The most influential up-and-comers of 2015

Five Torontonians on the verge of big things

Stephan James
(Image: Getty Images)

The Future Oscar Fave

Stephan James, 21

His supporting roles in Selma, The Book of Negroes and The L.A. Complex earned him a spot in the TIFF Rising Stars program (Tatiana Maslany is an alumna). His starring role in Race, the biopic about Olympian Jesse Owens, will mark his breakout.  

Ryan Merkley
(Image: courtesy of Creative Commons)

The Digital Sage

Ryan Merkley, 37

The CEO of online-copyright company Creative Commons is a former advisor to David Miller, ex-COO of Mozilla Foundation and an authority on open government. The White House summoned him on three occasions to advise on open data, education and research.  

Alessia Cara
(Image: Getty Images)

The Pop Prodigy

Alessia Cara, 19

The Brampton singer ended 2015 with a Jimmy Fallon performance under her belt, an onstage appearance with Taylor Swift, a single that reached number three on the Billboard R&B charts, and both a debut EP and full-length album on Def Jam Recordings.  

Alex Josephson
(Image: courtesy of Partisans)

The Design Mastermind

Alex Josephson, 32

Through Partisans, the promising young architecture firm he co-founded in 2011, Josephson has helped revitalize Union Station; Toronto’s most stunning restaurant, Bar Raval; and the award-winning Grotto Sauna in Georgian Bay.  

Michele Romanow
(Image: Erin Leydon)

The Tech Titan

Michele Romanow, 30

The e-commerce phenom has founded four companies: Buytopia, SnapSaves (which was bought by Groupon), a caviar distributor and an eco-friendly coffee shop. This year, she joined the cast of Dragons’ Den, where she’ll mentor and fund like-minded entrepreneurs.

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