Starbucks, which owns a nascent record label. AGE: 37
Nick Cannon, Actor & Producer
Why he’s hot: Renaissance men are getting younger and younger. Take Nick Cannon, for instance. He has six film projects in the works; a production and film company called Mr. Renaissance Entertainment, a new show on MTV, Nick Cannon Presents, Wild ‘N Out; and he recently released “Can I Live?” a controversial single about abortion that appears on his new CD.
But Cannon’s not new to the small screenâ€“or the big one for that matter. He’s spent his entire adult life entertaining. He set out for Hollywood at 16 and landed standup gigs at famed comedy clubs the Improv, the Laugh Factory, and the Comedy Store. He became a regular on the Nickelodeon cable television channel, hosting, co-hosting, and guest starring in a number of shows. He hit the big time in 2002 with the starring role in the movie Drumline, in which he plays a gifted but rebellious drummer from Harlem. Cannon’s last three filmsâ€“Love Don’t Cost a Thing, Shall We Dance, and Underclassmanâ€“grossed more than $100 million. And he not only starred in Underclassman, he also wrote and executive produced it. Cannon recently turned his attention to creating big-screen opportunities for other African American actors and actresses, and is currently executive producing two other films. AGE: 25
Lisa Ellis, General Manager, Acting President SONY URBAN MUSIC
Why she’s hot: Lisa Ellis, general manager and acting president of Sony Urban Music, is on a short list of black executives at major labels. Ellis oversees the division’s day-to-day operations in a role that encompasses A&R, publicity, marketing, promotion, and online content. She also works with the company’s U.S. labels on matters relating to urban music. Sony BMG Music Entertainment, with close to $4 billion in annual revenues, is the No. 2 recording company in the world.
Ellis previously served as vice president of strategic marketing and music licensing at Sony Music, where she created licensing campaigns for various artists, including Destiny’s Child. Now one of the most powerful African American women in the industry, Ellis joined the Columbia Records family in 1995 as a local promotion manager after bolstering her career in the marketing departments of Pepsi-Cola, CBS Radio, and Reebok International.
Entrenched in the business for a solid decade now, Ellis has been credited with turning the once-unknown Fugees and R&B singer Maxwell into household names. More recently, the power broker has put her stamp on rising stars like neo-soul singer John Legend and R&B artist Amerie. Ellis notes that finding quality artists who can sing, write, and perform live is a constant challenge. “It is easy to find singers,” she says. “I
t is harder to find stars.” AGE: 35
RALPH V. GILLES Product Design Director, Truck Studio DAIMLERCHRYSLER CORP.
Why he’s hot: Ralph Gilles is the hotshot who spearheaded the well-executed design of the Chrysler 300, clearly the most influential American car today. The alluring sedan propelled auto sales to record heights and captured more than 30 awards. In July, Gilles was