screen. Flavor Unit contributed to the production of films such as Beauty Shop, The Cookout, and the upcoming This Christmas. Recently, her company inked a first-look development deal with Focus Features and its division Rogue Pictures. Her first projects are Welfare Queen, a fact-based drama about a woman who scammed the welfare system, and Reality Sucks, a spoof of reality shows. Partnering with Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment, the company is also producing the highly-anticipated Bad Girls, an action comedy that will pair Latifah with Jada Pinkett Smith. If they can replicate the success of Smith and Martin Lawrence, Latifah’s power will reach stratospheric heights.
— Anthony S. Calypso
Tim Story Director Age: 36 Why he’s powerful: One of Hollywood’s hottest directors, Story has been placed at the helm of Fox’s Fantastic Four motion picture franchise. In directing the first film based on the popular Marvel comic book, Story became one of the few black directors to break the $100 million budget barrier. And the film’s gross box-office receipts of more than $330 million worldwide made him the highest-grossing African American director in Tinseltown. He’s directed the sequel, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, a film with a $130 million budget that is expected to be one of this summer’s blockbusters.
Denzel Washington Actor-Director-Producer Age: 52 Why he’s powerful: Washington can develop any project he wants. The attachment of this two-time Academy Award winner to a project ensures any studio that they’ll not only receive a quality performance but gain a sizable return on their investment. His 34 films have collectively grossed $1.4 billion. Since 1995, he has also played the role of producer, guiding projects that add diversity to
the motion picture pipeline through Mundy Lane Entertainment. Most recently, his production company has participated in the development of the critically-acclaimed Antwone Fisher, his directorial debut. His upcoming productions include The Great Debaters and In Black and White, a biopic of the late entertainer Sammy Davis Jr.
Forest Whitaker Actor-Producer-Director Age: 46 Why he’s powerful: With his finely honed acting skills, the stage-trained Whitaker has used steady work and brilliant performances as a platform to emerge as one of Hollywood’s most bankable black film stars. Theatrical releases in which he starred or played major supporting roles have grossed more than $1 billion. And he is expected to become an even bigger draw since receiving this year’s Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture — Drama, for his portrayal of the brutally sadistic yet charming Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland. Whitaker has also used his clout to produce and direct an eclectic array of motion picture and television vehicles.
Oprah Winfrey CEO, Harpo Productions Inc. Age: 53 Why she’s powerful: Known as “The Queen of Daytime Television,” this billionaire is one of the most powerful people in media, period. Through Harpo Inc. (No. 17 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 list with $290 million in sales), she produces and owns The Oprah Winfrey Show, the No. 1 talk