10 Writers and Editors Who Are Changing the National Conversation

The authors, novelists, curators and essayists you should know

Kristen Roupenian became a literary (and viral) sensation after publishing her debut short story, 'Cat Person,' in The New Yorker.

Their words have inspired new passions, given voice to the disenfranchised, shaped national conversations and held the powerful to account, all with verve and intelligence. Below, you can get to know the writers, editors and media innovators included on this year’s Adweek Creative 100:

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Ronan Farrow
Author, Journalist

This is Ronan Farrow’s year. In May, he won both the Pulitzer Prize and a National Magazine Award for his scorching series of New Yorker articles that helped fell one of Hollywood’s most powerful men: Harvey Weinstein. A month earlier, Farrow published his widely acclaimed first book, War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence, an exploration of the “collapse of American diplomacy and the abdication of global leadership.”

The son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen, Farrow demonstrated an intellectual precocity and “an extraordinary sense of public service” from an early age. At 11, he began taking classes at Bard College, graduating at 16. Farrow’s diverse resume includes interning on John Kerry’s presidential campaign and working for Richard Holbrooke, President Obama’s special representative for Afghanistan at the State Department. While in the Sudan volunteering for Unicef, Farrow contracted a bone infection, necessitating multiple operations, leaving him either in a wheelchair or on crutches, and still he entered Yale law school at 18.

Next up for the unstoppable Farrow: a three-year development deal with HBO and another book, Catch and Kill, which will expand his investigations into sexual misconduct and “the machine deployed by powerful men to silence survivors of abuse and threaten reporters chasing those survivors’ stories.”

Says Farrow: “Journalism is the one explicitly constitutionally protected profession we have in this country, and I think there’s a good reason for that. If we want to hold the powerful accountable, and try to ensure that the most vulnerable people in this country have a voice, one of the best tools to do that is through reporting.”
A.J. Katz

Roxane Gay
Author, Cultural Critic, Essayist

Gay’s debut novel, An Untamed State, exploring the intertwined themes of the immigrant experience, race, privilege and sexual violence, marked her ascent as an important literary voice. Her follow-up collection of essays, Bad Feminist, marked her arrival.

Known for her distinctive, inclusive, raw and not-holding-anything-back style, Gay’s 2017 New York Times best-seller, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, discussed fatness from the perspective of an overweight person and not after the triumph of weight loss. “Most of the time when people write about fatness, they write about fatness after having lost a significant amount of weight,” she says. “But I didn’t have that story, so I was interested in just writing a different kind of story.”

Last year, she also published the short story collection, Difficult Women, and created her first comic book, World of Wakanda. “It was really exciting to be able to write black, gay women into the Marvel canon,” she says.

Prolific as well as insightful, Gay is at work crafting a book of writing advice, an essay collection about TV and culture, a YA novel called The Year I Learned Everything and adapting her first novel into a film with director Gina Prince-Bythewood.

Her advice to writers? “You have to be relentless and you have to find a way to grit your way through all that rejection. … It’s OK to feel dejected and hopeless, as long as you don’t let that keep you from continuing to write and continuing to try and put yourself out there.”
Nicole Ortiz

Melisse Gelula
Co-founder, Chief Content Officer, Well + Good

Before kale was cool and wellness gurus were the rage, Gelula spotted the nascent trend in launching a national wellness and lifestyle brand.

This story first appeared in the June 11, 2018, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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