These 27 Young Influentials Are Shaking Up Media, Marketing, Tech and Entertainment

BY ADWEEK STAFF

Adweek introduces the 2015 class of Young Influentials, 27 individuals from media, marketing, tech and entertainment who are remaking business and culture. From Jessica Alba—the actress-turned-entrepreneur whose Honest Co. has become a billion-dollar retail force—to Mindy Kaling, Gigi Hadid and the brains, muscle and talent behind the likes of Periscope, Girls Who Code and Mr. Robot, these young people are all accomplished beyond their years. They also enjoy outsized influence in the industry and beyond.

PopSugar is Adweek's editorial partner on Young Influentials. Lisa Sugar, co-founder and editor in chief of PopSugar, served as selection committee chair alongside Adweek’s editors. Now, check out this powerhouse group and learn what makes them so influential.

Sam Esmail, creator, Mr. Robot

USA Network's execs didn't know what they were getting into when they agreed to let Sam Esmail make Mr. Robot, his drama about a mentally unstable cybersecurity engineer named Elliot (Rami Malek) who moonlights as a master hacker.

Esmail, 38, admits that his pilot script "feels like there was this procedural element where we're going to see Elliot do this hack of the week. But when I pitched out the season, I pitched out to pretty close what we saw air, and then they realized, 'This is not going to be anything like that. In fact, it's going to get even more bizarre and out of the box.'"

Thank goodness, because Esmail created a brilliantly subversive drama full of exhilarating twists that shook up summer TV, while it also gave USA the kind of critical acclaim that has long eluded the network. Still, the screenwriter and director, who had envisioned Mr. Robot as an independent film before realizing his story was better suited to television, kept waiting for his good luck to run out. "I felt like every episode, somebody was going to be like, 'OK, this show has jumped the shark, and we all should collectively stop watching now,'" he admits.

There seems little chance of that. Esmail has already sketched out Mr. Robot's broad storylines to their conclusion—which, he is adamant, will arrive no later than Season 5. "I didn't create this character and world so that I can start off the kernel of a story and then drag things out for years and years," he explains. "I want to stick to this one story."

Esmail is fully aware, meanwhile, that he will lose his underdog status with Season 2. "Expectations are going to be higher, and we have to not only meet those, but exceed them," he says—meaning his anxiety level will only continue to rise. "I'm still thinking the other shoe is going to drop at some point." —Jason Lynch

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