If you were unsure that being a Broadway superfan was a way to make a living, just take one look at the famous @BroadwayGirlNYC, Laura Heywood. She started the anonymous Twitter account in 2009, and it EXPLODED. She began anonymously writing for BroadwayWorld as an advocate for the theatre experience and didn’t reveal her true identity until (cue “DUN DUN DUUUUUN”) 2015's TEDxBroadway. Because of this reveal, she’s been able to launch a social media company and maintain her status as a Broadway Expert...which paved the way for her to do cool stuff like host interviews with Broadway A-Listers for the AOL BUILD series. - BM
Click her photo above to see Laura's AOL BUILD interview with fellow 40 Under 40 star Ali Stroker.
Are you a fan of The Red Carpet Challenge or Broadway Game Night? This hottie hosts BOTH of them! He’s a talented actor, musician, broadway personality...oh, and he does YouTube skits called “BROadway” with his friend Reed Campbell which are hilarious! He’s “innovating the way artists approach the business by inspiring others to utilize their talents," according to his website bio, and we could NOT AGREE MORE! If this dude isn't on your daily rotation, make that adjustment to your schedule STAT. - BM
Click the photo above to watch Matt bro out with Reed as they get drunk and watch the 2016 Tony Award nomination livestream.
This woman has one of the most powerful positions in the Broadway community: she is the Director of Programming at the supper club 54 Below. If you are lucky enough to be chosen by her to perform in the club, you’re going to fly, baby, fly. Oh, did we also mention that she’s a world renowned theater historian and the author of “The Untold Stories of Broadway” book series? She has the inside scoop on everything that's happening in the NYC theater scene. She’s also just cool AF. - BM
Click the picture above for her extremely cool TEDxBroadway presentation (nbd) about Broadway theaters as the buildings they are.
No one can deny Nachman is funny AF. She doesn't hold back her Broadway superfandom in her multiple-times-a-day tweets even though she works in the industry as a PR rep for major shows like Dear Evan Hansen (nbd), Beautiful, and Fun Home. Who says Broadway's biggest cheerleaders can't actually do it for living? Her well-known BFF status with Broadway A-lister Laura Benanti makes you wonder which of them is the straight (wo)man in that team. - TC
Get a sense of Chelsea's dry humor by clicking the photo above for a video of her announcing who won Annoying Actor Friend's (see below) Awarsies for marketing and PR.
Theater aficionado. Impressive tap dancer. Extremely thoughtful critic. Choose any of those descriptions, and you would still be understating this 8-year-old's infectious enthusiasm for all things Broadway. Iain has been seeing and reviewing theater all over the US since 2011, and we hope for our sake that this little man doesn’t stop. Ever. As they say in Hamilton: "Let's get this guy in front of a crowd!" Iain has recently started conquering the world of acting and is on HBO's Big Little Lies...and it was just announced that he'll be playing Young Sheldon in a Big Bang Theory spinoff, nbd. - TC
Even though he is several years older and much more refined these days, check out the video that catapulted him to fame by clicking the video above. We highly recommend going down a YouTube hole on his channel and watching all his other reviews, too!
Do you have that one annoying actor friend? Well, Andrew Briedis is, LITERALLY, the @AnnoyingActorFriend...on Twitter. If you are an actor or have a friend who is an actor or aspiring actor, his satire will have you hitting “retweet” with a nod of “yep, me”. For three years, the Twitter account was anonymous (very @BroadwayGirlNYC of him), but in December of 2015 we were finally introduced to the sheer awesome that is Andrew. Since then, he’s created a blog (hello, Tony Awards drinking game!), empowered actors to get involved with Actor’s Equity Association, and was the driving force behind the viral movement #Dim4Joan, which caused the Broadway League to reverse their decision to not dim the lights for Joan Rivers. We LOVE how he uses his voice to empower and take action! - BM
Click the picture above to see a video of Andrew auditioning for Michelle Tanner in Fuller House. Yep.
We can’t have a Top 40 list of any kind without including the man himself, but in what category? He's pretty much in charge of the entire institution of theater at this point, so we've decided to focus on him as an influencer. Probably the most influential part of all of his work has been changing the way Broadway casts shows. His first production, In the Heights, put Latinos front and center without highlighting them as gang members. His next big Broadway hit, which is arguably the most ingenuitive of our time, completely set the groundwork for people of color to take on roles that would traditionally go to caucasians. An Asian-American as the wife of our Treasury Secretary? African-Americans leading the Revolutionary War? A rap musical? Everything about Lin’s work is about breaking barriers between performer and audience and making theater accessible to everyone, not just the majority. Plus, he has over ONE MILLION followers on Twitter, making him an influencer of influencers. One tweet from Lin changes the game -- it helps a fan make the perfect mix for her secret love, helps raise $2,000+ for charity, and even changes the way Twitter formats their gifs. Can we literally start talking about getting him into the White House in 2020? - BM
Click above to watch his opening monologue as host of SNL.
The theater critic world is changing. A ten-paragraph analysis of a show is dull and boring in the world of instant-gratification and social media. Enter Louis Peitzman, stage right: he’s a senior entertainment editor for BuzzFeed, and the only writer who covers Broadway for the site. If he tweets about a show, ticket sales will probably increase and it becomes a hot topic of conversation. It helps that he's a Broadway superfan and most of his picks are fresh and exciting...and that’s what we like! - BM
Watch the Facebook Live video starting at 14:45 to see Louis hosting Buzzfeed's Oscar party by clicking his photo above.
Kelvin Moon Loh came out of the shadows of treading the boards with one Facebook post. A cast member of The King and I at Lincoln Center, Loh wrote an impassioned firsthand account of a mother pleading with her autistic child to be quiet while an audience twittered around them that people “like that” shouldn’t go to the theater. This instantly catapulted him to fame as an activist in the Broadway community. In his post Loh said, “Her plan, as was yours, was to have an enjoyable afternoon at the theater and slowly her worst fears came true.” Since then, Loh has become an advocate for autism-friendly performances. He also appeared in the Broadway-bound The Spongebob Musical in Chicago last summer. Thanks to Kelvin for standing up for the people in this world who need it the most! -AS
Check out a short video of him explaining the now famous incident by clicking his photo above.
Frank is a fixture on every New Yorker's favorite television channel: NY1. He covers theater for their weekly show "On Stage", worked on a spinoff show about regional US theater with former Playbill editor Blake Ross, and also hosts Broadway stars at his frequent "Show Biz After Hours" cabaret nights at Birdland Jazz Club. Anyone who is famous enough to play themselves (!) on Smash definitely makes it into our 40 Under 40 list! - SM
Click the video above for his interview with fellow 40 Under 40 Influencer Iain Armitage.