Top 10 Entertainment Figures to Look out for in 2023

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#1 – Nat Mundel

Nat Mundel is the Founder of Voyage Media, an innovative entertainment platform that connects storytellers all over the world with veteran producers to create film, television, and podcast content. In just half a decade, his company has been responsible for bringing a plethora of successful projects to the masses, including 9 feature films and television shows, among them the critically acclaimed and Emmy-winning “Valley Uprising”. Additionally, Voyage has released over a dozen hit podcast series and has inked over 300 licensing deals for intellectual property, all sourced from outside the usual agency and studio channels.

Nat founded Voyage on the principle that great stories come from anywhere and that everyone deserves an opportunity to be heard, a belief inspired by the various cultures and people he met during his travels around the world as a professional high-altitude mountain climber and guide. Building a democratized business model in a 100–year old industry has not been without its challenges. Originally, while the streamers thought Voyage was on to something, none of the major studios thought it would be possible. Now, a few years later, Voyage sells to all the major studios and is represented for podcasts by the #1 talent agency in the world, CAA.  Nat’s goal is to leave an indelible mark on the industry and be a beacon of what’s possible when you solve old problems with an open and collaborative mindset. In addition to his professional pursuits, Nat is also a bestselling author, public speaker, and a devoted father.

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#2 – Connor Gould

From the 1st day any filmmaker steps on set, they are presented with a road map to follow. Some of those key checkpoints include paying your dues, waiting for the right opportunity to present itself, but most importantly- lots of hard-earned experience spanning over many years. Connor Gould however, threw out the proverbial map and decided to draw his own.

In a few short years of arriving in Los Angeles, Connor has insisted on taking on ambitious challenges in film production, each bigger than the last. Renowned for his diverse portfolio spanning from commercials, music videos, and live TV, Connor has made significant contributions to the entertainment industry. His work has received widespread acclaim from fans and A-list collaborators alike, including Lil Wayne, Romeo Santos, Chris Brown, and Machine Gun Kelly to name a few. A testament to his unwavering commitment to artistic excellence, his latest work, “Lioness,” has been handpicked for the prestigious Beverly Hills Film Festival. A heartfelt commentary on the struggles of Iranian women deprived of basic human rights, “Lioness” underscores Connor’s dedication to creating thought-provoking art that inspires social and global change.

Connor’s next challenge? Launching his own full-service production company CWBY Creative. With his team, Connor hopes to disrupt the stale and rigid production company model while bringing his own brand of enthusiasm, fearlessness, and freethinking to maximize value for his clients with a touch of his signature southern charm (staying true to his Texas roots, it’s not uncommon to see him on set donning a cowboy hat and boots making the rounds). Wasting no time, CWBY is currently in production for several projects. Keep an eye on Connor and CWBY Creative, if their namesake is any indication, we expect to see them forge new paths and leading the world of content creation on their own terms, breaking any rules of the old establishment as they see fit.

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#3 – Jasper Grey

Jasper Grey is a dynamic figure in the entertainment industry, known for his innovative approach as a manager and producer. As the founder of The Vendetta Group, the creative enterprise has rapidly gained recognition for its groundbreaking strategies and emphasis on ethical business practices. Jasper’s motivation to transform the industry sprang from his observation that Hollywood was stuck in a vicious cycle of outdated business models and a lack of fundamental values. By instilling such values in every aspect of the company’s operations, he has spearheaded a movement to change the industry one conversation, project, or deal at a time.

Since its inception in 2019, The Vendetta Group has achieved an impressive track record, having successfully sold and closed deals with most, if not every, network, streamer, or studio on behalf of its esteemed writer and director clients. Recently, Jasper also served as Executive Producer on the indie dramedy, 5 Years Apart, which was distributed on Hulu. Remarkably, despite the pandemic’s unprecedented challenges, Jasper has continued to produce high-quality, globally distributed commercial and branded content, proving his agility and resilience as a strategist.

Jasper aims to continue growing Vendetta’s client and partner relationships and to raise independent funding to assist Vendetta’s writers and directors with internal projects in the future. To that end, during the winter of 2023, Jasper and his production company will independently produce the dark thriller entitled FAR FROM THE WICKED, a script written and directed by Vendetta clients. As part of his expansion plans, Jasper will formally launch the Vendetta Agency this year which will serve as a subsidiary creative agency overseeing the production of commercial and branded content globally. In the long run, Jasper aims to expand the influence of The Vendetta Group and pave the way for this new era in entertainment.

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#4 – Jason Eric Perlman

Jason Eric Perlman, a skilled screenwriter and accomplished director of two feature films, has harbored a deep passion for cinema since his high school days. His fervor for the art form was sparked by its capacity to fuse his interests in music, photography, and creative writing. Upon graduating with an undergraduate degree in Environmental Science, Jason wasted no time in pursuing his dreams and enrolled in the University of Southern California to obtain a Master’s degree in Filmmaking. He then began work in the industry right away with an assistant position at Lionsgate.

In 2021, Jason co-founded Entelekey Media with a renowned international businesswoman. Their first project, “Site,” is currently in post-production and boasts a remarkable cast. Among its expanding business portfolio, the company is also co-producing a substantially larger-scale feature film based on Perlman’s own script, about the true story of a family searching for a famous sunken treasure. In addition to being prominent in the film industry, Jason is also active in the television field. Jason is also active in the television field. He successfully adapted an award-winning non-fiction book into a television series that is now being shopped by a major production company. Moreover, Jason has sold other scripted television content and pitched significant companies and streaming services, including HBO Max, Amazon, and Hulu. Now venturing into education, Perlman has also taught film lectures at UCLA Extension and the LA Film School and served as a guest director and juror at Ringling College of Art and Design in Florida.

Notwithstanding Jason’s exceptional achievements, he retains a commendable sense of modesty and a down-to-earth attitude. For him, the medium of film embodies the fulfillment of his artistic and creative potential, as it provides him with an avenue to blend his diverse passions into a cohesive and unified whole.

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#5 – Grant Lease

Grant Lease is a rising star in the entertainment world. With nearly a decade of experience on both the creative and business side of TV, film, and podcasts, he is already making a name for himself at Bill Burr’s All Things Comedy as a talented development executive, comedy writer, and producer of comedy content.

According to Grant, what sets him apart in his executive role is his longtime experience as a writer and the perspective that affords. Grant’s ability to provide compassionate, constructive, and writer-friendly feedback on projects is something that has been consistently commended by both colleagues and talent, and is something he’s noted as taking great pride in. “I’ve heard and lived too many stories about bad execs and bad notes,” he says, “so I take the whole process almost annoyingly serious.”

Prior to working at All Things Comedy, Grant worked alongside Jason Sudeikis, Bill Lawrence, and the entire creative staff in the writer’s room on the first season of Ted Lasso. Since joining ATC, Grant has written branded and ad campaigns for Drive Electric US and Universal Dreamworks, produced and co-hosted George Lopez’s OMG HI podcast, and developed, pitched, and sold projects across TV, film, and audio.

At only 30 years old, Grant aspires to continue creating and producing comedy projects of all kinds. In the long term, he hopes to create and produce a successful TV comedy, publish a novel or non-fiction work, and continue to release music as a self-titled artist. And in terms of what’s next? “Truthfully, who knows?” he muses. “I’m just going to keep trying, keep learning, and keep surrounding myself with people smarter and more experienced than me. No matter where that lands me, I’m sure it’s where I’m meant to go.”

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#6 – James DeJulio

An early believer in the idea that Creators would one day change the game in Hollywood and on Madison Ave, James DeJulio has singularly focused his career on helping others unlock their creative potential by democratizing access to the creative economy. Now, as the Founder and CEO of Tongal, he’s proven time and again that a community of creators can produce really cool sh*** – from super bowl ads to feature films to studio-quality 3D animation for the world’s most valuable brands and entertainment companies. At the same time, he’s created an effective antidote to Hollywood’s imploding economic model, thanks to Tongal’s tech platform. By leveraging technology to organize global talent around complex productions, Tongal is lowering the expense of development, production, marketing and distribution, all while intentionally bringing forth a new, flourishing creative class.

James has been recognized for pushing the creative industry forward and for his commitment to connecting emerging talent to opportunity. A frequent guest lecturer at Harvard Business School, he’s also delivered a keynote with NASA at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, received the McKinsey M-Prize for Innovation, and helped helm Disney’s Star Wars Go Rogue Digital Series, made by Creators on Tongal and named PRWeek’s Best Global Campaign of the Year.

A strong proponent of the idea that “the day before something is a breakthrough, it’s a crazy idea,” James has never wavered in his belief that creators are integral to the future of content. If Pixar’s dream was to make the first feature-length 3D animated film, James’ dream is to make the first community-written, developed, produced and owned, animated feature film. And if his track record is any indication, well, we’ll just say, stay tuned…

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#7 – Levi C. Maaia and Noah Mark

Levi C. Maaia and Noah Mark founded Maaia Mark Productions three years ago to amplify the voices of innovative people doing extraordinary things. Their company’s first film “Pathways to Invention” – produced with major funding from The Lemelson Foundation – is already making waves, taking home Best Documentary Feature at both the L.A. Independent Film Festival (LAIFFA) Awards and the SoCal International Film Festival, along with more than a dozen other festival nods.

Levi is a skilled filmmaker, educator, and communicator who has a passion for making the invisible visible. His media journey began in FM radio and cable television, where he became fascinated by the potential for technology to educate and expose people to diverse perspectives, which earned him the Best Director honor at LAIFFA for the film.

Noah has an extensive resume of success executive producing unscripted shows for ABC, Fox, and NatGeo, as well as streaming platforms Netflix and Hulu. Noah’s notable accomplishments include directing a Fox Sports biopic and producing a film that was nominated for a Sports Emmy Award. Noah is also the recipient of two World MMA Awards for best program. He also received the Best Producer nod at LAIFFA for “Pathways to Invention.”

Levi and Noah are using the art of storytelling not only to entertain but also to make a meaningful impact in the world. Despite the setbacks presented by the pandemic, the two visionary producers are determined to continue pursuing their passion project “Making It in Cuba”, a film set to showcase the resilience and creativity of makers and artists in Havana.  Together Levi and Noah’s innovative and creative approaches to filmmaking aim to bring inspiring stories available to a global audience, positioning them as two producers to watch in the entertainment industry.

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#8 – Bryan Arion

Bryan Arion is a rapidly emerging talent in the entertainment industry, captivating audiences with his acting prowess and musical gifts. He’s been featured in a variety of well-known television shows, commercials, and music videos, including “NBC’s Day of our Lives,” Michael Bay’s “The Last Ship,” and Netflix’s “Selena, the Series.” Despite his current success, Arion’s journey to Hollywood was far from easy.

Born in Chilpancingo, Guerrero, Mexico, Arion, and his family experienced extreme violence and danger due to the presence of cartel activity in the region. The situation became dire when the family tried to escape, leading to the beheading of Arion’s great-grandfather in front of his grandmother when she was only nine years old. Ultimately, Arion and his mother fled to North Carolina to seek refuge with distant relatives. Although they faced significant discrimination and racism in their new home, Arion was determined to follow his creative passions, honing his skills in guitar, piano, and acting on stage. Additionally, he trained in MMA to protect himself and his mother from harm.

As his star continues to rise, Arion remains focused on pursuing his aspirations in the entertainment industry. He aspires to produce movies, eventually building his own production company. Arion is particularly passionate about creating a film inspired by his grandmother’s remarkable life story, in the hopes that it will inspire others. Throughout his journey, he has relied heavily on the unwavering support of his mother and grandmother. Arion encourages others to embrace their struggles and remain determined to pursue their dreams, noting that confidence and tenacity can take one far.

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#9 – Selena Leoni

Selena Leoni is a unique cross-cultural producer and executive whose upbringing in Italy and China has given her a unique perspective on the art of production. As a queer third-culture individual, she has had first-hand experience of the profound influence that representation can have on one’s self-esteem and identity. Selena’s steadfast belief in the need to dismantle harmful stereotypes that persistently plague underrepresented communities inspires her unwavering commitment to promoting representation.

With more than a decade of experience in film, television, and multimedia production, Selena is an accomplished producer and executive. From conception to distribution, she’s gained extensive experience collaborating with unions and guilds, leading teams, and managing various budgets to deliver successful projects. Selena’s accolades include numerous awards from renowned film festivals, including the Austin Film Festival, Santa Barbara International Film Festival, and the Indy Shorts International Film Festival. As a member of BAFTA Newcomers and a Producer Fellow in Film Independent’s Project Involve 2021, she remains dedicated to exploring the limitless possibilities of the film industry. In addition to YOUNG KINGS by Bryant Griffin, which has earned numerous awards, she has also produced two other award-winning films – ALL I EVER WANTED and HARD, both of which were produced under Film Independent’s banner.

The foundation of Selena‘s work is a commitment to globalized character-driven stories that empower marginalized groups. Throughout the projects she produces, it is evident that she is committed to portraying underrepresented groups in a way that reduces stereotypes and represents them more accurately and inclusively. Known for connecting people of diverse backgrounds and cultures through storytelling, Selena has earned a reputation as a prominent figure in the film industry.

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#10 – Ramon Charles

Ramon Charles is a 23-year-old innovative Chicano director who is disrupting the traditional filmmaking paradigm by injecting a contemporary Generation Z perspective into his work. Ramon is spearheading the production of a documentary series and a short film highlighting the L.A. 92′ Civil Unrest, through the lens of a new generation of Angeleno filmmakers in collaboration with prominent political and community heavyweights such as Mayor Karen Bass, George Gascón, Holly Mitchell, Sylvia Castillo, Mike Gibson, Senator Steven Bradford, Mike Woo, Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Hyepin Im. With his combination of cinema and politics, he is breaking new ground for independent filmmaking, especially in representing the viewpoint of Los Angeles-based young filmmakers of color.

As a young filmmaker, Ramon has achieved several career accomplishments that have contributed to his success. In 2019, he earned recognition as an Emerging Content Creator by the National Association of Latino Independent Producers, winning the coveted N.A.L.I.P. scholarship. In addition, Ramon’s produced short film, “Her Place,” has won over 50 national and international awards, and is continuing to flourish to this day.

During his early twenties, Ramon founded Hunnymoon Productions, L.L.C., which has grown into a well-established production company with a solid reputation. Despite the challenges, Ramon successfully produced his first film in Los Angeles during the pandemic, demonstrating his leadership skills and determination in navigating the challenging circumstances and preventing any outbreaks of COVID. In the coming years, Ramon envisions deepening his knowledge through constructive self-reflection and conquering ever-more demanding challenges that will ultimately benefit the younger generation. The fusion of film and politics is nothing short of revolutionary, which has firmly established Ramon as a figure to monitor in the fast-moving film industry closely. With a planned completion of his current project within the next month or so, followed by a private screening of it on the evening of the anniversary of the Civil Unrest – the Rainbow Riot – on April 29th, 2023, Ramon plans to set the limits for independent filmmaking

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