There are all the other lists … and then there’s ’Essence’s 2023 Power 40

The doers. The disruptors. The dreamers.

That’s the way Essence describes the 40 people on its inaugural list of power players

J. Cole, LeBron James, Winnie Harlow and Maverick Carter are among the 2023 class of Power 40 VIPs, those “who are moving our culture forward, all while making, local, national and even global impact.”

James and Carter are recognized for their contributions to media and advertising, Harlow for her multidisciplinary career across the beauty and supermodel worlds, and rapper J. Cole for influential music that continues to shape hip-hop. 

Cole’s named alongside Dreamville partners Ibrahim “IB” Hamad and Adam Roy for the success of the Dreamville Festival and the label’s A-list roster of talent that is Ari LennoxBas and more. 

Much of the list is made up of the all-important behind-the-scenes players like Empire Records President Tina Davis; former Atlantic Records SVP and founder of Culture Creators, Joi Brown; Phylicia Fant, who heads up Amazon’s music industry partnerships division; and Warner Records A&R Ericka Coulter

Power 40 also includes a collection of founders — CEOs who have created and found space in their businesses for people of color. There’s Niesha Butler and her stem-focused Steam Champs, former NASA rocket scientist Aisha Bowe and Google Tech Equity lead Rachelle C. Olden, as well as Felecia Hatcher, who heads up Pharrell Williams‘ Black Ambition Opportunity Fund. 

Danita Johnson‘s listed for her achievements as the president of D.C. United and the first Black female president of any Major League Soccer Club. Sheila Johnson‘s highlighted for her trailblazing efforts as the co-founder of the Black Entertainment Network. And Sean Tresvant, who’ll become Taco Bell’s new CEO next year, is featured as one of the few Black executives in a Fortune 500 company.

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