Every year, Variety seeks to identify the next generation of leaders in the entertainment business, looking for representatives in the creative community, film, TV, music and digital. This year’s group has a heavy New York focus: We selected executives from forward thinking companies such as Spotify, Group Nine and Endeavor Audio, as well as writers and producers in late night comedy, plus agents and managers who help put the deals together that keep the entertainment business humming.
“The Daily Show” alum isn’t afraid to say something that’s going to tick people off, but also might make them laugh a little bit. Minhaj, who has already won two Peabody awards, brings a global perspective to “Patriot Act,” his weekly Netflix series. “We’re living in a time where art is starting to reflect the reality of the country,” Minhaj says. “A lot of unheard voices are now getting an opportunity to be heard, and I think it’s so cool that institutions like ‘The Daily Show’ and other late-night shows have all of these amazing, different voices that we would not have heard from 10 years ago.”
Only an Oscar away from EGOT status, Platt has already established himself as a force in Hollywood. After earning acclaim for his Broadway run of “Dear Evan Hansen,” he successfully transitioned to the world of Netflix, where he executive produced and starred in this fall’s “The Politician” for Ryan Murphy and Co. “Ryan had faith in my ability even before I had faith in myself. He sees things in me before I see them. And one of them was the ability to have a seat at the table creatively and feel some sort of ownership over the show.”
WRITER, “LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS,” 40
Ruffin became the first African-American woman to write for a late-night network talk show when she joined “Late Night With Seth Meyers” in 2014, and she regularly appears on camera in recurring bits called “Amber Says What?” and “Jokes Seth Can’t Tell.” “News will drop at 10 a.m. and [fellow writer] Jenny Hagel and I will have something ready to read by 11 a.m.,” Ruffin says. “It’s the two of us sitting shoulder to shoulder passing the keyboard back and forth as fast as we can.” “The Amber Ruffin Show” is in the works for NBC’s Peacock streaming platform, and she feels “insanely proud” of her side gig: writing musicals. Those include “King of Kong,” “Bigfoot” and new material for “The Wiz!”
FEATURED PLAYER, “SNL,” 29
Yang moved in front of the camera this season on “Saturday Night Live,” becoming the first Chinese-American cast member in its long history and making headlines for portraying China’s Trade Daddy and Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang. Previously one of the writers behind the scenes, he cites former “SNL” writers-turned-performers James Anderson and Paula Pell as the partial inspiration for his career path. “My only plan coming in as a writer was to have this engineer/tourist’s fascination with how the show works,” Yang says. “I’m still very much in that information-gathering mode, and I hope I can stay in that for as long as I can.”