Hollywood’s New Leaders: Digital and PR

Variety‘s Hollywood’s New Leaders profiles those to look out for in the worlds of film, TV, digital and more. For more of the New Leaders, click here.

Chris Bruss, 32 (center)
President, digital content, Funny or Die
Bruss’ job is to make the Funny or Die creative team stand apart with smart and timely material — not cheap laughs. “We’re not just looking for clicks,” he says. One of FOD’s first video producers back in 2009 working with co-founder Will Ferrell, Bruss ran the company’s branded-entertainment group before moving into his current role overseeing all digital content. He previously worked in the biz dev group at CAA, a founding partner in Funny or Die. “While comedy and creativity need chaos to thrive, there is such a thing as organized chaos,” he says.

Matthew Dysart, 33 (far right)
Head of Business Affairs, AwesomenessTV and Big Frame
Dysart was an associate at law firm Sheppard Mullin before joining AwesomenessTV in 2014. He’s now helping to usher the company through a transition from YouTube-based network to Generation Z studio and talent management company. Dysart led negotiations for YouTube’s first feature-film partnership, which created six original films to premiere on YouTube through 2017, and made a Verizon deal that created three channels totaling over 200 hours of original programming for Verizon’s new Go90 platform. Career goal: “Provide business leadership for our innovative media brands by developing new forms of content creation, marketing and distribution.”

Jordyn Palos, 30 (second from left)
Founder, Persona PR
At 25, Palos, formerly a Cheesecake Factory employee, started her firm from her apartment. Within five years, Persona PR had offices in L.A., New York and Chicago with 15 employees and 200 clients, including “Walking Dead’s” Josh McDermitt, “Blood & Oil’s” Scott Michael Foster, “Casual’s” Tara Lynne Barr and Disney star Debby Ryan. “I Jerry-Maguired it,” Palos says with a laugh, explaining that her company has a knack for pushing out next-gen talent. “We’re very aggressive in pitching our clients because they’re building their careers.” Her top goal is to avoid turnover when those clients reach A-list status and that means no down time. Case in point: Palos showed up at Variety’s New Leaders photo shoot more than eight months’ pregnant.

Phil Ranta, 33 (second from right)
COO, Collective Digital Studio
The digital-content boom is raw fuel for companies like CDS, which operates a network of 1,000-plus channels. But for Ranta, the fast-evolving environment and emergence of video platforms beyond YouTube makes figuring out how to get the maximum reach for Collective’s creator base a hugely complex task. The exec, who moonlights as a standup comedian, previously spent three years building up the audience at Fullscreen — an eon in the multichannel-network world. “It’s a delicate balance that’s only going to get harder, as more investment dollars funnel through companies focused on reaching millennial audiences,” Ranta says.

Beatrice Springborn, 40 (far left)
Head of Originals, Hulu
The former film and TV development exec is bringing must-see exclusives to Hulu, once viewed as a repository for last night’s shows. Since joining in mid-2014, Springborn has greenlit a notable slate, including thriller “11/22/63,” based on Stephen King’s time-travel fantasy about the JFK assassination, and comedies like Amy Poehler’s “Difficult People,” Jason Reitman’s “Casual” and season four of “The Mindy Project.” Her biggest challenge? Staying the course amid the dealmaking barrage by rivals Netflix and Amazon. “It’s really hard to not pivot or have major fomo (fear of missing out),” Springborn says. “But even with that noise, I am excited that Hulu is a part of that same conversation.”

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