From entertainment and technology to politics and finance, these 50 top playersunder 40 represent our editors’ picks

The Hot List

he was a vice president of private equity at Citigroup and an analyst at Goldman Sachs.

Tavis Smiley
Entrepreneur Age: 39
Under the umbrella of The Tavis Smiley Group, Smiley is a branding powerhouse. He has found his niche in working to uplift, inform, and inspire
African Americans through The Tavis Smiley Show, which airs on National Public Radio, and various businesses including The Tavis Smiley Foundation, Smiley Books, and Tavistalks.com. Also, listeners can hear his commentary on “The Smiley Report,” broadcast on nearly 60 radio stations nationwide.

Andrea Nelson Meigs
Motion Picture Talent Agent Age: 35
You could say acting is in her blood. As a child actress, Nelson Meigs says her dad told her agents typically net 10%–15% of an actor’s deal. So when an opportunity at Creative Artists Agency (whose clients include Tom Cruise and Halle Berry), came along, it called for serious consideration. “I thought I would become an entertainment lawyer,” says Nelson Meigs, “but when I came [to CAA], I realized [being an agent] is just enough business in terms of negotiating contracts, and it’s also creative because you’re reading a lot of scripts, and you [discuss] what’s best for your clients.” Along with a team of agents, Nelson Meigs brokered Beyoncé Knowles’ acting deals and roles for Cedric “The Entertainer” in the Barbershop films.

Will Smith
Actor, Producer & Recording Artist Age: 35
From Grammy award winning recording artist to top-grossing actor, Smith’s career and influence in Hollywood have skyrocketed. He made $20 million per film, plus a percentage of the total gross, for his roles in Men in Black II and Bad Boys II. One of his latest endeavors with his company, Overbrook Entertainment, is executive producing All of Us, a prime-time sitcom.

Three Doctors Foundation
Physicians Ages: 30
Growing up on the tough streets of Newark, New Jersey, Sampson Davis, M.D.; Rameck Hunt, M.D.; and George Jenkins, D.M.D., made a pact to stick together and earn medical degrees. They formed the nonprofit organization The Three Doctors Foundation Inc. in 2000 to inspire other inner-city children, through education, mentoring, and volunteerism to persevere and be successful in their endeavors.

Omar Wasow
Website Director Age: 32
Unlike other Web ventures that rose, crested, crashed, and burned, Wasow’s BlackPlanet.com has weathered the storm. Today, it’s one of the busiest corners of cyberspace for news, chats, and networking. BlackPlanet.com is consistently rated the top Website for African Americans. Wasow, dedicated to bridging the digital divide, also maintains a regular presence in the media as a technology guru.

Pharrell Williams
Music Producer & Entrepreneur Age: 30
Among the hip-hop set, Williams is considered a hit factory. He and partner, Chad Hugo, co-founders of Star Trak Entertainment, who call themselves The Neptunes, have produced top-selling tunes in myriad of musical genres for chart-topping acts like Nelly, Jay-Z, Britney Spears, Mystikal, Usher, Snoop Dogg, and Busta Rhymes. In 2002, Virginia Beach, Virginia-bred Williams and Hugo brought their Star Trak label to Arista Records and designed a deal where they sign and develop talent. In August of the same year, The Neptunes were named producers of the year

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