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The individuals chosen for Variety500 are the result of months of deliberation by the Variety editorial team. Over the course of several meetings scheduled throughout the year, we refine the list through careful analysis of each person’s merits, based on research and consultation with the industry at large.

But Variety500 is not a science. Judgments are rendered according to subjective assessments that balance what someone has accomplished over the past 12 months with the achievements made prior to that period. Because Variety500 is an annual list, recent career performance is more heavily weighted than previous work.

There is, of course, no one way to measure excellence, particularly when you consider the diverse range of career paths in the media and entertainment sector, from boardrooms to editing bays. But when you peruse the ranks of the Variety500, some clear patterns emerge regarding what constitutes the kind of success worth honoring in this list.

As Variety editors comb the ranks of every sector in content production and distribution, we look for the people who are responsible either for one outsize success or for developing a consistent Midas touch, both creatively and commercially. We are on the lookout for those who innovate, take risks, spur growth and make the kind of moves that prompt consumers and professionals alike to take notice.

Conversely, we must make tough calls regarding the people who made the list last year and ask if they moved the needle in a way significant enough to keep them around for another year. No one is immune from the ups and downs of this business, particularly during turbulent times. However, a career setback isn’t an automatic disqualification from consideration. Few people who make the list have not experienced their share of failure over the course of their career. When it comes to creativity and commerce, risk-taking is necessary even when some disappointment is inevitable, as Variety500 honorees can attest.

Just remember: Once you’re off the list, you can always work your way back. Maybe Variety500 will have even played a part in providing the motivation.