9. Top Performer
Nina Arianda, 28, actress
Résumé: Arianda grew up in New Jersey, 30 minutes from the Broadway stage where her turn in Venus in Fur earned her the 2012 Best Actress Tony Award. The youngest actress ever nominated for back-to-back Tonys her first nod was for her Broadway debut in Born Yesterday &38212; will star as Janis Joplin in a just-announced biopic set to film next year.
Path to the Top: "I was into opera as a kid I'd play Carmen and sing and dance. My mom signed me up for a theater group before preschool, and I never looked back."
Defining Moment: "When I won the Tony, I blacked out. I don't remember anything. I had bullet points jotted down, but I forgot to read half of them. My hands were shaking. It was an insane honor to be recognized in that way."
A Star Is Born: "When I was 3, I recited a poem at a festival in Passaic, New Jersey. The applause was tremendous, and it hit me that I could affect people positively by performing."