40 Next: Franklin Leonard

In celebration of our 40th anniversary, Black Enterprise is taking a look both forward and backward at the world of black business. Our list of 40 Next celebrates the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders.

These BE Nexters—those 21–35 years old making a measurable impact within their respective business, organization, industry, or field—are standouts in the areas of entrepreneurship, corporate America, academia, nonprofit, the arts, and the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). And they prove every day that “business as usual” is not so usual. For them, leveraging expertise in one area to maximize an opportunity in another is standard operating procedure.

Using the legacy of their business predecessors to forge their own way, this new generation of leadership accepts the torch without trepidation. But the commonality between then and now is that success still takes a focused, strategic, and passionate mindset. Here, we introduce you to one of our 40 Next.

Franklin Leonard, 31
Director of Development, Universal Pictures
Founder/Publisher The Black List, Los Angeles

Leonard reviews scripts for Universal that will give the studio the best creative and financial return and shepherds them through the process, from concept to completion. But Leonard’s real draw is The Black List, an annual publication he created in 2004 that highlights Hollywood’s most popular unproduced screenplays—material that has potential to make it to the big screen. List alum include: Juno, which won the Academy Award for Best Original screenplay, and Will Smith’s critically acclaimed Seven Pounds.