from the trunks of their cars. Mainstream music executives noticed the upstart company after Carter collaborated on a track with Def Jam artist Foxy Brown. Roc-A-Fella took off after Dash and Carter went into partnership with Def Jam, which was founded by hip-hop pioneer Russell Simmons.
Big Break: In 1999 Roc-A-Fella’s 54-city Hard Knock Life tour took in $18 million in box office receipts, becoming one of the highest-grossing national tours in rap history.
LISA E. DAVIS
Title: Partner, Frankfurt, Garbus, Kurnit, Klein & Selz PC
Education: B.A., Harvard University; J.D., NYU School of Law
Why She’s Powerful: Davis is a partner in a paramount New York media and entertainment law firm, which represents prominent actors, authors, filmmakers, film distribution companies, and magazines. Davis is a pro bono member of the board of trustees of East Harlem School at Exodus House.
Career Track: Davis worked as a law clerk for Judge Constance Baker Motley (1985–1986). She also worked as a litigation associate at Kramer, Levin, Naftalis, Kamen & Frankel from 1986 until 1988.
Big Break: NYU classmate Loretha Jones (now a producer) and filmmaker Spike Lee (a Brooklyn neighbor and fellow NYU graduate) were instrumental in getting Davis in the door at Frankfurt and Garbus.
SUZANNE DE PASSE
Title: Chairman and CEO, de Passe Entertainment
Education: Syracuse University
Why She’s Powerful: One of the most prolific producers in television, de Passe has gained a reputation for producing quality entertainment with staying power. In fact, her programming has earned her multiple Emmy Awards and nominations as well as prestigious honors like the Peabody Award and the Golden Globe award. This year she teamed up with The Heritage Networks to produce a revamped It’s Showtime at the Apollo, the popular syndicated variety show. And over the past few years, she has produced a slate of specials and broadcast and cable TV movies.
Career Track: Her story is the subject of two Harvard Business School case studies. More than 30 years ago, de Passe started her career as a creative assistant to Berry Gordy, the legendary chairman of Motown Records. She was credited with discovering the Jackson Five and rose to the position of president of Motown Productions, overseeing the creation of such awarding-winning and highly rated programs as Lonesome Dove, Small Sacrifices, The Jacksons: An American Dream, and Motown 25:Yesterday, T
oday, Forever. In 1992 she started de Passe Entertainment and has consistently produced major programs.
Title: CEO, So So Def Recordings Inc.
Why He’s Powerful: Dupri is the force behind So So Def, a $10 million joint venture with Sony’s Columbia Records. Since the deal’s inception in 1991, Dupri has racked up more than 20 gold and platinum albums and a roster of talent, including Lil Bow Wow, R&B group Jagged Edge, and female rapper Da Brat.
Career Track: Dupri’s father, a former music executive, introduced his son to the industry at an early age. By 19, Dupri had discovered the preteen rap duo Kris Kross. Dupri developed the act and wrote and produced their debut album, Totally Krossed Out, which featured