Women on Top Awards: The Transformers

For Marie Claire's third annual Women on Top Awards, we combed the country for the up-and-comers leading thought-revolutions, creating businesses, and making names for themselves in fields from the military to the arts. None is a day over 40, with a couple of notable exceptions: We've added a "Super Woman" category to celebrate women of any age who made their mark on 2012. But their accomplishments speak for themselves...

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October 22, 2012 9:33 AM
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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."