and entrepreneur. As a performer, she has earned a Grammy Award and five nominations; an Emmy Award nomination; and an Academy Award nomination. In fact, this past summer, she was a headliner at the famed Hollywood Bowl, performing a number of standards from her new jazz album, Trav’lin Light. Her recent albums and motion picture work have served to bolster her media company, Flavor Unit. It has co-produced her last two albums and films such as The Perfect Holiday, a new release starring Terrence Howard and Gabrielle Union; the highly acclaimed HBO film Life Support; and the comedy Beauty Shop. She’s also the ever-present spokesperson for Pizza Hut and Cover Girl Cosmetics, where she developed products for women of color, the Cover Girl Queen Collection. Owens celebrates full-figured women with her other business venture: her Curvation line of intimates and apparel.—Carolyn M. Brown
Lisa Pickrum, Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer / RLJ Cos. / 37. Why she’s hot: She’s one of the right-hand executives Bob Johnson counts on to move his business empire forward. Pickrum manages financial operations, strategic partnerships, and new business development for RLJ’s portfolio of companies. Over the past two years, she has been instrumental in forging a number of lucrative partnerships, including the creation of a private equity fund with The Carlyle Group and a joint venture with Deutsche Bank Asset Management that operates a hedge fund of funds. Recently, Pickrum finished an assignment as interim CEO of RolloverSystems, a company that sells technology and services for retirement plan administration in which RLJ was the largest shareholder.
Shonda Rhimes, TV Producer, Writer, Director / 37. Why she’s hot: Rhimes is the triple threat–screenwriter, director, and executive producer–behind Grey’s Anatomy, the top-rated ABC drama. In fact, Grey’s is one of the network’s top moneymakers, holding the position as the most expensive show on prime-time television: Advertisers pay $419,000 per 30-second spot. This year, Rhimes and ABC are trying to make lightning strike twice with Grey’s spin-off, Private Practice, starring Kate Walsh, Taye Diggs, and Audra McDonald. The new series is the top-rated program on Wednesday nights, snaring the coveted 18- to 49-year-old viewer demographic. Rhimes is the only African American with two prime-time dramas currently on air, and the casts of the two shows are refreshingly diverse as well.
Usher Raymond IV, Singer, Actor / 29. Why he’s hot: The winner of five Grammy Awards, this R&B crooner has also planted flags in film, television, and on Broadway—in 2006, he was one of the st
ars of the hit musical Chicago. But he’s also a serious businessman. This fall, he launched a line of fragrances available at Macy’s. He also owns a piece of the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA franchise; controls the record label US Records; and operates the Grape Restaurant, which he opened in Atlanta this year. His New Look Foundation raised funds to help rebuild neighborhoods on the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina, including partnering with Armani Exchange to create limited edition “Love 4 Life” dog tags. Fans anxiously anticipate the follow-up