In the year 2017, the entertainment industry has become completely different as it has been in years past. From many cultures and many walks of life, this list highlights just a small sample of that diversity! (This list is not in any particular order.)
1. Spike Lee
Spike Lee has been making splashes in the entertainment business for decades and has shown no sign of stopping. Since 1983, Lee has been an inherent voice for many communities and cultures and continues to show his influence to this day. Whether it’s working on his next feature film, curating the next NBA 2K soundtrack or showing his support at New York’s most popular sporting events, Lee will always be cemented as one of America’s most creative and inspirational filmmakers.
2. Issa Rae
Issa Rae first came into the scene of entertainment when her webseries, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl took off on YouTube in 2011. After going viral, Rae began working on her TV series, Insecure, premiering in 2016. The show is centered around a contemporary black woman, highlighting parts of everyday life that seem to go unnoticed. Rae’s show has become so popular within the millennial generation because it is the closest representation to the modern day black woman. There is drama, love and jokes we can actually relate to! Rae has done an incredible job appealing to the generation that watches the most.
3. Chance the Rapper
Chance the Rapper has been achieving mainstream fame since 2016 with his release of his third mixtape, Coloring Book. He’s turned many heads in this past year winning three Grammy awards, features on many chart-topping songs, rumors of collaboration with other artists, an upcoming film and especially giving back to his Chicago community and fans. Expect Chancelor Bennett to continue his rise of fame as one of the world’s most electrifying entertainers. Check out the music video to his song “Same Drugs” above.
4. Laverne Cox
Primetime Emmy Award nominee, Laverne Cox, is the first openly transgender person to be nominated in the acting category. Cox is mostly known for her role as Sophia Burset on the Netflix original series, Orange Is The New Black. While being funny and quirky on the show, her role allows viewers to see and actually feel empathy for a real transgender person. Her platform on the show has given Cox the opportunities to become the first of many’s. She is the first openly transgender woman to win a DayTime Emmy Award for executive producing, Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word. She is also the first openly transgender person to have her own wax figure at Madame Tussauds. Cox has become a major inspirational figure not only for LGBTs but for the African-American community as well.
5. Manny Pacquiao
Manny Pacquiao is a man of many talents.While he’s become one of boxing’s most prized and respected fighters, he’s also wrote and produced music albums, plays in the Philippines Basketball Association, acted in many movies and TV shows and continues to serve as a Filipino Politician since 2010. Pacquiao will continues to box and will always be the Most Interesting Man in the Philippines.
6. Adrienne Bailon
Adrienne Bailon, of Puerto Rican descent, came to the scene back in 1999 as founder and singer of the all girl group 3LW. Best known for their hit song No More (Baby I’ma Do Right), her rise to fame did not stop there. Shortly after, Bailon, also became a part of Disney Channel’s Cheetah Girls. The Cheetah Girls also opened doors for her in the acting world. She starred in films like Coach Carter and All You’ve Got. Bailon is recently married and is now one of the hosts of the most popular talk shows, The Real.
7. Aziz Ansari
Since 2007, Aziz Ansari has been continuously successful in his acting and stand-up comedy career. Ansari got his start in acting with MTV’s Human Giant while he was receiving critical acclaim for his early stand-up career. In 2009, he played as Tom Haverford in the NBC hit television series Parks And Recreation until its finish in 2015. Now, Ansari is the star of Master of None, a Netflix Original show written by himself and Parks and Recreation writer Alan Young.
8. Taraji P. Henson
How could we forget Baby Boy? It seems to always be playing when the BET channel is on. Taraji P Henson rose to fame through this 2001 film. Henson played Yvette, a 25 year old woman deeply in love with Jody, who just can’t seem to get it right. Henson’s roles have since then become more diverse. She has starred in both movies and shows, gaining many awards and nominations. Henson won the BET award for best actress in her most recent movie, Hidden Figures. She continues to keep the crowd wanting more and never letting us miss her for too long. Her current role as Cookie off of the television show Empire has made her the first African-American woman to win the Critics Choice Television Award for Best Actress.
9. Mindy Kaling
Vera Mindy Chokalingam, better known as Mindy Kaling, has been in the New York stand-up and acting scene since 2002. Kaling is best known for her acting and directing work on the legendary television series The Office. Through her contract with The Office, Kaling was able to score a deal for her own show, which then became The Mindy Project. The Mindy project, written and starred by Kaling herself, was a huge success on FOX and has now been moved over to Hulu. Even with the move to Hulu, she still is one of the most popular primetime actresses around.
10. Childish Gambino
Donald McKinley Glover, otherwise known as Childish Gambino, is one of the most versatile entertainers today. He is recognized for his acting, music, writing, producing, comedy and directing. At age 23, Glover was hired to write for the NBC sitcom 30 Rock. He currently stars in the show he created, Atlanta. He is said to be the new voice of Simba in the remake of The Lion King (2019). Music wise, he has self released many albums and mixtapes until signing with Glassnote Records in 2011. His latest hit has been Redbone which appeared in the popular film Get Out and peaked at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.