25 Rising Stars in Hollywood and the Entertainment Business for 2023


Jillian Novak, Xavier Salas, and Nick Walsh, Hulu

L-R: Xavier Salas, Jillian Novak, and Nick Walsh of Hulu

From left: Salas, Novak, and Walsh.

Xavier Salas, Jillian Novak, Nick Walsh

Promoting Hulu’s smash comedy “Only Murders in the Building” is a plum job — and also one that never ends, considering the show’s passionate fan base. It falls to a tight crew that includes Jillian Novak, 42, creative marketing lead; Xavier Salas, 40, director, originals marketing; and Nick Walsh, 38, director, originals social media, who make sure the marketing hits the right notes, feed the show’s social media presence, and work with other Disney divisions to cross-promote it — work that’s helped make “OMITB” Hulu’s most-viewed original comedy series ever.

The show’s award-winning campaigns have had a larger-than-life quality. A Times Square display to promote season 2 featured the series’ leads as they ascend a 3-D rendered elevator; QR codes on the display let viewers enter to win tickets to a nearby gallery with a pop-up experiential exhibit based on the show.

“It was such a visual, interactive location — it was a really great coordinated effort,” Novak said.

The trio also feeds fans’ love for mystery, whether by sneaking the show’s return date into promotional copy or hiding puzzles in social posts. With the show’s third season premiering amid the actors’ strike this past summer, the team put more emphasis on fan engagement, a shift that may well outlast the work stoppage. “We had to be scrappier than before. Now that the strike is over, we’ll have a more comprehensive playbook,” Novak said.

Novak’s other creative marketing campaigns have included “The Kardashians,” “Candy” starring Jessica Biel, and “The D’Amelio Show”; she previously worked in creative advertising for Sony Pictures on films as varied as “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” “Greyhound,” and “Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island.” 

Outside of “OMITB,” Salas has shepherded marketing for prestige dramas like the Emmy-winning “Dopesick” and “Candy” as well as comedy series “History of the World, Part II.” Before Hulu, he worked for Netflix on “Stranger Things,” “Birdbox,” and more.

Walsh directs social campaigns for other Hulu Originals, including “Futurama,” “History of the World, Part II,” and “The Dropout.” Notable accomplishments included collaborating with Mel Brooks on a Reddit AMA that attracted over 2,000 questions; and partnering with Amanda Seyfried to recreate the viral success of her wacky dance from Elizabeth Holmes biopic miniseries “The Dropout.”

While the trio wait for “OMITB’s” season four, they’re poring over scripts to conjure up ways to keep the audience juiced and bring in new viewers. “That’s the nature of a franchise,” Salas said. “It’s always hard. We never rest on ‘Only Murders.'”

What’s the biggest challenge for the entertainment industry in 2024?
Walsh: “Ethical AI is going to be a big line to toe. The technology is fantastic, but consumers are wary. It would be great to use it in marketing but the moment you do, you could lose trust with the consumer.”
Most recent binge: Salas: “Sex Education” (Netflix) and “Black Cake” (Hulu)
Guilty entertainment pleasure: Novak: “I gotta be a Hulu girl with ‘The Kardashians.'” Walsh: “I find no shame in anything, but you can catch me at 11 on TikTok. It keeps me so entertained.”

— Lucia Moses

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