20 Content Creators Who Are Setting the Bar for Creativity in 2016

Podcasters, video stars, VR pioneers and more

At a time when so many people call themselves "content creators," who are the creatives truly making the most of modern media?

From video and podcasts to VR and visual effects, today's content world is a stupifyingly massive playground where the rules are rewritten daily.

As part of Adweek's annual Creative 100—a list of the 100 most creative professionals in America—we gathered totgether 20 of the most ingenious and entertaining content creators of 2016:

 

Lilly Singh

YouTube Star

Los Angeles

Better known to her fans as IISuperwomanII, Singh is one of YouTube's fastest-growing stars with 9.2 million subscribers and 1.3 billion video views. Initially making her mark with parody-based skits involving her Indian parents, the 27-year-old is increasingly becoming known for mainstream projects, including a world tour for her rap music last year dubbed "A Trip to Unicorn Island" and a deal with makeup brand Smashbox to create and sell a red shade of lipstick. She's worked with Coca-Cola to create buzzy content and starred in YouTube's ongoing advertising campaign, which pitches the site's most popular homegrown creators. In May, she even hosted the video giant's annual Brandcast event to pitch brands on why they should shift significant television ad budgets to digital. "Gone are the days of testing this platform," she told a packed room of advertisers. "That is so 2013. YouTube is proven, and the audience is here."

—Lauren Johnson

 

Quinta Brunson

Writer / Actor / Producer

BuzzFeed Motion Pictures, Los Angeles

If you've ever watched one of BuzzFeed's many viral videos, chances are you've seen Brunson. With a comedic background from The Second City, Chicago, she is among the media company's top talents in consistently cranking out provoking and entertaining digital content. The Philadelphia native joined BuzzFeed Motion Pictures in early 2015, and within a year she became the company's first producer to sign an exclusive contract as one of its development partners. Brunson writes, directs, produces and stars in her own videos, including The Girl Who's Never Been on a Nice Date series, and she's in the process of selling a 12-episode sitcom based on another hit series called Broke. "Traditional media has yet to truly find the beauty in shareable and relatable content as an asset or even a promotional tool," she tells Adweek, "and with valid reason. It's just such an advantage we have in the digital space."

—L.J.

 

Scott Bradlee

Founder / Arranger / Pianist

Postmodern Jukebox, New York City

New York's Postmodern Jukebox is a musical collective in the best sense of the phrase. Founder Bradlee and his rotating band of classically trained pranksters have been reworking contemporary pop hits into smoky serenades since 2011. The project started in a Queens, N.Y., basement, and its current playlist runs the gamut from lowbrow to high society. What might lead one to transport the White Stripes into the Dixieland Era or turn "All About That Bass" into a soaring, New Orleans-style romp? "Growing up, I loved the music styles of the past," Bradlee tells Adweek. "While my friends were listening to Top 40 radio, I was listening to Duke Ellington and Ray Charles." The group's YouTube channel has more than 500 million views, and a North American tour is underway, with global appearances to follow.

—Patrick Coffee

 

Kai Hasson

Co-Founder / Creative Director

Portal A, Los Angeles

Hasson started Portal A, a content studio headquartered in San Francisco and Los Angeles, in a basement with childhood friends Zach Blume and Nate Houghteling. The three still run it together, and since 2010, the studio has created buzz-worthy content for brands like YouTube, Twitter, Google, Lenovo, NBCUniversal and Universal Pictures. That includes YouTube's annual recap YouTube Rewind, which Hasson says defines the studio's brand creatively. "Directing that project has given me the opportunity to meet some of the most talented people in the world of digital content— and it's also aged me 15 years," Hasson says. But the effort for such Herculean projects is worth it, he says: "We spend each moment of the day trying to create work we'll be proud of for years to come."