVOD deal for ABC's FBI drama Quantico. Menendez, in addition to steering the launches of Bravo in New Zealand and Syfy in the Middle East, licensed more than 400 new hours of scripted TV series and 50-plus new feature films.

    Best thing about working in Hollywood
    Manfredi: “Working in New York.”
    Marinelli: “Working for Disney — such a remarkable company.”
    Menendez: “I think I have the best of both worlds — having the opportunity to live and work in London, a world-class city (where our international headquarters are located) and, because of my role, being inextricably linked to the creative, innovative and open-minded talents who define Hollywood.”

    Worst thing about working in Hollywood
    Manfredi: “Working in New York.”
    Marinelli: “The traffic.”

  • Lori McCreary

    Category: The Industry Stewards

    Along with fellow president Gary Lucchesi, McCreary, 55, was re-elected to a second term atop the PGA. At the same time, as exec producer, she's helped shepherd Madam Secretary to its third season on CBS; guided the documentary series Through the Wormhole, fronted by Revelations partner Morgan Freeman, to its seventh season on the Science Channel; and saw their newest series, The Story of God, score an Emmy nom.

    When I feel my work matters most “When someone’s mind is opened to another’s circumstances and decides to reach out to someone they would not have otherwise.”

    When I feel my work matters least "Sometimes when I’m in the room with real politicians and policy makers, I think, 'Wow, I work in the fake State Department and they’re the ones who are actually doing it!'"

    The habit that holds me back "Taking no for an answer. For every project I've gotten produced, I have had many no's — I have to remember it only takes one yes."


  • Amy Miles

    Category: The Chiefs

    Miles' Knoxville, Tenn.-based company operates 7,307 screens, making it the largest chain in the U.S. — though that will change when AMC Theatres, owned by China's Dalian Wanda Group, completes its acquisition of Carmike Cinemas. Regal had been a fierce advocate of keeping theatrical windows as is, but after a slump at the early summer box office hurt earnings, Miles, 50, told investors in late October that the company was open to experimenting with distribution windows. Stay tuned.

    Best thing about working in Hollywood “The excitement of working in an industry that is constantly evolving.”

    Worst thing about working in Hollywood “The associated risks of working in an industry that is constantly evolving.” 

    The habit that holds me back “I say ‘yes’ to requests far my time more often than I should.I'm improving my ‘just-say-no’ strategy.”

  • Hannah Minghella

    Category: The Film Forces

    There's been an exodus at Sony recently, but the U.K.-born exec — daughter of late Oscar-winning director Anthony Minghella — is staying put: She re-upped in November. "It represents both my commitment to the studio and to the filmmakers that I've been working with for the past year," Minghella, 37, says. Those filmmakers include Danny Boyle (who is making Trainspotting 2 for TriStar) and Edgar Wright (Baby Driver, starring Kevin Spacey and Jamie Foxx).

    When I feel my work matters most “When you work on a movie that feels as though it has something to say that is relevant to the world we’re living in, where you can intersect with a cultural conversation.”

    When I feel my work matters least “Well, we’re not saving lives. So whenever I talk to somebody who is a true, everyday hero, what we do seems a little less essential.”

    The habit that holds me back "No matter how hard I try, I cannot read faster than I read!"


  • Courteney Monroe

    Category: The Chiefs

    One year after her promotion to lead her company's global networks, the D.C.-based Monroe, 47, now has stronger ties to Hollywood than ever. Under an expanded partnership with 21st Century Fox, she continues to shepherd Nat Geo's TV identity: Partnerships with Ron Howard, Leonardo DiCaprio and even Elon Musk have seen a deeper push into scripted and prestige docs. Most notable among multiple big swings: the pricey Mars, a scripted documentary hybrid, premiered Nov. 14 to mixed reviews but has reached 15 million viewers worldwide.

    The habit that holds me back "Spending too much time on tactical to-dos and not enough thinking strategically. I remind myself each day not to confuse activity with productivity."

    When I feel my work matters most "When I find my kids watching National Geographic."

    When I feel my work matters least "When I talk to my husband, who works at a nonprofit aimed at helping veterans, about his job."
  • Vanessa Morrison

    Category: The Film Forces

    Last month, Morrison and Fox Animation inked a deal with Tonko House to develop a feature film based on The Dam Keeper, a widely praised 2015 Oscar-nominated animated short written and directed by former Pixar art directors and Tonko founders Robert Kondo and Daisuke “Dice” Tsutsumi. “We saw the short and felt it was a special project and we reach out to them,” says Morrison, 47. “We felt like we had common ground and could have a fruitful partnership. They are at work on the script now.” Meanwhile, Fox's Blue Sky Studios earned its first Golden Globe nomination for The Peanuts Movie (which grossed $246 million worldwide) and released its fifth Ice Age film, Ice Age: Collision Course ($407 million). Next up: a December 2017 release of Ferdinand, based on a children's book about a bull that prefers flowers to fighting.

    How I make my voice heard in any meeting "I feel like it's my job to make my voice heard and speak with integrity, passion and always come prepared.”


  • Diane Nelson

    *New to list

    Category: The Chiefs

    With both Wonder Woman and Justice League rolling out, 2017 promises to be a watershed for Nelson's, 49, portfolio, which also includes eight DC-based TV shows, half of them powering The CW. Her proudest accomplishments of 2016 were the reboot of a comics line (titled DC Rebirth; more than 18 million comics have sold since summer) and the expansion of the Super Hero Girls line, which put out an animated movie and hit The New York Times best-seller lists with its graphic novels.

    My first female role model "Wonder Woman, of course."

    Worst thing about working in Hollywood “The temptation to get lost in the bubble of this industry, with all its privilege and outsized egos.”

    Is there a glass ceiling? “If there is, it will be of my own making. I have experienced tremendous support and opportunity throughout my career. I remember to pay that forward whenever I can.”

  • Sheila Nevins

    Category: The TV Set

    During her 30-plus years at HBO, she has supervised production on more than 1,000 documentary films and had seven titles at Sundance this year, following the runaway success of The Jinx and Going Clear. Getting Gloria Vanderbilt's and Nora Ephron's sons to make docs about their respective moms was her biggest accomplishment: Anderson Cooper's Nothing Left Unsaid and Jacob Bernstein's Everything Is Copy both premiered this year. Up next for the 32-time Emmy winner is Marathon: The Patriots Day Bombing and a film about the Statue of Liberty: "America shouldn't be a place that deports you or fences you out," she says.

    Is there a glass ceiling? "Without question. I would say I have a few shards of glass in my scalp."

    When I feel my work matters most "When I change someone's mind."

    How I make my voice heard in any meeting "I'm the loudest. And I don't like to be interrupted — even if I'm wrong."

    My first female role model "Gloria Steinem. The first woman who I thought, 'Shit — and she’s pretty and she streaks her hair and she has long nails. I can do that.'"

  • Lisa Nishimura

    *New to list

    Category: The TV Set

    In 2013, Nishimura, 45, made the prescient call to develop Making a Murderer from Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi, putting Netflix on the docuseries map. All of the streamer's Oscar nominations (The Square, Virunga, What Happened, Miss Simone?) come thanks to Nishimura's documentary team, which this season released Ava DuVernay's 13th, four other docs and two doc shorts that have generated awards-season buzz. Two feature title — 13th and The Ivory Game — were named to the documentary shortlist on Dec. 6. The daughter of Japanese immigrants who grew up in Northern California recently ordered two Chris Rock specials for $20 million each and lured Dave Chappelle back to TV with a three-special deal.

    Worst thing about working in Hollywood "The commute."

    How my job will change in the next five years “I’ve never had the same day twice. I’ve been at Netflix over nine years, and my first role was buying DVDs for our U.S. business. Then that role evolved into licensing content for our streaming service in North America, and eventually for 190 countries, and today producing original programming for the world. I love that this is a place that embraces and celebrates innovation and rapid evolution. This also makes it pretty challenging to anticipate the role in five years.”

  • Tonia O'Connor

    Category: The TV Set

    The highest-ranking woman at Spanish-language giant Univision, O'Connor, 47, reports to CEO Randy Falco and oversees a staff of 60 people. She led the creation of the company's first OTT English-language digital network, Flama. Millennial-targeted partnerships include investments in The Onion, The Root and the portfolio of Gawker Media Sites as well as the O'Connor-initiated Univision partnership with Snapchat.

  • Taraji P. Henson

    Category: The Stars

    On top of her acclaim for Empire — she netted a third Emmy nomination this year — Henson, 46, is in the Oscar race thanks to her turn as a NASA mathematician in Hidden Figures. She will close out the year with her second Fox special, Taraji's White-Hot Holidays.

    How my job will change in the next five years "I love acting and never want to retire. I want to add to that experience with producing, finding more stories like Hidden Figures. And I'm anxious to do a full-on comedy. I love to laugh."

    Is there a glass ceiling? "I don’t look at it like a glass ceiling but rather a shining light I want to explore."

  • Mary Parent

    Category: The Film Forces

    After five years of producing movies on her own (including ambitious fare like The Revenant, which won three Oscars; Noah; and Pacific Rim), the former MGM and Universal executive, 48, is back in the studio fold, having accepted the Legendary post in March. In just eight months, she's helped the Wanda Group-owned company shepherd major tentpole projects (including Pacific Rim 2 with John Boyega and Skyscraper with Dwayne Johnson) while also expanding its scope with more diverse projects like the upcoming Theranos movie Bad Blood, directed by The Big Short helmer Adam McKay and starring Jennifer Lawrence.

    Best thing about working in Hollywood "Getting to be a part of such a unique creative process and working with some of the world's most talented individuals."

    Worst thing about working in Hollywood "It can sometimes be insulated, and in order to not lose perspective, it's important to constantly be stepping outside of it."

    When I feel my work matters most "When people tell you something you were a part of made them feel something; or knowing how and when to provide support when inevitably something is in the before-the-butterfly stage."

  • Cynthia Pett

    Category: The Reps

    Pett, 53, continues to rep superstars like Brad Pitt and Kyle Chandler, but her real skills are lifting mortal clients to Herculean heights — like landing Charlie Hunnam in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and putting Aaron Taylor-Johnson in Nocturnal Animals and Doug Liman's The Wall, not to mention Eve Hewson in Robin Hood: Origins.

    When I feel my work matters most "When work and friendship collide: being able to keep my client and dear friend Brad Pitt's movie career on track even through the storm of publicity and knowing we always have each other's back."

  • Terry Press

    Category: The Film Forces

    Press pulled off one of the biggest box-office coups of the year when Hell or High Water, a modern-day Western, rode out of nowhere to become the top-grossing specialty release of 2016 ($27 million through Dec. 2) as well as an awards contender. In an unorthodox move, Press, 56, and her team opened the film, starring Chris Pine, Ben Foster and Jeff Bridges, in multiplexes in the Southwest as well as L.A. and New York art houses. Next up for Press is Pete Berg’s Boston Marathon bombing drama, Patriots Day, which opens in select theaters Dec. 21 and stars Mark Wahlberg. CBS Films markets all of their films, which are distributed by Lionsgate.

    The habit that holds me back "Telling the truth. Not everyone can handle the truth."

    Best thing about working in Hollywood "I’m able to work with genuinely interesting and creative people."

    Worst thing about working in Hollywood "You work with genuinely interesting and creative people who have massive entitlement issues and think the world revolves around their every word and deed."

  • Gigi Pritzker

    Category: The Makers

    OddLot, the film and television division of Madison Wells Media, had an unexpected hit this year with Hell or High Water; the arty Western has grossed $27 million so far and is considered a comer in the Oscar race. This year, Pritzker, 54, also branched into TV (with Genius for Nat Geo), inked a deal with Sony to develop VR content based on the studio's upcoming films and launched The Universe, a graphic novels company. But there's been some downsizing as well. She recently sold off her stake in streaming service FilmBuff and in international sales company Sierra/Affinity, while maintaining holdings in STX Entertainment and Fandor and adding positions in Wevr, Atom Tickets and The Void.

    Worst thing about working in Hollywood "The fear. There's so much fear and insecurity."

    The habit that holds me back "I tend to give people an out before I need to. That probably isn’t a great approach. I’m working on it."

  • Keri Putnam

    Category: The Industry Stewards

    Overseeing a staff of 170 spread among Park City, L.A. and New York, Putnam, 51, has a hand in the annual Sundance Film Festival — which in January will introduce a New Climate program, highlighting films addressing climate change and environmental protection — while also juggling the institute's year-round programs designed to develop the next generation of filmmakers, 350 of them each year. One top priority: the Systemic Change Project, begun in 2015 with Women in Film Los Angeles, to fight gender bias in Hollywood.

    Best thing about working in Hollywood “It's never the same. We get to immerse in a new world and find new community with every project.”

    Worst thing about working in Hollywood “The idea that only what's worked before will work again.”

  • Shari Redstone

    Category: Head of the Class

    For decades, Hollywood has fixated on the deals and dramas of Viacom and CBS owner Sumner Redstone. But this year, the mogul whose machinations captivated the industry like no other was his daughter. After a prolonged estrangement, Shari Redstone, 62, reunited with her ailing 93-year-old father and, while she stresses she merely was acting on his wishes, she won a bitter, litigious battle to rid the faltering Viacom — parent of Paramount, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, MTV and more — of entrenched chairman and CEO Philippe Dauman (as well as his cronies on the board).

    Now Shari and her father have set in motion a possible reunification of CBS and Viacom, the companies — with a combined market cap of about $40 billion and 2015 profits of $3.3 billion — that Sumner separated a decade ago. A merger, which would require government approval, not only could reposition the companies that touch everything from 60 Minutes to Transformers movies to SpongeBob SquarePants, but it also would give whoever runs the whole enchilada (insiders are betting on CBS' Leslie Moonves) a vast empire, albeit a challenged one on the Viacom side. Her father still is embroiled in legal battles with his former companions Manuela Herzer and Sydney Holland to recover $150 million in gifts. (Herzer also is suing Shari, accusing her of behind-the-scenes scheming.) But Shari says she's looking forward to returning her focus to the nonprofit and startup worlds once the Viacom/CBS future is clear.

    For her success at cleaning house in the family's business — both public and private — THR has named her the Women in Entertainment Executive of the Year. She says the honor "could not have happened at a time when it could have been more meaningful."

    The habit that holds me back "Oh, I think my worst habit, everybody would probably totally agree on this, is dictating my messages into my iPhone and not checking them before I send them out. It is amazing the words it transcribes.They can be frightening."

    Read Redstone's full profile here.

  • Shonda Rhimes

    Category: Head of the Class

    Retaining five dramas on a single network is enough to rank Rhimes, 46, among the most formidable voices in TV. But with the continued success of Grey's Anatomy and more new productions each season, all of them from her stable of homegrown writers, Rhimes' stunning run at ABC has evolved into something wholly unique as she has grown Shondaland (which now employs 20) into one of Hollywood's most prolific production companies. Even with diminished returns for How to Get Away With Murder and a modest debut for The Catch, Rhimes rolls on, adding a new hour on ABC in the spring with an untitled period drama (formerly Still Star-Crossed) and presiding over unprecedented ratings retention for Grey's (broadcast's No. 5 scripted fall series, 13 seasons in).

    The single mom of three children's 2015 memoir, Year of Yes, was an instant best-seller, her appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live! give ratings a pop and her 2016 TED Talk has amassed more than 3 million views. Rhimes' future aspirations are, unsurprisingly, big. But, spoiler-averse in every aspect of her life, she demurs on specifics. "I definitely see my job growing and expanding, not necessarily limited to making television," she says. "The medium is changing, and the way we reach our audiences is growing and changing. We're interested in changing with it."

    Best thing about working in Hollywood "Getting to write ‘Interior: Oval Office, day’ or ‘Interior: E.R., day’ and then having someone build it."

    Worst thing about working in Hollywood "If I spent my time thinking about the worst part of working in Hollywood, I'd feel pretty spoiled."

    When I feel my work matters most "When somebody tells me they've become a doctor because of Grey's Anatomy. Or someone who diagnosed an illness in themselves because of Grey's Anatomy. The show saved somebody's life. That's crazy."

    Read more on Rhimes here.

  • Kelly Ripa

    *New to list

    Category: The Stars

    Ripa's, 46, boycott of her own show last spring in the wake of the mishandled exit of co-host Michael Strahan shone a light on "respect in the workplace," as she put it. This season she was given more control of the show she has steered for nearly 16 years.

    My first female role model “Carol Burnett.”

    Best thing about working in Hollywood “I live in New York.”

    Worst thing about working in Hollywood “I live in New York.”

    Is there a glass ceiling? “I don’t know how to spell the 'laughing so hard I’m crying emoji.'"

    The habit that holds me back “At times, being brutally honest. I’m working on trying to lie more.”

    What I did the morning after the election "I hosted my nonpolitical talk show — with Megyn Kelly!"


  • Jo Ann Ross, Geri Wang and Linda Yaccarino

    Category: The TV Set (Ad Sales Stars)

    Ross, 63, this year again scored double-digit gains in the annual upfront bazaar and converted more of the network's inventory to C7 (commercial ratings with seven days of playback), up from C3. She also led the effort to secure a jaw-dropping $5 million for 30-second Super Bowl spots, a new record. Wang, 56, scored double-digit CPM (cost per thousand viewers) gains despite the fact that ABC slipped to fourth place last season in the 18-to-49 demographic. Yaccarino, 53, posted an upfront haul of more than $6 billion for NBC, with CPM increases for NBC primetime, USA and E!

    Best thing about working in Hollywood
    Ross: "Doing 'Carpool Karaoke' with our talented and hysterical The Late Late Show host James Corden."
    Wang: "The beautiful people."
    Yaccarino: "Andy Cohen is always available for happy hour."

    Is there a glass ceiling?
    Ross: "The sky’s the limit. There are always new opportunities!"
    Yaccarino: "Not unless you count the one in the roof of my car."

  • Susan Rovner and Lisa Gregorian

    Category: The TV Set

    Rovner, 47, scored a full-season order for Fox's Lethal Weapon, a series order for Kevin Williamson's Time After Time at ABC and a Training Day reboot at CBS. She negotiated the transfer of Supergirl from CBS (and L.A.) to The CW (and Vancouver), and on the cable side, she helped develop HBO ratings smash Westworld and landed a series pickup for John Wells' American Woman at TV Land. Oh, there's also WBTV's deal with Netflix for the Gilmore Girls revival. Gregorian, 52, meanwhile, oversees global marketing for more than 75 scripted and unscripted series and played a key role in securing the off-network syndication deal for the Chuck Lorre comedy Mom.

    Is there a glass ceiling?
    Rovner: "I work with some amazing and evolved men who look at women as equals. That said, yes."
    Gregorian: "I don't think about it because I look forward, not up."

  • J.K. Rowling

    Category: Head of the Class

    Rowling's, 51, magical reign didn't end when the $7.7 billion Harry Potter franchise wrapped up with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2 in 2011. The British author — who has spent the years since Harry put down his wand writing new stories on her site Pottermore while penning adult novel The Casual Vacancy (which became a BBC/HBO limited series) as well as a series of crime novels — returns to Hollywood this year with Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (for which she wrote the screenplay). The hotly anticipated film had a $75 million domestic debut in November and has earned $509 million worldwide as of Dec. 1. "I was moving back into the world that I've been thinking about for 26 years now, and it felt very friendly — but it is an entirely new story," she told THR at Fantastic Beasts' New York premiere in November.

    The married mom of three already is hard at work on writing the sequel, having announced in October that the new franchise would comprise five films (she'll write all the scripts). The most powerful author in Hollywood also has the limited series Cormoran Strike set up at HBO that is based on crime novels she wrote under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

  • Jennifer Salke

    Category: Head of the Class

    Five years into her NBC tenure, coinciding with the network's turnaround, Salke, 52, wraps another fall with a slew of No. 1s. Working alongside network chairman Bob Greenblatt, the entertainment president has the highest-rated (This Is Us) and best-reviewed (The Good Place) series of the fall freshman class. NBC also approaches the end of the calendar year as (yet again) TV's highest-rated of the season.

    The success of This Is Us has been a particular source of pride for Salke — even before the family-focused tearjerker became more relevant after the divisive presidential election. "It's the new therapist for America," she says with a laugh, then adds — with a straight face — that she would have quit if the 20th TV-produced project had landed at another network: "We needed a show that had enough sizzle to get attention but also tapped into all of that emotion that people want now."

    Owning programming continues to be a big push at NBC, as at other networks, which is one reason Salke added yet another series from Dick Wolf's Chicago franchise this season. The four Universal Television-produced dramas represent a fraction of the mounting number of in-house efforts for the company. Off-net, Salke also has bragging rights to one of the biggest critical breakouts of the past year: Netflix's UTV-produced Master of None, which she oversees. Looking ahead, comedy is a priority. She aims to build on the critical acclaim of The Good Place and success of 2015 debut Superstore to revive NBC's storied sitcom brand — though with a little less snark. "We've been veering in an anti-cynical direction with some of these shows," she says. "Comedy is a place to take a really close look at what audiences want."

    Best thing about working in Hollywood “Whether it's interfacing with my colleagues, actors, or showrunners and producers, I always feel fortunate that I spend most of my time listening to stories.”

    How my job will change in the next five years “The business model is dramatically shifting. The challenges with content saturation and changing viewing habits will only create more pressure as time goes on.”

    Read more on Salke here.

  • Amy Schumer

    Category: The Stars

    “It’s been an insane year,” Schumer has been prone to saying onstage during her current stand-up tour. “I’ve gotten very rich, famous and humble.” While 2015 was a breakout year for the stand-up comedian turned worldwide star, her growing empire has shown no signs of slowing in 2016. She nabbed both a WGA (for best original screenplay) and Golden Globe (best actress) nomination for her 2015 film Trainwreck, was nominated for three Emmys for her HBO special Amy Schumer Live at the Apollo, released her memoir (for which she got a huge $9 million advance), The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo, in August, and shot her next movie, a mother-daughter comedy starring Goldie Hawn that will hit theaters in May 2017. She’s currently on her first 50-stop world tour, has a script in the works with Jennifer Lawrence, and her Comedy Central series, Inside Amy Schumer, has been renewed for a fifth season.

  • Leslie Siebert

    Category: The Reps

    Four of Siebert's clients scored Emmy nominations this year: Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent), Allison Janney (Mom), David Schwimmer (The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story) and Kyle Chandler (Bloodline). "We're figuring out what his next move is," she says of Chandler, whose Netflix drama will end after its third season. "He definitely wants to go back and do another TV show, and there's a lot on the table." She also helped to secure Angela Bassett a role in Marvel's Blank Panther, put Janney in the Tonya Harding biopic I, Tonya opposite Margot Robbie and set up Catherine Keener's directing debut with the forthcoming dramedy Friend of Bill, starring Lizzy Caplan. Client Miranda Otto is jumping from Homeland to 24: Legacy. Adds Siebert, 54, of the Fox reboot, "I think it's going to be a big, fat hit."

    Best thing about working in Hollywood “Having the same group of close friends for 30 years.”

    Worst thing about working in Hollywood “That group is getting smaller.”

    How my job will change in the next five years "It will get harder and I will be more tired."


  • Molly Smith

    *New to list

    Category: The Makers

    Smith's 3-year-old company hit its stride in 2016 with five films on their way into theaters, starting with Damien Chazelle's Oscar frontrunner La La Land and continuing with Sicario sequel Soldado, the J.D. Salinger biopic Rebel in the Rye and the wildfire disaster film Granite Mountain. But Black Label isn't all about awards movies; it's also making a low-budget, high school comedy, Sierra Burgess Is a Loser, which Smith, 35, developed after seeing director Ian Samuels' short. "We're really excited to mix our slate up and support up-and-coming filmmakers," she says.

    Best thing about working in Hollywood “I love the glamour of old Hollywood and being able to bring great stories to life and making an event out of them where people can still cherish the idea of going to theaters for an escape and to be entertained and moved.”

    Worst thing about working in Hollywood “Cutting through the clutter with so much content out there and in so many different platforms. It's getting harder and harder for wonderful stories to break through.”

  • Stacey Snider

    Category: Head of the Class

    A decade after she left Universal, Snider once again is running a major studio: On Sept. 1, she succeeded Jim Gianopulos as Fox capo in a move orchestrated by 21st Century Fox chiefs James and Lachlan Murdoch. Snider, 55, first arrived at Fox in late 2014 from DreamWorks, tapped by Rupert Murdoch to serve as co-chairman, but never was allowed into Gianopulos' inner circle (many say it was an impossible situation for both). Since his ouster, she has brought on HBO marketing star Pamela Levine, who worked at Fox for years before leaving in 2010, as president of worldwide marketing.

    The married mother of two daughters also hired veteran Andrew Cripps to serve as president of international distribution. And she tapped Beth Goss, with whom she worked at Universal, to serve in the studio's new position of chief brand officer. One area Snider hasn't yet touched is production, where she's said to have an alliance with production president Emma Watts. Snider and crew are hoping for a place in the awards race with Fox 2000's Hidden Figures (Dec. 25), about female African-American mathematicians who helped put the U.S. into space.

  • Jill Soloway

    Category: The Makers

    This fall, the Chicago native, 51, sold a second show to Amazon, I Love Dick, starring Kathryn Hahn and Kevin Bacon, on the back of the continued critical success of Transparent, which bowed its third season in September days after it added three more Emmy wins to its trophy pile. Her production company, Topple (as in "topple the patriarchy," as she exclaimed while picking up her Emmy), also is working on a feature called Ten Aker Wood, which Soloway will direct.

    When I feel my work matters most “Right now. More than ever. What an awful shock and humiliation to see the deep distrust and dislike of anyone Other than a white cis man play out on a global level. Women, people of color and queer folk are beginning to connect and align over our shared struggle to be the subject instead of the object. Now every last one of us must power up and demand access to the tools of power, which include the propaganda of protagonism. So my work matters most when I meet writers who tell me that watching my work inspired them to create.”

    When I feel my work matters least "If I take a nap in the afternoon, after I wake up I'm under the deep impression that nothing matters and everything I do is a waste of time. Luckily that only lasts for a few minutes!"


  • Beatrice Springborn

    *New to list

    Category: The TV Set

    Since joining the streamer in 2014, Springborn, 41, has greenlighted and developed Difficult People, The Path and Golden Globe nominee Casual. "This past year has been honing in on the projects our audience loves now that we have a baseline of what works," she says, pointing to such event series as the Stephen King adaptation 11.22.63 and Lawrence Wright and Alex Gibney's upcoming 10-episode mini The Looming Tower. She'll soon expand Hulu's roster with the Josh Hutcherson-led comedy Future Man from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the Elisabeth Moss-fronted remake of The Handmaid's Tale and the brothel drama Harlots.

    Best thing about working in Hollywood "Meeting your heroes, and getting to read for a big part of your living."

    Worst thing about working in Hollywood "People who are horrible to their assistants because they think that behavior means you work in Hollywood."

    When I feel my work matters most "When we work with first-time creators."

  • Sandra Stern

    Category: The TV Set

    Since her September 2015 promotion to president, Stern has helped the independent studio triple its TV roster to nearly 80 series on 40 different networks. Her 2016 was highlighted by a massive (and rare) three-season renewal for Jenji Kohan's Netflix prison dramedy Orange Is the New Black and a tricky deal among ABC Studios, Lionsgate, Hulu and CMT to move the country music drama Nashville to the Viacom-owned cable network. On top of that, she also scored a Golden Globe nomination for the acclaimed Hulu comedy Casual. Up next are Netflix's movie-to-TV series Dear White People, HBO's Sean Penn-produced American Lion and ABC's Dirty Dancing movie.

    Best thing about working in Hollywood "The camaraderie. The TV business still feels like a big, noisy, argumentative and sometimes dysfunctional family."

    The habit that holds me back “I am impatient and it is hard for me to allow my team to work at their own pace. It’s remarkable how calming a Slinky and candles can be.”

    How my job will change in the next five years “Well, I hope to be working from a beach in the Caribbean. Seriously, the television business is going through a tectonic shift, and will continue to do so over the coming years. But I believe content will continue to be paramount, so despite the changes in delivery systems and relationships between networks and producers, the one constant I trust is that there will always be a need for great stories and someone who can produce them.”

  • Kimberly Steward

    *New to list

    Category: The Makers

    The daughter of World Wide Technology founder David Steward, the St. Louis-born producer and film financier took no time making a name for herself in Hollywood. K Period financed Sundance fave and Oscar contender Manchester by the Sea, the Kenneth Lonergan drama starring Casey Affleck, and has six other projects in various stages of development. Steward, 35, credits her mom with fostering her interest in film. "All those visits to Blockbuster as a child have definitely paid off now."

    How my job will change in the next five years "I'm someone who wants to be involved on the creative side and on the ground and reimagine what the financing producer looks like."

  • Meryl Streep

    Category: The Stars

    Her turn as an out-of-tune opera singer in Florence Foster Jenkins (which grossed $27.4 million domestically) could earn the legend yet another Oscar nomination (she has a record 19 acting nominations and three wins), and Streep, 67, will receive the Cecil B. DeMille Award at January's Golden Globes. She's about to play Mary Poppins' cousin Topsy in Mary Poppins Returns and will command a tidy $825,000 per episode for the buzzy limited series J.J. Abrams is adapting from Nathan Hill's novel The Nix for Warner Bros. TV. A fiery feminist, she tirelessly stumped for Hillary — addressing the Democratic Convention from the podium and even lampooning Trump at a New York fundraiser for The Public Theater. And she’s been a frequent visitor to the White House, attending a gender equality summit in June and returning in October to promote the CNN documentary We Will Rise, which recorded a summer visit she and Michele Obama took to Liberia and Morocco.

  • Jennifer Todd

    *New to list

    Category: The Makers

    Todd, 47, spent much of the year shuttling between Matt (exec producing Jason Bourne, which grossed $415.2 million worldwide) and Ben (producing his period crime drama, Live by Night, which opens Christmas Day). But she also had time without the boys, co-producing (with her sister Suzanne) Disney's Alice Through the Looking Glass, the fizzled follow-up to 2010's Alice in Wonderland, and the futuristic USA series Incorporated. The biggest job ahead: producing the 89th Oscars with former New Line colleague Michael De Luca.

    My first female role model “My sister Suzanne who always paved the way for me in life and career.”

    Best thing about working in Hollywood “Meeting your heroes.”

    Worst thing about working in Hollywood “When business wins over art.”

    The habit that holds me back "I overcommit and then complain when I have no free time."


  • Suzanne Todd

    Category: The Makers

    Todd, 51, made a ton of new friends since producing Bad Moms, one of the year's highest-grossing comedies ($180 million worldwide). "So many moms would reach out and say, 'You know, I feel better now about the lunch that I packed today,' " she says. Made on a modest $20 million budget, the Mila Kunis-starrer is the biggest release to-date for the fledgling studio, STX Entertainment. In 2016, she also produced (with Jennifer) Alice Through the Looking Glass, which pulled in nearly $300 million at the global box office. Looking forward, the single mother of three has several projects in development under her Suzanne Todd Productions banner and will reteam with Disney on the comedy Magic Camp, starring Jeffrey Tambor and Adam Devine.

    Worst thing about working in Hollywood "Good work doesn't necessarily beget a raise or get you to the next step."

    First thing I do when I wake up in the morning "I am a single mom to three kids and we have a dog, a cat and two chinchillas. So the morning starts at 5:45 and it’s breakfast for one and breakfast for another and this one needs this pill and the chinchillas get their hay and the dog gets a walk and then this one has early-morning tennis practice and then the third gets breakfast at 7:15. My morning goes from 5:45 a.m. to 8 a.m., when I drop the last of the three kids off [at school]. I call it the gauntlet."  

  • Jenno Topping

    *New to list

    Category: The Makers

    Topping's projects at Peter Chernin's Fox-based company include several female-focused stories, such as the buzzy awards film Hidden Figures, bowing Christmas Day; Amy Schumer's next film, a mother-daughter comedy with Goldie Hawn that opens in 2017; the romantic drama The Mountain Between Us, starring Kate Winslet and Idris Elba; and P.T. Barnum musical biopic The Greatest Showman with Hugh Jackman. Topping, 48, also will bring the follow-up to Chernin's biggest hit (2014's Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, $710 million worldwide) to theaters in the summer.

    Best thing about working in Hollywood "Stories and storytellers."

    Worst thing about working in Hollywood "Bullshit and bullshitters."

    First thing I do when I wake up in the morning "Push my dog's nose away from my face."

  • Nancy Utley

    Category: The Film Forces

    No getting around it, Searchlight had a big setback this year, paying $17 million for Birth of a Nation only to see the film derailed by a rape trial from its director/star's past. But Utley, 61, is having better luck with Jackie, a biopic starring Natalie Portman as Jacqueline Kennedy that is building significant awards buzz.

    First thing I do when I wake up in the morning "I go downstairs to play with our two Cocker Spaniels, Joey and Chandler. They are cuddliest when they first wake up and are the best stress relievers ever."

    The habit that holds me back "I’ve been wasting way too much time on social media and just browsing the internet looking at random stuff. I am trying to be conscious of this and use my time more meaningfully."

  • Dana Walden

    Category: Head of the Class

    Nobody has a greater reach in TV than Walden, 52. Running both a network (Fox Broadcasting Co.) and a studio (20th Century Fox TV), each alongside longtime partner Gary Newman, she boasts a daunting portfolio of 40 series across channels and platforms. Even as Fox has moved up again, now No. 2 for the season thanks to some rare stability and the boon of a boffo World Series, some of Walden's greatest accomplishments are housed elsewhere. She oversees the highest-rated shows on four networks: ABC (Modern Family), FX (American Horror Story), NBC (This Is Us) and Showtime (Homeland). Most notable this season is This Is Us, Dan Fogelman's Parenthood-esque drama that quickly emerged as the lone broadcast breakout, pulling an average 4.6 rating in the key 18-to-24 demo. And don't forget about Empire, the Fox drama tied for No. 1 Big Four scripted status with CBS' The Big Bang Theory.

    On top of ratings breakouts (the January return of The X-Files reached 50 million global viewers in its first three days) and awards bait (74 Emmy nominations and 20 wins for the studio in 2016), she even has the rare show that checks both boxes: The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, under the Fox 21 banner, transcended the obstacles of linear TV to become one of FX's most-watched series of all time and a winner of nine Emmys, including outstanding limited series.

    Her own meteoric success aside, "There is a glass ceiling," Walden recently observed in her plush Century City office with its Pacific views. "If there were not, you'd probably see a woman at the very top of a media company. There is a layer of women just under that C-suite of an organization — smart, impressive women who are bumping up against that level. But I think it remains to be seen if any of us will emerge as a genuine leader of an organization like this."

    When I feel my work matters most "When it brings people together, like with Empire or This Is Us."

    When I feel my work matters least "When one of my daughters is having a crisis."

    How I make my voice heard in any meeting "I have a loud and somewhat surprising whistle."

    Read more on Walden here.

  • Laura Wasser

    *New to list

    Category: The Dealmakers

    Divorce isn't fun for anyone, especially stars who live under a 24/7 microscope, but Wasser, 48, works hard to keep things as painless as possible. She recently handled two high-profile splits, representing Johnny Depp (divorcing Amber Heard) and Angelina Jolie (divorcing Brad Pitt). It's not her clients, though, that brought her biggest challenge this year. "In August, my dad was diagnosed with cancer," she says, speaking of her father and business partner Dennis Wasser. "He's the original celebrity divorce attorney. It was a crushing blow after a big summer of Johnny Depp." On Nov. 15 she got the news that he's now cancer-free. Wasser is currently looking forward to the 2017 launch of, a website and app that allows people to complete their divorces online with the help of artificial intelligence and online mediators.

    My first female role model "My mother, Bunny Wasser. She went from being the leader of my Brownie troop to a law school student when I was 8 and she was 30. She showed me the importance of constantly growing, learning and evolving."

    When I feel my work matters most "When I am helping families move to the next chapter of their lives, peacefully."

  • Emma Watts

    Category: The Film Forces

    There was a lot of speculation about how Watts, 46, would fit in when Stacey Snider stepped into Jim Gianopulos' chairman/CEO shoes, but so far she appears to be an important cog in the new machine. Watts had a rough summer — X-Men Apocalypse and Independence Day: Resurgence both disappointed ­— but she's still riding high from her success earlier in the year, when Deadpool became the top-grossing R-rated film of all time ($748 million worldwide). Watts is currently shepherding the next installments in the Planet of the Apes and Kingsman series, two of her marquee franchises, as well as Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant, all out next year.

    Best thing about working in Hollywood "The people."

    Worst thing "The people."

  • Sophie Watts

    *New to list

    Category: The Film Forces

    Though she keeps a relatively low profile in Hollywood, as one of STX’s first employees, the 31-year-old U.K. native has become the chief architect of the company's overseas growth strategy. In 2016, she spearheaded the formation of the studio’s international film division and hired film sales veteran David Kosse to be president of STX International. That division, which now boasts 50 output agreements covering the global market, made headlines in Cannes when it struck a massive $50 million deal for foreign rights to Martin Scorsese’s next film, The Irishman. Earlier this year, Watts helped launch STX’s nonscripted television division, which quickly secured development deals for 12 shows to multiple networks in the U.S. and Asia, becoming the first U.S.-based entertainment company involved in a broadcast TV show airing in China. She also was a key player in the closing of the studio’s Series C financing, led by investors including Hong Kong telecommunications company PCCW and Tencent, and led the acquisition of virtual reality production and distribution company Surreal in August.

    How I make my voice heard in any meeting “Have an opinion.”

  • Oprah Winfrey

    Category: The Chiefs

    With her cable net now boasting commercial and critical successes, Winfrey, 62, has a renewed focus on acting. She stars in HBO telepic The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, has a recurring role on OWN's Greenleaf and is set to appear in Ava DuVernay's adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time. Speaking of DuVernay, her Queen Sugar further propelled OWN into prestige as the channel splits its scripted efforts between Tyler Perry hits and subtler (and equally watched) dramas. An executive producer on both Greenleaf and Queen Sugar, Winfrey's intimately involved in the series and live tweets most episodes to her 35 million followers.

    First thing I do when I wake up in the morning "Say 'thank you.'"

    The habit that holds me back "Procrastinating. I try to make the call I least want to make first and get my least favorite tasks done by noon."

    Is there a glass ceiling? “I have always lived like there wasn't a glass ceiling, and hence never felt it.”

  • Susan Wojcicki

    Category: The Chiefs

    In February, the longtime Google exec, 48, took YouTube and its 1 billion users in a new direction with the launch of original programming, including series Scare PewDiePie and documentary A Trip to Unicorn Island, available to subscribers of the $10-a-month Red service. The originals team, led by Susanne Daniels, has ambitious projects in the works, including a Step Up adaptation and projects with Dwayne Johnson and Doug Liman. YouTube also is said to be eyeing an early 2017 launch for a skinny bundle of live linear programming, called Unplugged, from broadcasters including CBS.

    My first female role model "Marie Curie, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences, whose daughter also won a Nobel Prize."

  • Jennifer Yuh Nelson

    *New to list

    Category: The Makers

    That her animated feature was the highest-grossing movie directed by a woman in 2016 is a fact that surprises Nelson, 44, but also concerns her. "I wish there was someone even higher and even another person higher than that," she says, noting that as a female helmer of Asian heritage, she's "a double whammy rare unicorn." Nelson is in preproduction on her live-action debut, the Shawn Levy-produced Darkest Minds, which will star Amandla Stenberg.

    When I feel my work matters most "When people on the crew tell me they're proud of their work."

    When I feel my work matters least "When I'm having fun drawing my boards in my room. No one will ever see them, so they only matter to me."

  • Cyma Zarghami

    Category: The Chiefs

    In a tumultuous year at Viacom, the Kids & Family Group has prospered under the leadership of Zarghami, 53. Nickelodeon continues to rank No. 1 with kids and preschoolers thanks to new entries like The Loud House while also working to lure back older viewers. A year into its reinvention with single-camera series (see: Darren Star's Younger), TV Land has cut its median age by seven years and has upcoming series from Melissa McCarthy (Nobodies) and John Wells (American Woman). CMT, also moving further into scripted, has scored solid ratings with half-hour Still the King and landed the upcoming fifth season of Nashville as part of a major pact with Hulu.

    Best thing about working in Hollywood "The creative energy, the passionate people and the sunshine." 

    Is there a glass ceiling? "I've been extremely lucky to be at a company like Viacom that values diversity of all kinds and all levels. I've been here for more than 30 years, and there haven't been any limits."

  • Zhang Wei

    *New to list

    Category: The Film Forces

    When the Asian e-commerce giant decided to get into the movie business, it turned to this Harvard Business School grad to lay the course. Her first moves: investments in Paramount sequels to Star Trek, Mission: Impossible and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Her second: forming a long-term strategic partnership with Steven Spielberg's Amblin Partners.

    When I feel my work matters the most "Nothing matters more than the smile on my kid's face."

    The habit that holds me back "I tend to talk really fast. I try to be conscious about this and often ask people if they would like me to repeat myself."

    The best thing about Trump's victory "There's an online video of his granddaughter [Arabella Kushner] dressed in a Chinese costume reciting Chinese poems, so someone in his family does respect Chinese culture."