Second Annual Variety500 Unveiled: The 500 Most Important People in Global Media

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Welcome to the second annual edition of the Variety500, Variety’s annual index of the 500 most important individuals working in global media today (full list available here).

Now that the Variety500 is entering its second year, the inaugural edition of the list from 2017 provides a benchmark for measuring the changes that will shape this annual collection of the world’s most impactful people working in media today.

Our hope is that the 500 profiles we’ve painstakingly assembled both here in print and online at Variety500.com become a lens through which the state of the business can be surveyed every year.

Nowhere is that truer than on the diversity front. What better way to assess in the #MeToo era whether women and people of color are becoming better represented in the highest ranks of the global entertainment industry than to examine whether the Variety500 reflected such a trend? And if this year’s list is any indication, there are some encouraging signs to note.

Female representation in the Variety500 was up 13% this year over 2017, with the 104 women that made the cut comprising just over 20% of the list. African-American representation (men and women) also jumped significantly, from 25 to 35 honorees. Hopefully those numbers will continue to improve over time; they are just the first step toward a future where there’s greater demographic balance in the ranks of the elite individuals recognized by Variety500.

In that spirit, we at Variety applied considerable scrutiny to last year’s list, as reflected in the turnover rate: There are 168 new faces this year. That means one-third of last year’s honorees are not back again, a testament to turbulent times in the entertainment sector.

Even before the process began to make selections for 2018, the list began to slim down as we were forced to re-evaluate previous inductees due to their alleged indiscretions, from Harvey Weinstein to Leslie Moonves. An individual’s power can’t be celebrated in the Variety500 when there has been a serious abuse of that power.

The publication undertook an exhaustive assessment of the media world’s leadership landscape to ensure no one of note escaped our attention. That said, there will no doubt be criticism for whom we admitted or omitted from the Variety500. We welcome the debate, as well as your input on future editions, because the quest to put together the 2019 edition has already begun. We look forward to hearing from you at EIC@variety.com.