The 100 Most Influential People of 2020
Jamel Toppin—The Forbes Collection/Contour RA/Getty Images
By Arianna Huffington
September 22, 2020 9:34 PM EDT

It’s like a Hollywood story: a woman takes over from her father to run the family business her grandfather helped build, and along the way, she confronts—and dispatches—challenge after challenge as she ultimately proves the doubters wrong. Over the past few years, Shari Redstone, now the chairperson of ViacomCBS, ended more than a decade of legal wrangling over who would succeed her father Sumner Redstone, who died this August at the age of 97, at the helm of the family’s sprawling media empire, which includes Viacom, CBS, Paramount Pictures and many other divisions.

She’s proved herself every bit as tough and shrewd a businessperson as her extraordinary father, leading the $12 billion merger of CBS and Viacom last year. But she’s also done it her own way—with grace and humanity, proving that strength is not incompatible with empathy and warmth. Every time I see Shari, we spend more time talking about her grandchildren than we do about business (which includes her role as an investor in Thrive Global).

Certainly she has more challenges ahead. She’s taken over at a time of profound disruption in the entertainment and media industries. But with the succession battles behind her, she’s busy with plans to expand into new technologies, digital streaming and international markets as arguably the most powerful woman in Hollywood. Shari is a true trailblazer, and whatever she does next, it will be a sequel well worth watching.

Huffington is founder and CEO of Thrive Global

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