Ice Cube’s first film, Friday, grossed an impressive $27 million when it was released in 1995. The sequel, Next Friday, produced under Ice Cube’s production company Cube Vision, raked in $57 million at the box office. And this fall, Ice Cube hit another home run with Barbershop, which has produced overall box office receipts of more than $60 million.
Career Track: A native of South Central Los Angeles, Ice Cube’s first big gig was as a member of N.W.A., the pioneering gangsta rap group. The group’s 1988 debut album, Straight Outta Compton, was a smash hit, selling 3 million albums. In 1989 Ice Cube left the group and decided to go solo. In 1991 he would be pulled to the motion picture industry after his starring role in Boyz N the Hood, the sleeper hit directed by John Singleton. Shortly thereafter, Ice Cube decided to produce his own movies.
Big Break: At the age of 16, Ice Cube sold his first rap song, Boyz N the Hood, to the late EZ-E of N.W.A. fame.
Title: CEO, Q West Productions
Education: Berklee College of Music
Why He’s Powerful: Nicknamed “Q,” Jones is a prolific composer of numerous film and television scores and the founder of VIBE magazine. Jones has recently focused on working in film and television production.
Career Track: Jones celebrates more than 50 years performing and being involved in music. He has worked as a composer, record producer, arranger, conductor, instrumentalist, TV producer, record company executive, magazine founder, and multimedia entrepreneur.
Jones has won 26 Grammy Awards, the Recording Academy’s Trustees Award, and an Emmy. He holds the record for the most Grammy nominations with a total of 77. He produced the scores for 33 major motion pictures.
Big Break: He broke into the film industry in 1985 when he coproduced the motion picture The Color Purple. He earned worldwide acclaim for producing, “We Are the World,” and produced the best-selling album in the history of the recording industry, Michael Jackson’s Thriller, selling more than 45 million copies and counting.
Title: Agent, Motion Picture Department, William Morris Agency (WMA)
Education: B.A., Vanderbilt University; J.D., Howard University
Why He’s Powerful: King cuts deals for superstars. His clients include notables such as Spike Lee, Charles Dutton (the actor-turned-director who won an Emmy in 2000 for HBO’s The Corner), and Tim Story, the rising star who directed the highly successful Barbershop. He also represents Antwone Fisher, whose memoirs were adapted into a screenplay produced by Denzel Washington’s Mundy Lane Entertainment.
Career Track: King served as a law clerk and then legal consultant for MTV Networks and America Online.
Big Break: King was instrumental in signing hip-hop diva Missy Elliott.
Title: President & COO, BET
Education: A.B., Brown University; M.A., John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University; J.D., Harvard Law School
Why She’s Powerful: Lee is directly responsible for much of the success Black Entertainment Television (BET) has experienced in the last 16 years. The highest-ranking African American female executive at Viacom (BET’s parent company), Lee has led the groundbreaking,