10 People Who Are Transforming Hollywood
This year's People issue celebrates the 56 Angelenos we find most intriguing. Among those 56 are fashionistas, musicians and novelists -- and, of course, the movers-and-shakers in Hollywood.
Their influence can be felt on both the screen and behind the scenes. From multihyphenates like Anna Kendrick and Tyrese Gibson to scribes like Jennifer Lee and Janice Gibson, these are 10 of Hollywood's finest who are shaping the industry.
1. Tyrese Gibson
Tyrese Gibson is checking out new office space for his expanding record label, Voltron Recordz, while talking to a reporter and fielding phone calls from underlings. "I like this space," he tells his real estate agent. "This is obviously a medical office. It looks like a few heartbeats have been checked in this room."
The 34-year-old had his heart checked recently, along with other vitals, as he admits to spreading himself too thin with movies (Fast & Furious 6 hits in May), music and behind-the-scenes moves. This spring he released A Black Rose That Grew Through Concrete, which includes a documentary, a double album and a book about his life. The latter will be the fourth title on Amazon bearing Gibson's name as an author.
Yeah, the kid from Watts who broke into America's consciousness as the star of John Singleton's Baby Boy in 2001 seems to balance more gigs than Bon Jovi, and sometimes it shows. Gibson says he never dreams; his whole life is a dream. "I dream with my eyes open."
For more, see Dennis Romero's profile of Tyrese Gibson.
2. Tim Heidecker
When Tim Heidecker says his wife is in school studying "criminalistics" to be a "private investigator, in law enforcement," it's hard to know whether to believe him. After all, the Atwater Village-based comedian is known for his stunts, pranks and fabrications. Last year he impersonated Bob Dylan in a 15-minute song about the sinking of the Titanic, and he continued the joke by later "announcing" to his hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers that Dylan would be replacing Beyoncé in the Super Bowl halftime show. (Folks in many corners of the Internet were hysterical.) For a web series called On Cinema at the Cinema, meanwhile, he pretends to be the hackiest, least knowledgeable film critic imaginable.
But that's just part of his charm. The 37-year-old, eastern Pennsylvania-bred parodist is best known for his experimental, schizophrenic Adult Swim comedy Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, which ran for three years in the late aughts and was created with his former Temple University film school classmate Eric Warheim. Since then, Heidecker has been involved in practically a new project every week, including films (Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie), albums (a parody tribute album to failed presidential candidate Herman Cain) and even commercials -- he and Warheim directed a series of Old Spice ads.
For more, see Ben Westhoff's profile of Tim Heidecker.
3. Anna Kendrick
From a booth at the restaurant Birds, actress Anna Kendrick eyes a TV commercial across the room. "How about that pocket hose, huh? It's a little tiny hose and it gets big. It's a real space-saver," she says. "If you have a yard that needs watering, I think you've got enough space for a hose. Sorry."
In addition to ridiculing infomercials over lunch in Franklin Village, Kendrick does many other things that adorkable, 27-year-old Angelenos are supposed to do -- not because they're cool but simply because she wants to. She frequents hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurants and art-house theaters like Cinefamily and the New Beverly, sometimes by herself. She uses Instagram, and Snapchat, the latter of which is perfect for celebrities since the images disappear in seconds. She obsesses over the hoarding phenomenon, even hanging out in the Reddit community devoted to discussing the gory details.
She's done most things right in her career, too, rising to a level of welcome ubiquity that rivals Neil Patrick Harris and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, fellow actor-singer-dancer-comedians who are so likable and of-the-moment that they can do no wrong. Kendrick effortlessly bounces from a Twilight sequel to Joe Swanberg's upcoming micro-brewing indie, Drinking Buddies, to the in-production film version of the cult musical The Last Five Years. Her solo in the a cappella movie Pitch Perfect -- which involved a 75-year-old Appalachian folk song and a cup used as a percussion instrument, a trick she discovered via a video posted on, yes, Reddit -- hit No. 64 on the Billboard Hot 100.
4. George Takei
At 76, George Takei is in the prime of his life: The Star Trek actor and L.A. native is now a social media maven, a theatrical producer and, with his husband, the former Brad Altman (now Takei), a poster child for marriage equality.
That doesn't mean everyone knows how to pronounce his name properly. It's Ta-KAY, he says, not Ta-KAI -- as in "Ta-KAY is gay," he quips.
Takei's dry wit and deadpan style have made him one of the Internet's most beloved celebrities. But it's a dark episode from his childhood that shaped his world.
For more, see Lina Lecaro's profile of George Takei.
5. Jennifer Lee
In Disney's blockbuster Wreck-It Ralph, Vanellope is a digital princess in a video game who's stripped of her coding and mistreated as a flickering computer "glitch." Vanellope's moxie -- plus help from video villain-turned-friend Ralph -- saves her.
Of course, that's not how Jennifer Lee rose from the industry mists to co-write the Oscar-nominated Ralph with Phil Johnston (writer of Cedar Rapids), or how she was tapped to be the first female director of a Disney theatrical feature (the upcoming Frozen, co-directed by Chris Buck). But there are intriguing parallels.
For more, see Jill Stewart's profile of Jennifer Lee.
6. Jessie Andrews
Jessie Andrews was a 17-year-old American Apparel salesgirl in Miami Beach when company founder Dov Charney, impressed with her abilities, hired her to instruct the other area employees. She later began modeling for the company and then, at 18, was recruited by elite porn agent Mark Spiegler, who manages high-profile adult stars, including former client Sasha Grey.
By 2012 Andrews was so successful in that industry that the AVN Awards named her best actress for her title role in Portrait of a Call Girl, which finds her engaging in a six-person "blowbang," bondage, sadomasochism and all.
Now 21, Andrews has dirty-blonde hair and wears little makeup. She's comfortable in backward baseball caps and yoga pants, despite the leather gloves and thigh-high boots she wears in the above-mentioned film. Believe it or not, in person she comes across as an innocent, well-mannered, down-to-earth girl.
For more, see Jennifer Swann's profile of Jessie Andrews.
7. Chelsea Peretti
Comedian Chelsea Peretti thrives on awkwardness, making her audience feel uncomfortable by obsessing on her shortcomings. Though her good looks are enough to inspire Internet stalkers (including, she's noted, foot fetishists), she plays up her small flaws. "I'm Jewish and Italian and I lucked out and got the nose of both cultures," she says in her stand-up act.
Sometimes you aren't sure whether to laugh at her jokes. Usually, you do.
For more, see Aaron Frank's profile of Chelsea Peretti.
8. Victoria Justice
"I think you go right here," says Victoria Justice, guiding a reporter toward her house in the Encino Hills, overlooking the mountains and just down the street from Martin Lawrence's pad.
At home, Justice's 16-year-old sister, Madison, wearing a mud mask, lounges poolside, while her mother -- a chatterbox Bronx native of Puerto Rican descent -- talks about the special family dinners they prepare every Friday: beans, rice and chicken. Justice's family uprooted itself from Florida for her career when she was 11, and the singer-actress repaid the favor last year by purchasing this 5,000-square-foot home, which they chose, Justice says, "kind of on the spur of the moment."
The haste is understandable, considering that the 20-year-old Justice worked every day but six in 2012. The star of the inexplicably canceled hit Nickelodeon television show Victorious is a certified millionaire, not to mention a film actress, a singer in possession of a Columbia Records deal and an emerging pinup who has been in Maxim. In her spare time she makes AT&T ads urging teens not to text while driving. Easy for her to say: She's been too busy to get her driver's license.
For more, see Ben Westhoff's profile of Victoria Justice.
9. Janice Min
You can divide the timeline of L.A.'s venerable industry rag The Hollywood Reporter into two distinct epochs: pre- and post-Janice Min. The Reporter pre-Min was a dry, highly specialized daily that was being read by fewer and fewer people. In the 2½ post-Min years, it has evolved into a slick, glossy, thoroughly modern magazine-style weekly. "The only thing we kept was the name," Min says.
She was helming Us Weekly when Prometheus Global Media then-CEO Richard Beckman reached out to her about revamping The Hollywood Reporter, which he'd recently purchased. She was intrigued. "Creating something is interesting," she says. "You can focus-group it to death. Or you can deliver things to people they didn't even know they needed or wanted."
She saw in her head how it might work. Min wanted stronger graphics. She wanted to break news, "not just cut and paste press releases into another form of paper." She wanted a fun, smart and informed publication about how entertainment is made in America.
For more, see Gendy Alimurung's profile of Janice Min.
10. Doron Ofir
"I'm a collector of characters. We're a very interesting breed."
Doron Ofir, 41 -- original casting director of more than 100 reality productions, from RuPaul's Drag Race to Millionaire Matchmaker to Jersey Shore -- finds the world's most fascinating people. Then he quickly decides whether they have what it takes to be on reality TV. "Ten years ago, this profession didn't exist," he says. "I'm one of the first to create a brick-and-mortar, fully functioning, talent-integration casting company in the world of entertainment."
For more, see Tanja M. Laden's profile of Doron Ofir.
Get the Theater Newsletter
Get a rundown of upcoming theater events and ticket deals in Los Angeles.
More ARTS News
- 5 Great Free Things to Do in L.A. This Week (Besides Seeing Fireworks)
- OKCupid Blind Dating Is Much Less Intense Than OKStupid at UCB (VIDEO)
- 18 Best Things to Do in L.A. This Week