Monday, October 1, 2012

TV's Most Influential Women 2012: Under 30

Nina Dobrev, Lea Michele, and Blake Lively (Getty)

From singing sensations to vampire loving teens, some of the hottest young actresses in Hollywood are on the small screen. But the talented young stars on our list, all under 30, aren't just flavors of the month (well, one might be). Some of them have been working in the entertainment industry for over a decade, while others rose to fame thanks to star-making performances on hit shows. Four of the young ladies on the list come from reality shows, while the rest hail from good ol' scripted TV.

Ratings, social media power, awards, and number of years in the business all informed our final list of 2012's 10 most influential TV women under 30.

1. Lea Michele
Age: 26

Lea Michele has had a whirlwind couple of years. The Broadway actress became an overnight sensation when she was cast in a then little-known project from Nip/Tuck creator Ryan Murphy about a high school Glee club. Three ye`rs later, Michele is a red carpet fixture (her fierce posing skills are renowned) who's been nominated for an Emmy and two Golden Globes. And thanks to Glee's massive iTunes sales, her distinct belting voice is recognizable all over the world. Earlier this month, Lea Michele also inked an endorsement deal with L'OrĂ©al Paris worth a reported $1 million. Not too shabby for a girl from the Bronx. 

Michele is more than just a pretty face and a nice set of pipes, though. She's an inspiration to her young fans, who see themselves in the actress and in her Glee character. Her face is plastered all over websites and Tumblr blogs, and her fans proudly call themselves "Leanatics." She became a big star because of her big talent, and that's not exactly commonplace nowadays. Long after Glee has sung its last song, Lea Michele will still be going strong.

2. Kaley Cuoco
Age: 26

Kaley Cuoco is no overnight success. The beautiful yet goofy actress has been working in Hollywood since she was 6. These days she makes TV audiences laugh every week as Penny onThe Big Bang Theory, which is the highest rated comedy on television. According to TV Guide, Cuoco nets $300,000 per episode on Big Bang, making her one of the highest paid actresses on the small screen. 

Cuoco doesn't court the spotlight the way that some of her contemporaries do, but she still manages to nab her share of attention. In 2011 she was voted #13 on Maxim's Hot 100 list and in 2012 she hosted the People's Choice Awards. Kaley Cuoco is TV's reigning geek queen, and that's just how the young actress likes it.

3. Nina Dobrev
Age: 23

When The Vampire Diaries first hit the tube in 2009, many brushed it off as a Twilight wannabe, eager to ride the coattails of the bloodsucker craze. Three years later, The Vampire Diarieshas proven itself to be a consistently compelling slice of supernatural fun, and series star Nina Dobrev has become one of the most popular young stars on TV. 

The Canadian actress plays Elena Gilbert, an everyday teenager torn between two vampire brothers. Though it's not exactly a ratings powerhouse, The Vampire Diaries audience has proven very loyal and impressively vocal. During episodes the show regularly trends on Twitter and other social media platforms like Get Glue, and Dobrev herself has a staggering 2.6 million Twitter followers. She's also become a fashion fixture — the actress nabbed front row seats at the hottest shows during New York Fashion Week and her Met Ball gown was custom designed by Donna Karan. When Bella Swan is ready to hand over her vampire girl crown, Dobrev is more than ready to take over the title. 

4. The Pretty Little Liars
Age: Lucy Hale (23), Shay Mitchell (25), Troian Bellisario (26),
Ashley Benson (22)

You might not be watching Pretty Little Liars, but your teenager daughters (or sisters or cousins) most certainly are. The ABC Family drama about four high school girls banding together against an anonymous foe named "A," has generated tons of buzz and made stars out of its young cast. Lucy HaleShay MitchellTroian Bellisario, and Ashley Benson have become red carpet fixtures, nabbed sweet endorsement deals with brands like Bongo and American Eagle, and racked up 11 Teen Choice Awards. 

They're also huge in the social media sphere — according to ABC Family, the Season 3 summer finale of Pretty Little Liars generated more than 709,000 tweets. That's about 11,816 tweets for every minute she show was on television. With ample talent and loads of devoted fans, Lucy Hale, Shay Mitchell, Troian Bellisario, and Ashley Benson look poised to have major careers long after their Liar days are through. 

5. Miranda Cosgrove 
Age: 19

At just 19, Miranda Cosgrove is already a Hollywood veteran. She's been acting since she was 3, appearing in commercials and films like School of Rock opposite Jack Black. Cosgrove's star really rocketed when she nabbed the lead role in Nickelodeon's Internet-themed comedy iCarly. Debuting in 2007, the series about teenagers who create their own popular web show is regularly among the top kids' shows on basic cable and has boasted some seriously impressive guest stars, including Michelle ObamaEmma Stone, and boy band sensation One Direction. 

When she's not cracking up the tween set, Miranda Cosgrove is busy building her burgeoning music career and voicing characters in high-profile animated flicks like Despicable Me. The starlet is also attending the University of Southern California and plans to major in either theater or writing. What a smart cookie! 

6. Kylie and Kendall Jenner
Age: Kendall (16), Kylie (15)

When Kim, Kourtney, and Khloe decide it's time to settle down and step out of the spotlight (as if), Kylie and Kendall Jennerare more than ready to carry on the Kardashian family legacy. The teens boast a combined 6.6 million Twitter followers, and have walked the runways during New York Fashion Week. Kendall is even beginning to get into acting (she'll appear onHawaii 5-0 this season). Oh, and they've also got O.P.I. nail colors named after them ("All Kendall-ed Up," "Kendall on the Katwalk," "Wear Something Spar-kylie," and "Rainbow in the S-kylie"). Though they may have a gaggle of ultra-successful siblings, Kendall and Kylie have become little superstars in their own rights. 

7. Blake Lively
Age: 25

Gossip Girl made Blake Lively a star, but Blake Lively also made Gossip Girl the watercooler hit that it was. The actress became an overnight sensation when the CW drama premiered in 2005, but it wasn't just the racy scenes and the dishy drama that had everyone talking — it was Lively's statuesque blond beauty and her mile-long legs. She was old Hollywood glamour mixed with a sun-kissed California vibe, and she was obviously a star. 

Lively has parlayed her small screen good fortune into big screen roles in films like The Town,Green Lantern, and Savages, spreading her wings far beyond Serena van der Woodsen. She's even got her very own celebrity husband, Ryan Reynolds, who she married in a secret ceremony that had gossip mags all atwitter. Gossip Girl may be ending this year, but Blake Lively's reign in Hollywood is clearly just beginning. 

8. Lena Dunham
Age: 26

Unless you were living under a rock this year, you probably heard about GirlsLena Dunham's buzzy HBO comedy that attracted fervid praise and harsh criticism in equal amounts. The Hollywood Reporter's Tim Goodman called the show "one of the most original, spot-on, no-missed-steps series in recent memory." Meanwhile, in a piece titled "What the Hell Was HBO Thinking?", Mother Jones described Girls as "profoundly bland, unstoppably irritating … has all the creative energy and maturity of Are You There, Chelsea?" The Emmys awarded the polarizing show with five nominations, including one for Best Comedy and another for Dunham in the Lead Actress category. 

For the creator, writer, producer, and actress (Dunham wears many, many hats), Girls is just trying to tell an authentic story. "My hope is that the show has a long life and I get to look at so many aspects of what it means to be a woman, of what it means to live in an urban environment. I think it will grow as I grow," she told The New York Times recently. 

9. Kelly Osbourne
Age: 27

She rose to fame as the punky little sis on MTV's The Osbournes, but since then Kelly Osbourne has blazed her own path into the world of entertainment. After a few rough years that involved an addiction to prescription pills and a couple of rehab stints, Osbourne has emerged as a major player in the world of TV fashion. These days you can catch her interviewing Hollywood's biggest stars on the red carpet for E!, and dissecting the latest celebrity style trends on Fashion Police with Joan Rivers. The outspoken star is a sartorial trendsetter in her own right, sporting lavender locks and quirky designer duds. No trend-chasing here, just a larger than life personality and a unique style that's all her own.

10. Honey Boo Boo
Age: 7

Even if you don't like Honey Boo Boo, you probably spent at least part of your summer talking about her. The seven-year-old, whose real name is Alana Thompson, had one of the most talked about new shows to come around in a long time, thanks to her proudly redneck family and their jaw-dropping antics. TLC's Here Comes Honey Boo Boo dominated the summer TV conversations, and also boasted some impressive ratings, even beating out the Republican National Convention during its time slot. It's hard to say just how long America's love affair with Honey Boo Boo will last, but it's safe to say that Alana and the rest of the Thompson family are loving their ride on the 15 Minutes of Fame train.


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