In an Era of Disruption, These 9 Innovators Are Shaping the Future of Media and Entertainment

Meet Adweek's Young Influentials

From a YouTube sensation making her TV debut to the late-night producer who’s bringing Carpool Karaoke to Apple, these are the Young Influentials making their mark in media and entertainment. For more up-and-coming talent in tech, brands and marketing, check out our full list.
—Emma Bazilian

Ben Winston
Executive producer, The Late Late Show With James Corden 

In addition to helping James Corden create must-see moments every night on The Late Late Show, executive producer Ben Winston, 35, oversees a pair of programs recently spun off from Corden’s most popular segments: Carpool Karaoke, which is wrapping its first season on Apple Music, and Drop the Mic, premiering Oct. 24 on TBS. (As if that’s not enough, Winston is also executive producing Bruno Mars’ first prime-time special, airing Nov. 29 on CBS.)

“We knew instantly the first time we did this, that this was too good just to be a segment on a late-night television show,” says Winston of Drop the Mic. “It’s actually better as a half-hour than as seven minutes squeezed into” the Late Late Show. Meanwhile, Winston is also busy turning down offers for other Late Late Show spinoffs: “We don’t want to make something unless it’s great.”—Jason Lynch

Meridith Valiando Rojas
CEO and co-founder, DigiTour Media

As the producer of live events starring some of the biggest names from platforms like Musical.ly and YouTube, DigiTour Media has given more than half a million screen-addicted Gen Z-ers the chance to connect with their favorite digital stars IRL.

“About half of our stars have a musical element to them, but a huge category for us are the ones who don’t,” says DigiTour co-founder and CEO Meridith Valiando Rojas, 30, a former A&R executive. “My job is to figure out how to create something on stage for them.”

So far this year, the company has led 150 events for digital talent like Loren Gray (6.7 million Instagram followers) and twins Brooklyn and Bailey McKnight (4.5 million YouTube subscribers), with past sponsors including Coca-Cola, Delta, Verizon and Google. Valiando Rojas hopes to double the number of live events in 2018.

Valiando Rojas founded DigiTour in 2010 with her husband, Chris Rojas, and since then, the company has raised over $12.5 million in funding from investors including Viacom, Ryan Seacrest, Condé Nast and others. This past June, it formed a record company with Disney Music Group that will focus on signing social-first talent.

“We love identifying talent early on and contributing to their growth,” says Valiando Rojas, who helped propel Musical.ly sensation Baby Ariel to stardom with a 2016 cross-country tour and was responsible for “Alex from Target’s” extended stint with fame—he even read fan fiction starring himself on stage. —Sami Main

Issa Rae
Creator, star, executive producer, HBO’s Insecure

Photo by Chris Loupos for Adweek; Styling: Jason Rembert; Hair: Felicia Leatherwood; Makeup: Joanna Simkin

Don’t be surprised if you see Issa Rae running a television channel or her own movie studio one day. Those are just two of the things the 32-year-old Rae, cover star of our Young Influential’s issue, told Adweek she’d like to accomplish. And it’s easy to believe that will happen—Rae built her career herself, creating a successful YouTube show, Awkward Black Girl, that was viewed and beloved by millions.

“I want to figure out how and the best way to use my voice,” says Rae. “Me vocalizing what I wanted to see, it basically changed my life, and I’d say even the course of representation indirectly. And I just want to see what else I can do just by speaking up and speaking out.”

See more of our feature with Rae here.

Arlie Sisson
vp, emerging products, Condé Nast

This story first appeared in the Oct. 9, 2017, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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