Meet the 30 Under 30s Who Change Hollywood
Rising stars amaze audiences while disrupting status quo
ohn September 20, Ramy Youssef was at home, watching an Emmy Awards from a distance and socially distant like the rest of us. The difference? He was nominated for his role in Ramy, the semi-autobiographical Hulu series that he created and stars in, and while the winner of the lead actor in a comedy series was announced, a man dressed in a full hazmat suit, carrying a statuette Dorée approached her patio doors.
Youssef lost to Dan Levy, and the man in the hazmat suit waved before leaving with the trophy. But the 29-year-old is not empty-handed: in January, he won a Golden Globe Award for the same role and made headlines with his acceptance speech.
“We did a very specific show about an Arab and Muslim family living in New Jersey, and it means a lot to be recognized at that level,” said the first generation of Egyption, after saying “Allahu akbar. Thank you. God.”
The representation, whether that of the Muslim family in Ramy or the community of people with disabilities in an upcoming project – is essential for its production company Cairo Cowboy.
“The theme that binds these characters is not just that they are marginalized people – it’s that their quest to belong and connect is universal,” Youssef said. Forbes.
And he’s far from the only one on the 2021 Under 30 Hollywood and Entertainment’s 30 list to use his creative platform to get a bigger message across. The young stars were reluctant to show up, collect checks and go home. Instead, they choose projects – or create their own – based on the principles they want to advance.
Take Ziwe Fumudoh, actor and writer. In 2017, she posted a trailer for her YouTube show, Baited with Ziwe in which she promised to make her friends and co-workers, mostly fellow comedians and mostly white, uncomfortable about race. And she delivered: For the past three years, she’s made videos that are both goofy and fun to laugh at, making white guests and viewers squirm and realize their racist thinking.
During the pandemic and in the wake of this summer’s renewed breed conversations, Fumudoh streamed her YouTube show to Instagram live, where it immediately went viral. His most popular interviews have garnered over 150,000 views. In October, she landed a contract with Showtime to star and produce her own variety show.
The goal? “Creating art that motivates people to get involved in their community and work to change the world,” she says.
I can make the decisions and decide where my life should go.
The 2021 class features the top 30 young actors, writers, producers, directors, agents, executives and entrepreneurs in the entertainment industry. All list members must be under 30 as of December 31, 2020 and cannot have been on a previous 30 Under 30 list. Some are much younger than the small number: this year’s roster includes 15-year-old Shahadi Wright Joseph, who most recently played Young Nala in the live-action. The Lion King and will appear in the next Amazon Studios anthology Them: Alliance.
“There was a time when actors of my age range and demographics were limited to roles that reinforced stereotypes. I’m thrilled to be part of a generation of young black actors who can tell stories that not only showcase our range of talents, but also our experiences, ”she says.
To form our tenth annual who’s who of entertainment, we invited four industry experts to sit as judges: the chairman of the television group Warner Bros. Channing Dungey, actress and activist Olivia Munn, as well as writer, comedian and actress Quinta Brunson, and actor and rapper Lakeith Stanfield, both graduates of 30 Under 30.