To assemble the photograph to the left, we surveyed dozens of the city’s influentials across various fields for six New Yorkers who will be players 40 years from now. Below, perhaps the first, and certainly not the last, you’ll read about them.
Micah Lasher, Politician, 26
Before graduating from NYU, Lasher co-founded KnickerbockerSKD, an upstart consulting firm that quickly grew into a political powerhouse, representing Mayor Bloomberg, Christine Quinn, Robert Morgenthau, and megaunion SEIU 1199. His instincts are those of a troublemaker, and he took the heat for designing a racially tinged flyer in 2001 for Mark Green. Now Lasher wants to get into politics himself; he recently took a post at Jerry Nadler’s office, and is planning to run for City Council next year. If he wins, he could run for a citywide post—mayor?—before he turns 35. “Micah can see through things, and knows how to win a tough fight,” says Nadler. “He could run for anything.”
Ramin Bahrani, Filmmaker, 33
Columbia grad Bahrani has already defined himself on the international film scene with three landmark pieces of street cinema. Man Push Cart mythologizes the day-to-day life of a midtown Pakistani street-cart vendor. Chop Shop captures the hardscrabble survival of two Latino street kids in Queens. His latest, Goodbye Solo, follows a Senegalese cabdriver through North Carolina—and just won the critics’ prize at Venice. Bahrani’s startlingly assured films—often featuring amateur actors—are the next chapter in the urban ethnic story told in turns by Lumet, Cassavetes, Scorsese, Allen, and Lee. This Iranian-American New Yorker is poised to redefine polyglot New York cinema.
Conrad Tao, Musician, 14
“I’ve never seen anything like Conrad Tao,” says Yoheved Kaplinsky, a piano teacher at Juilliard, “and I’ve seen a lot of prodigies.” Tao, a student at Juilliard’s precollege division, started violin lessons at age 3, and piano lessons six months later. He has since performed both violin and piano concertos with prestigious orchestras around the world, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, and the Russian National Orchestra. He has also been winning composition prizes since the age of 7, and his first commissioned piano concerto premiered in Ohio last October. “It’s not about leading him somewhere,” says Kaplinsky of Tao’s future career. “It’s simply following what he can do.”
Leslie Hewitt, Artist, 31
Hewitt has had as good a year as a young New York artist could ask for: Her work was featured in the 2008 Whitney Biennial and is now up simultaneously at the Gagosian Gallery and the Studio Museum in Harlem, where she recently completed a prestigious residency. Hewitt’s art combines personal artifacts like family photos with more traditional found items to explore the intersection of personal memory and history. A graduate of Cooper Union and the Yale M.F.A. program, she approaches her career with a steadiness that impresses many observers. “What she’s dealing with as a subject matter has resonance beyond the now,” says Naomi Beckwith, a curator at the Studio Museum. Where does she see Hewitt’s work in 2048? “Well out of my price range.”
Zoe Kazan, Actress, 25
Two years after making her New York stage debut, Kazan is on her fifth production (The Seagull, in previews on Broadway)— and will soon appear in films by Sam Mendes and Richard Linklater as well. “When I was casting her, I asked Cynthia Nixon what she had thought, and she said that there was nobody whose success she felt more sure of than Zoe Kazan,” says Ethan Hawke, who directed her last fall in Things We Want. “She’s a throwback. She’s an old-school Actors Studio actress,” he says, noting her pedigree—her grandfather was Oscar-winning director Elia Kazan; her parents are both screenwriters. “She could easily be one of the most serious actresses of her generation,” says Hawke.
Annie Park, Golfer, 13
What New York athlete currently alive has a chance of dominating her sport in 40 years? Most likely, a golfer (average player age: 44), and our money’s on Levittown native Park. She started playing four years ago; last month, she secured the top spot in the Girls Division of the CNL Lifestyle Company Junior Championship, and placed third in a tournament in France. “She’s longer off the tee than most girls in her age group,” says Rob Jansen of the American Junior Golf Association. “You’d have to get a few years older to find girls hitting a ball at a similar length.” The AJGA fosters a lot of young talent, only some of whom turn pro, and “Annie’s certainly in that pool,” he says. “She’s got it.”
Bahrani on Making Chop Shop