The 5 Denisonians behind these 2023 smash hits

January 8, 2024

2023 is in our rearview, but we’re always happy to reflect back on Denison pride. You may be surprised (or not) by the number of Denisonians who showed up in your inbox, on your TV, and across your social channels last year. Let’s reminisce about a few.

Lisa Stewart McKnight ’90

Guardian of the Barbie galaxy

As a child, Lisa McKnight played Barbies on the floors of her parents’ San Francisco home. As an adult, the executive vice president and chief brand officer for Mattel and her team rehabilitated the image of Barbie, who was losing cultural relevance and becoming a symbol of toxic gender norms. That imagination and dedication helped pave the path for 2023’s highest-grossing film, which left us all feeling like we were more than Kenough.

James Clear ’08

Atomic Habits hits #1. Again.

We know you’ve already read it, but it seems more of the world was discovering Clear’s blockbuster book in 2023 — because it once again topped Amazon’s best-seller list, a #1 spot it also enjoyed in 2021. (And for the record, this year Atomic bested the highly anticipated memoirs of both Prince Harry and Britney Spears.)

Kyle Gordon ’14

DJ Crazy Times goes viral

TikTok celeb Gordon had already built up a more than 3 million strong following before “Planet of the Bass” — his viral hit under the Crazy Times guise — broke out in the summer of 2023. As a social media poet once wrote: Life, it never die/Women are my favorite guy.

Chris Dickey ’03

Smoking out Snoop Dogg

Leveraging social media and the power of suggestion, Snoop Dogg dropped an Instagram bomb in November 2023, hinting that he was swearing off marijuana. Social media went wild. When the truth was revealed — Snoop was, in fact, unveiling his partnership with the smokeless Solo Stove — Dickey, the founder of PR agency Purple Orange, helped maximize the media coverage for their client.

Lyn Moncrief ’96

A truly frightening Freddy

An established cinematographer with a string of films to his name — including Vengeance, The Wind, and The Passenger — Moncrief took on the visuals for the horror hit Five Nights at Freddy’s, based on the popular video game series. It’s the perfect family flick for the nights you’re craving a story about demented animatronic mascots running amok in a shuttered pizzeria.

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