trying to make it like everyone else.”
The show became the fastest-growing comedy on network television during its 2000—01 season and played a major part in saving UPN, which was on a downward spiral at the time. Before the merger of UPN and The WB, Brock Akil had already secured the green light from current CW president Dawn Ostroff for The Game, a show about the wives and girlfriends of football players. Her husband, Salim Akil, directed the pilot. The husband-and-wife team developed their own company, Happy Camper Productions, to create independent films. — Nicole Marie Richardson
Tyra Banks Founder & CEO,Bankable Productions o Age: 33
Why she’s powerful: As creator, host, and executive producer of America’s Next Top Model and The Tyra Banks Show, Banks is a force in the industry. Under her production company, Bankable Productions, The Tyra Banks Show has managed to capture more than 2 million women aged 18 to 34 each week, making it the No. 1 show in first-run syndication with this highly-coveted audience. She also enjoyed her most successful finale yet for ANTM: This past December, the season-ender for Cycle 7 marked the biggest night in the new CW network’s history.
Lorrie Bartlett Partner, The Gersh Agency o Age: 40
Why she’s powerful: Bartlett is the first African American to make partner at a major talent and literary agency. She has helped boost the star power of actors such as S. Epatha Merkerson (Lackawanna Blues, Law & Order), Miranda Otto (Lord of the Rings), Djimon Hounsou (In America, Gladiator, Amistad, Blood Diamond), Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer), and Dennis Haysbert ( 24, The Unit). Bartlett not only negotiates lucrative deals for her clients, she helps them develop their passion projects and keeps them in high demand by studio and network executives.
Halle Berry Actress-Producer o Age: 40
Why she’s powerful: Berry has ascended to an elite group in Hollywood — an actress-producer who can influence the approval process. And it’s not just because of her cover-girl looks. Her 24 films, including the popular X-Men franchise, have produced box office receipts of $1.4 billion. The first African American woman to win a Best Actress Oscar, Berry has been a force behind the cameras as well since 1999. She served as executive producer for the HBO films Introducing Dorothy Dandridge and Lackawanna Blues. Berry’s other productions include Compositions in Black and White, a biopic of Philippa Schuyler, a child prodigy pianist in the 1940s.
Suzanne de Passe CEO, de Passe Entertainment o Age: 58 Why she’s powerful: A 40-year entertainment veteran, de Passe has made millions for networks and the syndicated market by producing fare for diverse audiences. Currently, she serves as executive producer of Showtime at the Apollo, the nationally-syndicated weekly variety program, and the annual Black Movie Awards, which airs on TNT. Last year, de Passe joined forces with Zane, the best-selling author of black erotic fiction, to form de Passe/Zane Entertainment, which plans to produce at least six films per year. Their first project will be based on Zane’s novel Addicted, which is