Words by Nicole Duncan-Smith

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Hip-Hop had no place in Hollywood for years, aside from Will Smith, LL Cool J, Queen Latifah, Ice Cube and Ice T. Only a few have found comfort in front of the camera and even fewer have found their space in behind the lens. However, over the last few years things have been changing in regards to content and those who create it. So it was no surprise to us that some of our fave TV and Film execs have found themselves on The Hollywood Reporter’s 50 Most Powerful TV Showrunners of 2017.

See if you agree.


Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang
Master of None (Netflix)

We definitely agree that Ansari and Yang has had Netflix in a choke-hold for the last year. This season of Master of None was superb and explored so many aspects of immigrant culture and lifted ever so slowly the New York Hip-Hop turned Hipster in the the coolest ways. It was out hope that the Emmy winning Lena Waithe would have gotten a shout out for her masterful penning of Thanksgiving (S2E8). Oh well, we have next year.

Kenya Barris
Black-ish (ABC); Grown-ish (Freeform)

Kenya Barris is unapolegitically one of our favorite TV execs. This HBCU grad brings funny and social commentary together like a fire hyrdrant and hot kids in the summer for us. Can’t wait to see Grown-ish, because if this week’s season premiere is any evidence of what we can expect, it will be as impactful as A Different World but as fresh and new as the show that birthed it, Black-ish,

Ilene Chaiken, Lee Daniels and Danny Strong
Empire (Fox)

Empire is probably the epitome of Hip-Hop TV. Originally modeled after Dynasty, Lee Daniels, Ilene Chaiken and Danny Strong have created a phenomenon that seems to have a life of its own. Cookie, Lucious, Hakeem and the crew are family. We know them and we are rocking with this family all day.

Ava DuVernay
Queen Sugar (OWN)

While most people want to rush to thank exclusively Queen Mother Oprah Winfrey, we know that her passing the baton (and the golden key) to Queen Sister Ava was a rites of passage that everyone Hip-Hopper was all the way here for. The Queen Sugar story line is dope and we love how militant Nova is and how business savvy Charlie is, but the buzz of the season and the genius of the franchise celebrates the show’s runaway star Ralph Angel. But Ava is not just a boss because of Queen Sugar, but because of Wrinkle in Time, 13th and her ARRAY and African-American Film Festival Releasign Movement. Empowerment is about creating content we want to see and getting butts in the seat to actually see it.

Donald Glover
Atlanta (FX)

Whether we are calling him Childish Gambino or Donald Glover, this cat has proven that he can do Hollywood anyway he wants to. He made history at the Emmys taking home the award for Outstanding Lead Actor and Directing in Comedy Series for Atlanta, and received a nod for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. We can’t wait for season 2 which is finally being filmed as we speak.

Courtney Kemp
Power (Starz)

Power is the hottest show on television right now, hands down. The complex storyline and sudden plot twists just leaves you yearning for more. It makes it all better that 50 Cent is attached to the hit series and stars as the antagonist who we still got love for.

Prentice Penny and Issa Rae
Insecure (HBO)

Aside from the relatable series of events in the life of Black women, Insecure is so Hip Hop because of the soundtrack. The show serves as a platform for underground artists and has unreleased music from some of our favorite artists like Jasmine Sullivan, Bryson Tiller, and SZA just to name a few.

Tyler Perry
If Loving U Is Wrong, The Haves and the Have Nots (OWN); Too Close to Home (TLC)

NewWe agree that Tyler Perry earned his place on this list. He knows how to portray different aspects of the Black family like religion, roles, extended family and more. His work that resonates with us in a way that we can’t resist. Who doesn’t love Madea?

Shonda Rhimes
Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, How to Get Away With Murder (ABC)

Grey’s Anatomy has been on air for 12 years and counting. While the series already has a huge following, Shonda secured her place on the list with the creation of Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder.  She resonated with all successful, independent women worldwide. Shonda owns Thursday nights.