TV It List collage
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Desus & Mero

Yesterday Apple TV+ announced its groundbreaking new slate of programming, led by Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston’s onscreen reunion (and the latter actress’ first post-Friends television role), The Morning Show. But Tim Cook’s team of small screen execs aren’t the only ones shaking up the industry — below, the editors of EW highlight 10 more people who have changed the way we watch (for good).

Phoebe Waller-Bridge

No one plucked Phoebe Waller-Bridge from obscurity. She did it her own damn self by sheer creative force. Crafting Fleabag (with all its many iterations) and spearheading a modern revolution for Sandra Oh on BBC America’s Killing Eve, she’s not just writing meatier, complex roles for women, she’s writing meatier, complex roles, period. Searingly sharp and endlessly inventive, Waller-Bridge — who is currently nominated for four Emmys (three for Amazon Prime Video’s Fleabag and one for Killing Eve) — is pushing the era of “prestige television” into its next evolution, one that definitely includes a “hot priest.” Now, let’s see what the 34-year-old can do for James Bond as she reworks the script for the 25th 007 film, No Time to Die. —Nick Romano

Get more Phoebe: Acting on Broadchurch, writing and acting on Crashing

Steven Canals

Visibility is everything when it comes to social progress — and Steven Canals, who co-created Pose alongside Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, knows that. “Pose bore out of a need for LGBTQ people of color to be positively seen and centered in mainstream media,” the 39-year-old says of the Emmy-nominated FX series, which features one of TV’s largest LGBTQ casts. “I can’t complain about the lack of visibility or opportunities if I’m not actively working to elevate those who, historically, haven’t had a seat at the table. I’m building my own inclusive table.” —Tim Stack

Sam Levinson

It’s not clear whether Sam Levinson, 34, always aspired to make a show that causes parents of Gen-Z kids to blush in enlightened horror, but that is exactly what the first-time series creator did with HBO’s summer smash Euphoria. Of course, this astute knack for delving into intricate interpersonal relationships should come as no surprise, given that he has the 2011 indie gem Another Happy Day in his filmography. And thanks to Euphoria’s season 2 pickup (less than a month into its first season), it looks like Levinson will have us blushing well into 2020. —Clarkisha Kent

Get more Sam: The 2018 film Assassination Nation (he wrote and directed)

Lena Waithe

Two years after breaking out with a deeply personal Master of None episode — and becoming the first black woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series — Lena Waithe is now one of TV’s busiest multi-hyphenates. Among her titles are creator of Showtime’s The Chi, EP of BET’s Boomerang, and actor on season 3 of HBO’s Westworld. But no matter how varied her résumé (the Ready Player One star wrote Queen & Slim, a thriller due out in November), Waithe, 35, knows her true calling: “I was born a TV writer, I’ll die a TV writer.” —Derek Lawrence

Get more Lena: As a writer on season 10 of Bones, acting on Dear White People volume 2

Lilly Singh

NBC may be hungry for a pioneer like Lilly Singh to take over Carson Daly’s 1:35 a.m. slot, but Singh doesn’t exactly need a network show to become mega-famous. The proudly bisexual star, who has amassed 3.1 billion views on YouTube, has been doing quite nicely on her own, thank you very much. Fortunately for NBC, Singh doesn’t see any difference between performing skits like her popular “If Game of Thrones Were Indian” for broadcast versus her YT channel. Not that A Little Late with Lilly Singh hasn’t been an adjustment. “I haven’t had a job like this in 10 years,” says the Canadian daughter of Indian immigrants, 31, who got her start making videos in her childhood bedroom. “I’ve been doing my own thing according to the schedule I make.” With support from the likes of Dwayne Johnson and Trevor Noah, Singh is eager to share her — and her diverse writing staff’s — unique take on life, but she promises to include one late-night mainstay: a desk. “I don’t like sitting pretty,” Singh explains. “Most women are in situations where their pants ride high and their crotch bunches up — just trying to be truthful!” —Lynette Rice

Ava DuVernay

Having skyrocketed to fame with 2014’s Selma and the 2018 big-budget epic A Wrinkle in Time, Ava DuVernay brought her talents to Netflix with When They See Us. The publicist-turned-director’s four-part miniseries (which resulted in 16 Emmy nominations, including three for DuVernay) exposed how there were actually six victims of the infamous Central Park jogger case: a single white female, beaten and raped, and five innocent boys of color, scapegoated and imprisoned for a crime they didn’t commit. It’s the kind of project that makes DuVernay’s pulse race, which is the 47-year-old’s bellwether for deciding what to tackle next. (Among the projects currently elevating her heart rate: directing and co-writing both a fashion movie called The Battle of Versailles for HBO and DC’s upcoming blockbuster New Gods.) “I’m just trying to work on things that resonate with me,” says DuVernay. “So if that’s something about injustice, or that’s something more beautiful, it’s got my attention.” —Lynette Rice

Get more Ava: She directed the heart-wrenching Netflix documentary 13th and Jay-Z’s music video for “Family Feud”

Desus & Mero

Late-night hosts Desus Nice, 38, and The Kid Mero, 36, have always known their brand is strong. The Bronx-raised “Bodega Boys” parlayed their easy chemistry and mad ad-libbing skills into a variety of MTV on-air gigs before landing their own show on Viceland in 2016. Their brilliant, off-the-cuff commentary on news and pop culture caught the attention of Showtime, which snatched up the duo last June to host the network’s first weekly late-night talk show. The budget may be bigger, but the core of Desus and Mero’s comedy remains refreshingly unique: no rehearsed monologues or static celebrity chats, just real-time reactions to headlines (on Game of Thrones’ record number of Emmy nominations, Mero said, “Let me guess — you got one for Best Lighting?”) and bracingly unfiltered interviews (to Zendaya: “What was that Proactiv check lookin’ like?”). These wonderful jesters are making late-night better, one ah ah ah at a time. —Kristen Baldwin

Kevin Feige

After conquering the box office with Avengers: Endgame (now the top-grossing film of all time), Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige is coming for the small screen with eight series in development for Disney+ (launching Nov. 12) that will expand on the already impressive Marvel Cinematic Universe, spotlighting both new heroes (Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk) and familiar faces (Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye). “Up until this point, we only had two or three release slots a year, and there were so many characters that we had ideas for,” says Feige, 46. “We’ve been very lucky with 23 films to do that. But now, with Disney+, we can bring even more.” And thanks to Marvel’s massive library of yet-to-be-adapted superheroes (plus the recent Disney-Fox merger, which gives Disney the rights to the X-Men and the Fantastic Four), the MCU will only keep growing. “We’ve had Marvel Studios for about 12 years now,” Feige says. “Every day it seems we sit down and we [say], ‘What do we want to do? What characters would be great to bring to the screen?'” —Devan Coggan

Robin Thede

The revealing “Hertep” sketch from HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show displays Robin Thede’s love for the clever, the socially relevant, and the ridiculous. But it’s the writer-actress-creator’s penchant for unintentional trailblazing — she was the first black female head writer for a late-night series, The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore; and ABLSS, which just got picked up for season 2, is the first sketch show made for and by black women — as well as her fierce dedication to sharing the wealth as she rises to the top, that proves Thede, 40, is an effervescent talent who’s just getting started. —Clarkisha Kent

Get more Robin: She wrote for The Queen Latifah Show and The Real Husbands of Hollywood

Jada Pinkett Smith

Talk shows have been a standard part of a well-balanced TV diet since the early 1950s, but Jada Pinkett Smith has the concept feeling new all over again. Her refreshingly candid Red Table Talk — which the Girls Trip star, 48, hosts with mom Adrienne and daughter Willow — boasts 6.4 million Facebook followers (a stat made more meaningful because it airs on Facebook Watch). More important, it’s the streaming service’s highest-profile series to date, giving FBW the cred it needs to build on for future success. —Patrick Gomez

Get more Jada: As Fish Mooney on Gotham and in this summer’s Angel Has Fallen

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