Hollywood has no shortage of talents who excel in their crafts, but the rarest joy is to find a celebrity or rising star who seems capable of doing almost anything—and doing it well.

Each year, Adweek’s Creative 100—our list of the most creative professionals in America—honors 10 celebs and influencers who represent the best of the artistic, innovative spirit coming out of television, film, music and more.

Our list is new each year with no repeat honorees, meaning you’ll definitely want to check out our 2015 and 2016 lists, which included stars who’ve risen far higher since, such as Chance the Rapper and Legion creator Noah Hawley.

Here are our picks for 2017:


Issa Rae
Actor, Writer, Director, Producer

With an HBO series based off her successful web series and book, Rae provides a fresh voice to the comedy scene. Her insightful point of view and background in production as a woman of color fuel her relatable and honest sense of humor.

Recently, thanks to an unofficial social media campaign across Tumblr and Twitter, Rae was named the writer of a feature heist/action film starring Rihanna and Lupita Nyong’o. In previous speeches, Rae has thanked her mother for their shared sense of awkwardness, which seems to continue to inspire her projects and success throughout her career.
Sami Main


Jordan Peele
Actor, Writer, Director

Get Out, a 2017 horror film he wrote, co-produced and directed, became the second biggest R-rated horror movie in North America. It earned over $165 million in domestic sales as of April, and the departure from Peele’s usual medium of comedy showed that his talents are far more wide-ranging than casual fans might have thought.

As one half of the comedy and sketch duo Key and Peele, he helped create sketches for Comedy Central before the pair starred in Keanu, a feature-length film also written by Peele.

“Get Out was totally a passion project,” Peele said in an interview with Fandango. “I didn’t think it was ever gonna get made, but it was just fun to write.”
Sami Main


Donald Glover
Actor, Writer, Producer

Glover shook up TV last fall with his inventive FX series, Atlanta, which debuted to critical and commercial acclaim, becoming the network’s highest-rated comedy ever. The show’s most essential element? “Tone was the most important,” says Glover, who created, wrote, starred in and occasionally directed Atlanta, while finishing his third Childish Gambino album, Awaken, My Love! “The feeling you get watching the show is the heart of the series, we hoped.”

As Glover plots Season 2, he’s also tackling four beloved franchises: playing Lando Calrissian in next year’s standalone film about a young Han Solo, voicing Simba in the upcoming Lion King remake, appearing in Spider-Man: Homecoming this summer and overseeing a Deadpool animated series (alongside brother Stephen) which will air next year on FXX.

“My approach is, basically, not trying to remake anything,” Glover says, but rather “just trying to replicate the wonder you felt as an audience member.”
Jason Lynch


Emily Calandrelli
TV Host, STEM Advocate

You may know Calandrelli, who calls herself “the Space Gal,” from hosting Xploration Outer Space or as a correspondent on Netflix’s Bill Nye Saves The World, but what you might not know that she has two master’s degrees from MIT, where she trained in aeronautics and astronautics and in how to properly communicate science to policymakers.

As a science communicator, Calandrelli thinks her job is more important now than ever. “The political climate has awoken a science beast in everybody,” she says.

It’s her job, both as a science communicator and children’s book author, to produce good work even if it’s difficult. “The science community is unforgiving of errors, but I’ve had to overcome the fear of getting something wrong and getting attacked online,” she says. “Correct yourself publicly if you need to, but there’s no harm in trying.”
Sami Main


Kumail Nanjiani
Actor, Writer, Podcast Host

Two seasons into starring on HBO’s Silicon Valley, Nanjiani decided it might be a good time to start taking acting classes for the first time. It wasn’t because he couldn’t keep up with the demands of his character, Dinesh. On the horizon there was an opportunity for Nanjiani to star in a movie that he would co-write with his wife, Emily Gordon, based on the duo’s own spectacular love story—The Big Sick.

“Making a movie is so hard and there are just so many things that can go wrong that this was just a part of it that I didn’t want to feel nervous about,” Nanjiani tells Adweek.

The comic has built his career shifting from project to project, adding a number of impressive accolades along the way. He has built a loyal, 1.5 million-deep following on Twitter, gained critical acclaim for his debut one-man show “Unpronounceable” in 2007, created two wildly successful podcasts and, of course, caught the eye of Amazon Studios at Sundance this year, which offered up $12 million for his film.

The Big Sick hits theaters at the end of the month, and at the moment the comedian has been road tripping with fellow co-stars Aidy Bryant, Ray Romano and Kurt Braunohler on a comedy tour to promote the film. Between tour legs, Nanjiani spoke to Adweek about what he loved most about making his new film, his experience acting alongside Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Snoop Dogg in an Old Navy ad and what’s next.

Check out our Adweek’s interview with him here.
Katie Richards

Kumail Nanjiani photographed by Marc Royce for Adweek. Martellus Bennett photo courtesy The Imagination Agency. All other photos via Getty Images.
Words by Adweek Staff


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