LinkedIn Next Wave: The must-know professionals transforming entertainment

LinkedIn Editorial Staff
Daveed Diggs
Randy Holmes | ABC | Getty Images

The business landscape is rapidly evolving — and there's a set of professionals, all 35 and under, urging on this transformation using a combination of skill, guts and perseverance. These are the inventors, strategists and entrepreneurs that make up the LinkedIn Next Wave 2016, a group of 120 individuals across a dozen different industries that are doing extraordinary work and transforming their fields.

The list, which is driven by data from LinkedIn's global professional network and editorial research, features several top names in entertainment who are shaping the future of the industry.

Check out 10 standout Next Wavers in the entertainment industry below — and see the full list here.

Jack Conte

Co-Founder and CEO, Patreon

Conteis no stranger to the struggles of a working musician. As a singer-songwriter and half of the band Pomplamoose, the 32-year-old has spent years trying to make a living through his art — and now, as CEO of crowdfunding platform Patreon, he's helping others do the same. "We're getting artists paid more than any other product in the world, " he toldLinkedIn. "Some creators are making 100x or 200x compared to what they make from traditional ad-based monetization products."

Where other crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter hone in on one big campaign, Patreon is based on a subscription model: fans pay on a recurring basis, or whenever an artist releases a work. "If backing a Kickstarter campaign is like going on a date," explains Flavorwire, citing an analogy made by musician Amanda Palmer, "then pledging to a Patreon campaign is a committed relationship." And that's what makes Patreon so important: it gives artists a way to actually make a living.

Daveed Diggs

Actor, Rapper

"I had decided early on that Broadway would not have a space for me," Diggs once told Broadway.com. Not only has history proven him wrong — the "Hamilton" star's electrifying performances earned him a Tony Award — he's continued to create his own space at the intersection of art forms and identities. Indeed, if anyone embodies the blend of genres and influences that is "Hamilton," it's Diggs: the 34-year-old,who studied theater at Brown and performed in regional plays, grew up immersed in Bay Area hip-hop and recently released his latest EP with rap-noise collective clipping.

Now that Diggs has left the mega-hit musical, his projects are equally varied, from a run on ABC's "Black-ish" to a workshop for those looking to bridge theater and hip-hop. Although Diggs isn't actively looking to return to Broadway, he does hope it rubs off on other parts of the entertainment industry. "Broadway is speaking to American stories right now — stories that are inclusive of all parts of America," he told Playbill. "I hope [the diversity we're seeing] in theatre starts ringing bells for executives in charge of [what gets produced] in all art forms."

Cynthia Frelund

Predictive Analytics Expert, National Football League

Who should you pick in your fantasy football draft? Your best bet would be to ask Frelund. Frelund is the NFL's first analytics expert, providing NFL Network shows with statistical insights and trend analysis. All those crazy numbers certainly don't come out of thin air: "I currently use and code in Python, R,Tableau, Hive, and Pig, and I am getting into open source deep learning," the 34-year-old Boston College grad says.

But what keeps her up at night isn't predicting who will win the next Super Bowl. "I really want everyone — but I will settle for more people — to love math as much as I do. Especially young women," she says. "I really want quantitative fields and being creative with the application of these skills to feel accessible and inspirational, not daunting and awful."

Grady Gamble

COO/CFO, Adaptive Studios

Gamble is the chief operating officer and chief financial officer for AdaptiveStudios, a new kind of film company that takes the best of what Hollywood kills and brings it to the right audience in non-traditional ways. "The traditionalHollywood supply chain can be prohibitively inefficient," says Gamble, 32.Meanwhile, "the general creative talent pool is getting bigger, more informed and more technically skilled, so we set out to build a studio that embraces this new paradigm."

With a pedigree from top studios like Paramount Pictures and Miramax, Gamble uses his expertise to sign onto the best scripts. Adaptive has already acquired 50 scripts, including about 20 from Miramax. Though, one of Gamble's biggest recent achievements was bringing "The Runner" into reality.The show, which was first pitched by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck 16 years ago,had been through several touch-and-go productions with no success. It finally hit the (very) small screen this year when the show premiered on Verizon's Go90mobile-first video service.

Thomas Gayno

Product Lead, Spotify

Gayno wields an impressive tech resume: Expedia, YouTube, Google, startup founder, acquire-ee. Two years ago, he co-founded the Cord Project, a platform that reimagined how we use voice in an era of always-on devices. Gayno, 33, saw the potential for voice-enabled software to connect people in simpler and more expressive ways. The technology caught Spotify's attention, and it snapped up the startup earlier this year.

Gayno is now leading product innovation for the Growth team at Spotify and is guiding a team of 20 engineers and designers as they re-imagine how people could consume music across devices. The goal is to "empower creators to go beyond the constraints imposed by physical albums or storage capacity," says Gayno." In only nine months, Gayno has helped launch Spotify's global Release Radar playlists and a new mobile lyrics experience that premiered in Japan.

Sal Gentile, Writer, Late Night with Seth Meyers
Source: LinkedIn

Sal Gentile

Writer, Late Night with Seth Meyers

Gentile found an unexpected sweet spot. The writer for "Late Night with Seth Meyers" is a political junkie who always wanted to be a comedy writer. "So, I basically did everything at once, which was my strategy," joked Gentile, 30. With a background as a producer at MSNBC and comedic chops honed as a performer at the Upright Citizens Brigade in NYC, his background made him a perfect fit for his current role: creating hilarious narratives from the political news of the day.

More and more shows are looking for ways to reach an audience with a voracious appetite for election news in a post-Jon Stewart world, and Gentile represents the new mixed-breed taking over late-night writers' rooms. It's been a boon for Gentile, but he has one warning for viewers: "Don't rely on just us for your news about the election."

Alana Mayo

VP, Production at Paramount Pictures

Hollywood breakthroughs are rare. As evidenced by the all-white Oscar nominees this year, it's even rarer for minorities. But Mayo is an exception—and an advocate for more racial representation in movies. Her success includes being one of two key studio creatives in the 2014 Best Picture nominee "Selma," and serving as a leading executive for hits such as the Oscar-winning "The Big Short" and Will Smith's "Bounty."

What she's looking forward to in the entertainment industry: "The demographics of this country are changing rapidly. Having our audience in mind, it's going to be so imperative to make movies that serve and speak to audiences that want to see themselves," she said at a panel discussion earlier this year on diversity in Hollywood. "I don't doubt the entertainment world will be more diverse in five years because of how global our business continues to become." Next on her plate: overseeing two new Paramount productions that aren't thought of as traditional "studio films." It's part of her overarching mission to bring diverse, talented voices onto the big screen.

Vinith Misra

Senior Data Scientist, Netflix

Fans of HBO's "Silicon Valley" will be familiar with Misra — or at least his code. Misra was the Stanford Ph.D. consultant who developed the algorithms for Pied Piper, the show's (extremely realistic) data compression startup. He's since taken his talent to another screen: He's Netflix's Senior Data Scientist, focused on building the statistical models that not only surface suggestions to you, but inform the entertainment company as to what types of original content to create.

"Entertainment today is in the midst of dramatic changes," the 29-year-old says. "Unprecedentedly massive amounts of data are being generated about how people want to be entertained." So what's the future of entertainment? One component should be computer-generated jokes, Misra believes. Last year he gave a TED talk on why machines need an algorithm for humor.

Tyler Nelson

Editor, Freelance

Nelson spent nearly a decade editing for film and television and became more and more frustrated with process limitations that slowed down everything. For instance, the traditional workflow calls for tedious manual labor to prepare files for offline editing and then a handoff to external vendors for visual effects and color correction. Nelson is changing that and giving directors the ability to keep the process in-house—while saving time and money. Working with David Fincher on movies like "The Social Network" and "Gone Girl," Nelson, 33, developed a new digital process that cuts out middlemen, allowing Fincher's editing team to make and review cuts in real time.

"Gone Girl" was the first feature film to be fully edited using Adobe Premier, and Nelson worked directly with Adobe to customize the software to handle the rigorous editorial requirements. "Having the onlineling ability in-house means that we are not wasting any precious time. We can go to the very last minute and make little nuance changes, or add a shot, or change a shot," said Nelson. "Everything is at our disposal right here and it's all because of the technology that we're using."

Lindsey Stirling

Musician and Dancer

It's hard to put a label on Stirling. She's a classical violinist, chart-topping hip-hop and EDM artist, modern dancer, bestselling New York Times book author, Mormon missionary and YouTube megastar, among other titles. Fittingly, she's steered clear of ever signing with a major record label, instead fiercely building her own unique path to stardom.

She started her musical career by posting a video of herself on YouTube in 2007; her channel now has more than 8.5 million subscribers (for those keeping count, that's more than Lady Gaga has!). "I want people to feel like they can be brave enough do the things they want to do," the 30-year-old writes on her website. "Everybody has hopes and dreams. Teach yourself to gain the courage you may not have in the moment."

See the full LinkedIn Next Wave list of top professionals 35 and under.

See also:

Daveed Diggs
Randy Holmes | ABC | Getty Images
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