In New York City, power is not just about corner offices or penthouse views overlooking the Hudson River. Money still talks, but it’s more important to show what you’re doing with your influence — and your Instagram followers. The old boys’ club has expired. New York in the 21st century is increasingly made up of diverse, innovative and creative voices pushing for everything from gender parity to LGBTQ rights. It’s a social revolution that’s often at odds with the current administration in the White House.
That’s where Variety’s annual New Power of New York List comes in. We’ve searched from the Bronx to Brooklyn Heights (with a short stop on Broadway) to find the 50 movers and shakers who are changing the face of the five boroughs and beyond. These activists, artists, storytellers and tastemakers represent who really matters in 2018.
By Samantha Bee
“There are few journalists whose work can cause a palpable ripple in the force. That moment cooking dinner, when your spine straightens, you think,“I should probably check in with the world,” and there it is — another breaking story from Ronan Farrow. Onions scatter. The oil sputters in the pan. Everybody’s hungry. Too bad for now — gotta read to the end. Whoo boy.”
Read the full essay by Bee, host of “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee” on TBS, here.
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By Joe Biden
“As Meghan McCain climbed the podium to give her eulogy for her father, John McCain, I watched her from the front row in the magnificent Washington Cathedral alongside the other pallbearers. Meghan had just lived through one of the most harrowing experiences one can go through: watching a loved one lose his life to one of the most brutal, unrelenting, unforgiving cancers one can suffer — glioblastoma of the brain. I know because just three years ago I lost my son Beau to the same disease. And I know what it does to those who suffer from the disease — as well as to the family and loved ones who watch its cruel progression.”
Read the full essay by Biden, 47th vice president of the United States, here.
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By Kim Kardashian West
“I’m honored to call Van Jones both a friend and a mentor. His commitment to helping those in need is something every person — regardless of their view — can admire. It’s undeniable the way his show sheds a light on so many social issues that desperately need visibility. And as founder of The Dream Corps, Van creates opportunities for people who have been wronged by our flawed justice system.”
Read the full essay by Kardashian West, executive producer and star of E!’s “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” here.
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By Jake Gyllenhaal
“I first met Ryan many years ago, and he struck me immediately as quick and warm and thoughtful, a gentleman in an era of foppish putzes, the unlikely love child of Mel Brooks and Dorothy Parker and Gary Cooper. He was also taller than me. Against my wishes, we became close friends.
Read the full essay by Gyllenhaal, actor and founder of Nine Stories Productions, here.
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By Anne Hathaway
“Nora Lum — aka Awkwafina — is like that magical place that opens on your corner which you stumble upon one day, that place that catches you off guard and takes your breath away by how refreshing, humble, original, authentic and just awesome it is, at how obviously excellent and delightful in its one-of-a-kindness, at how of-the-moment and timeless, how it seemed to come out of nowhere (but the backstory is incredible) … and you just know its anonymity will be short-lived. And indeed, within a very short amount of time, everyone sees what you were lucky enough to see early on, the spot blows up, everyone loves what is being served and everyone keeps coming back for more.”
Read the full essay by Hathaway, actress and U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador, here.
“Every once in a while there is a zeitgeistian lightning strike. There may not be a clearer example in recent history than the introduction to the world of Timothée Chalamet. Don’t believe me? Try this fun social experiment: Next time you are in a crowd of people (millennials to baby boomers, it doesn’t matter), point in any direction and yell,“Oh, my God — it’s Timothée Chalamet!” This can also be used as an unethical life hack if you want to reduce the amount of people in front of you in a long line.”
Read the full essay by Hammer, star of Broadway’s “Straight White Men,” here.
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By Michelle Williams
“Hey Cardiiii! Owwwwwww!!!! I didn’t hesitate when asked to write this tribute for you. I fell in love with your authenticity. I love that you have been so real in sharing your struggles, pain, excitement and triumphs. You show the world, that yes, you’re doing good and are on top of the world, but you are still human. Cardi, I encourage you to remember the why!”
Read the full essay by Williams, former member of Destiny’s Child, here.
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By Alan Cumming
“I first met Monica at a party in 2000. It was at the height of the prurient madness that had recently enveloped her. People were clambering over from the neighboring banquette just to touch her hair. Nowadays when we go out to dinner people come over to thank her and say how moving and important her TED Talk was to them.”
Read the full essay by Cumming, seen on the CBS series “Instinct,” here.
“Radhika Jones. Today I honor you. For the contributions you’ve made to entertain- ment and the world. By putting someone who looks like me on the cover of Vanity Fair you said to the world: Women like me matter. Black women matter. Gay black women matter. Masculine-presenting black women matter. A girl raised by a single mother on the South Side of Chicago matters. Thank you for forcing the world to hold my gaze.”
Read the full essay by Waithe, creator of the Showtime series “The Chi,” here.
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By Lachlan Murdoch
“Fox News Channel ended last year as No. 1 in all of cable for the second consecutive year and is on track to dominate again in 2018. The network continues to cultivate a deep bond with its audience that is far bigger than any one election cycle or any single on-air personality or show. A key driver of this remarkable success is Suzanne Scott, whose promotion to CEO earlier this year capped a stellar run as president of programming. Over her more than two decades with FNC, Suzanne has worked nearly every shift, honing her keen understanding of the network’s audience and its connection with the brand.”
Read the full essay by Murdoch, executive chairman of 21st Century Fox, here.
“To know Zachary Quinto’s work is to know how strong and stoic he can be. How through his stillness, he can invoke intimidation and fear and power. To get to know Zach, the man off-screen, off-stage, is to know something different. He is still powerful and charming, and he can scare the hell out of you with one laser-like stare, but he’s also silly. There’s an impish quality to him that is unexpected and lovely and warm.”
Read the full essay by Rannells, author of the upcoming “Too Much Is Not Enough: A Memoir of Fumbling Toward Adulthood,” here.
Illustration: Hellovon; Photo: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/Shutterstock
By Jean-Marc Vallée
“‘Zoë est tombée dedans quand elle était petite.’ That is what we say in French when someone makes something look easy, when someone is predisposed to excel in something. We all know that something is plural in Zoë’s case. What she already has accomplished at her young age is well known and is one of the reasons why she’s on this list. She walks in somewhere, and we get it: This is a person who loves to be creative from head to toe, whether she’s onstage, on a screen, or in her personal life.”
Read the full essay by Vallée, director of the first seasons of HBO’s “Big Little Lies” and “Sharp Objects,” here.
Illustration: Helloven; Photo: Chelsea Lauren/BEI/Shutterstock
On the slopes, Kenworthy took home a silver medal at the 2014 Olympics. But more important, by coming out of the closet, he became an overnight role model for the LGBTQ community. And his social media feed is a must-read for updates on his New York life, boyfriend and puppies.
The veteran activist is the face of a global reckoning via the #MeToo movement, which she founded in 2006 and which garnered international recognition in 2017, following the Harvey Weinstein allegations. Burke has dedicated her life to supporting survivors of sexual abuse, and has inspired more change in the Hollywood workplace — and beyond — than ever before.
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Broadway’s Resonant Voice
The California-born singer-songwriter has reinvented herself as a theater-world superstar. Her musical “Waitress,” for which she wrote the music and lyrics, has been running on Broadway since 2016, and this year she co-hosted the Tonys. She’s a Tony and Grammy nominee for “Waitress” and just added an Emmy nod to the tally, for her performance in NBC’s Brooklyn-filmed “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert.”
Strike A “Pose”
The song-and-dance star has been a luminescent presence on New York City stages for years, winning a Tony for “Kinky Boots.” His profile got a lot larger with his turn as enigmatic emcee Pray Tell on “Pose” — FX’s groundbreaking drama about LGBTQ life in 1980s NYC. It’s a TV role worthy of his significant talents.
Democratic Wonder Woman
The 28-year-old political phenom from the Bronx shocked the establishment by defeating 10-term incumbent Joe Crowley in the New York primary election. The self-described Democratic socialist is unabashedly championing a liberal agenda that is fueling hopes for a “blue wave” in the midterm elections.
The New Clint Eastwood?
The former star of “The Office” left Dunder Mifflin firmly in the rearview mirror thanks to directing and starring in “A Quiet Place,” the spooky thriller that dominated the spring box office to the tune of $332.6 million globally. Paramount quickly greenlit a sequel, and Krasinski scored again as the lead of Amazon’s “Jack Ryan.”
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Marvelous Mrs. Hollywood
The 27-year-old actress picked up a lead actress Emmy and Golden Globe for Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” As a jilted wife whose crumbling marriage inspires her to become an unlikely stand-up star, Brosnahan is alternately hilarious and heartbreaking.
We Are The Rhoads for Variety
Master Of The Macabre
The horror producer scored a best picture Oscar nomination for “Get Out,” backed the water-cooler favorite “Sharp Objects” and convinced Russell Crowe to play Roger Ailes in an upcoming Showtime limited series. The bicoastal Blum recently bought a sprawling townhouse in Brooklyn Heights with an eye to spending more time on the East Coast.
Trump’s Least Favorite Comic
The stand-up has had herself a whirlwind year, getting an Emmy nomination for her HBO stand-up special (“Nice Lady”), her own Netflix talk show (“The Break With Michelle Wolf”) and both controversy and praise for her set at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. And while her series was prematurely canceled, it’s safe to say that Wolf isn’t going anywhere.
The newly minted New York Times publisher became the sixth member of the Ochs-Sulzberger family to oversee the paper of record. He takes the reins at a time of great change. Print continues to decline, but the Times has successfully grown its digital subscriber base thanks to a stream of scoops about sexual harassment in Hollywood and dysfunction in the world of Trump.
New York Times
Hoda and Savannah’s EP
Tasked with overseeing the first two hours of NBC’s “Today,” Leist has her work cut out for her. She’s had to stabilize the program following the departure of Matt Lauer in the wake of sexual harassment allegations. The scandal could have sunk the show, but instead Leist now oversees mornings with Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie.
Best known for his brooding turns in “There Will Be Blood” and “Little Miss Sunshine,” Dano slid behind the camera with “Wildlife.” The finely wrought coming-of-age drama announced him as a director to watch and has been a hit with critics. Next up: Dano will face off against Ethan Hawke in the Broadway revival of “True West.”
“Drag Race” Icon
In some circles, Peppermint is far from new; she’s been turning out unforgettable drag performances across the city for years. But in 2017, she became the first trans woman finalist on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” This summer, she became the first trans woman to originate a principal role on Broadway, starring in “Head Over Heels.”
Since leaving “Saturday Night Live” in 2014, Mulaney has achieved multiple milestones that some comedians spend decades chasing. He brought an act to Broadway (“Oh, Hello”), hosted “SNL” (only the third writer to do so) and released his third comedy special (“Kid Gorgeous”), which subsequently won the Emmy for writing for a variety special.
N.Y.’s Wake-Up Call
When New Yorkers plot out their morning commutes, they turn to Stelter on TV as NY1’s traffic reporter and “Mornings on 1” host. Her in-depth reporting has never been more necessary given the city’s crumbling subway rails.
Dubbed the “Justin Bieber of food,” this wunderkind has been cooking professionally since he was 12. At 19, McGarry opened his first restaurant, Gem, an LES eatery with a multicourse tasting menu that’s earned strong reviews. The icing on the cake: “Chef Flynn,” a documentary about his rise to the top of the culinary heap.
Fox News Star
Though she’s been a familiar face to Fox News for years, Faulkner’s presence on air is booming lately. A co-host of noon panel show “Outnumbered” since its inception, she now hosts the subsequent hour — solo.
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Cary Joji Fukunaga
The “True Detective” director was the surprise choice to replace Danny Boyle on Bond 25. Fukunaga is a maestro with the camera, known for his swooning tracking shots, as evidenced in the recent Netflix sci-fi series “Maniac.” Now comes the hard part. It may be the way that James Bond likes his martinis, but the spy series hasn’t always embraced shaking things up.
As the director of the Park City darling “The Tale,” starring Laura Dern, Fox crafted a timely and powerful story based on her own experiences as the survivor of sexual abuse. HBO’s acquisition of the movie was one of the biggest deals out of Sundance, elevating Fox’s filmmaking career.
One of the youngest executives to head a major label, Perry was handed the keys to Sony Music’s crown jewel — the 130-year-old Columbia Records, with Adele, Bruce Springsteen and Beyoncé on its roster — in January, after the $150 million sale of Songs Music Publishing, in which he held an equity stake.
Courtesy of Columbia Records
‘SNL’s’ Latest Breakout
Whether it was her incisive Sarah Huckabee Sanders impression or her bust-a-move ode to Cardi B, Bryant scored some of the sketch comedy show’s biggest laughs last season. She was rewarded this year with her first best supporting actress Emmy nomination. But that’s not all. Bryant has also boosted her public profile by snagging big-screen roles in the 2018 comedy “I Feel Pretty,” alongside Amy Schumer, and last year’s Oscar-nominated “The Big Sick.” Bryant is also set to star in Hulu’s feminist comedy “Shrill” — proving that she’s the latest major breakout from a crowded ensemble.
Morning TV’s Egghead Anchor
The former moderator of “Face the Nation” was recruited for “CBS This Morning” after Charlie Rose’s firing for alleged sexual misconduct. Dickerson has found a groove with co-anchors Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell, and gets to show off his brainy side fielding the torrent of political news.
Young Jean Lee
With last summer’s “Straight White Men,” Lee became the first Asian-American woman to have a play produced on Broadway. The experimental artist has been a fixture of the downtown theater scene, but any concerns that her edges would be sanded off with the move north were quickly silenced. True to form, “Straight White Men,” a gleeful send-up of privilege and power, injected some avant-garde energy onto the musty Great White Way.
Fashion’s Favorite It Girl
Hadid has taken the global runway by storm, walking for every major designer and banking an estimated $9.5 million annually from her Maybelline campaign and her Tommy Hilfiger collection, and garnering an Instagram following that tops 40 million.
‘Queer Eye’ Fab Five
Everyone’s Favorite Nonguilty Pleasure
Fifteen years after Bravo’s original, “Queer Eye” got a streaming makeover to suit a new, social era. And, to paraphrase its remixed theme song, it just keeps getting better. The show’s stars — Antoni Porowski, Tan France, Karamo Brown, Bobby Berk and Jonathan Van Ness — earned instant rave reviews and generated countless memes for their quirky charisma and sweet camaraderie.
The Theater Queen
Broadway’s newest star turned heads with her work as a brisk café owner whose hard veneer softens when she finds lodging for the members of an Egyptian police band in “The Band’s Visit.” Lenk won a Tony Award for her performance, one of 10 that the musical earned.
Michael McGregor for Variety
“Nightline’s” New Boss
Appointed executive producer of ABC’s venerable late-night newscast in October 2017 (the youngest person ever to hold the job), Baker has begun reinventing the brand for a new generation of newshounds. The show recently produced a cable documentary on Parkland, Fla., high school activists for youth-centric cable network Freeform, an attempt to meet young viewers where they are.
Mona Scott Young
Reality TV’s Drama Queen
The producer and CEO, whose Monami Entertainment makes VH1’s massive “Love & Hip Hop” franchise, has minted a constellation of stars — none quite as enormous as Cardi B, who name-checks Scott-Young in her breakout hit “Bodak Yellow.”
Seth Meyers’ Right-Hand Woman
Now a breakout star in on-air segments, Ruffin has been with “Late Night” since 2014, when she became the first black female writer on a broadcast network late-night program.
At Island Records, Wong has played a pivotal role in the success of Shawn Mendes, Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas, Fall Out Boy, Tove Lo and others over the past seven years, and was recently elevated to chief operating officer by new label chief Darcus Beese.
The Oscar-nominated “Precious” actress and “Empire” regular keeps adding to her résumé. The latest entries: a best-selling memoir, “This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare,” and a promising turn to directing with the debut of her acclaimed short film, “The Tale of Four.” Sidibe is also returning to “American Horror Story” this season in the fan-favorite role of Queenie, the human voodoo doll, who fills viewers with fright and delight.
SilverHub for Variety/REX/Shutte
Reality TV’s Realest Designer
The fashion star opened a store in a ritzy Fifth Avenue location and dressed a whopping 17 women at the Oscars. He’s the hottest thing in haute couture, and while promoting body positivity, his looks have draped a range of icons, from Michelle Obama to Angelina Jolie to Whoopi Goldberg.
MSNBC’s Lean-In Daytime Anchor
After years selling hedge funds and credit derivatives on Wall Street, Ruhle now makes waves with a no-nonsense anchor style. She’s shown both journalistic chops and unusual empathy, and isn’t shy about speaking out on work-life balance.
Feminist Twitter Heroine
The founder and publisher of the Women and Hollywood website is an essential advocate for gender parity, shining a light on the entertainment industry’s dismal track record of fostering and promoting female talent.
Amanda Silverman and Sarah Rothman
The former 42 West publicists struck out on their own to form the Lede Co., with LA based Meredith O’Sullivan Wasson and branding partner Christine Su. They brought their impressive Rolodexes with them; their client list includes corporate giants such as Live Nation and PepsiCo, as well as celebrities like Rihanna, Dr. Dre and Charlize Theron.
The network executive behind “Love & Hip Hop” and “Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party” has revitalized MTV and VH1’s lineups. Diaz was rewarded for overseeing the turnaround with a promotion to president of programming and development at the two networks and Logo.
Music To Sony’s Ears
As one of the top executives at Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Monaco leads the company’s booming sync business on behalf of writers like Pharrell, Lady Gaga and Bob Dylan, and will help oversee the final phases of Sony’s $2.1 billion acquisition of EMI Publishing.
Sony/ATV Music Publishing
Through his investigative and hard-hitting stories in HuffPost, Ali has exposed corruption and sexual misconduct in the corridors of power in Washington D.C., and Hollywood. Ali’s reporting played a pivotal role in advancing the Harvey Weinstein story, and he had an early interview with Kathy Griffin after the controversy over her depiction of a bloodied Donald Trump head. The onetime aid to Gavin Newsom now keeps the media world on its toes through his scoops and Twitter presence.