[15 to Watch in 2015]

Roberta Medina, festival strategist

Roberta Medina.
Photo: Rodrigo Esper

Roberta Medina was just 6 years old when her father, Brazilian media/advertising mogul Roberto Medina, produced the record-breaking Rock in Rio in 1985. At the second edition six years later, she was only interested in one thing: headliner New Kids on the Block. But for the third fest in 2001, Roberta officially joined the family business as a production coordinator, and it changed her life. She saw—and would continue to create—a multi-generational experience that transcended its musical appeal. “We call it Rock in Rio Festival, but it’s not rock, it’s not in Rio, it’s not a traditional festival,” she says.

Come May, Medina and her staff will stage the theme-park-like Rock in Rio on the Strip for its first-ever stateside edition. They’ve already attracted superstars (Taylor Swift, Metallica), with more of the lineup to be announced January 13, and—with MGM Resorts’ help—have begun building Vegas’ newest festival apparatus. Now, Medina must sell a new product to both festivalgoers normally fixated on musical details (tickets go on sale January 20) and American corporations still hesitant to embrace festival sponsorships. She needs the presence of both for Rock in Rio to succeed—and launch a legacy in Las Vegas. “We are coming to the U.S. to stay, not to have a one-shot thing,” she says.

If she can repeat what transpired last May at Rock in Rio Lisbon—where attendees participated in street-dancing lessons, grooved all night to DJs under a steel spider, zip-lined across the main-stage crowd and gasped when Bruce Springsteen came out to sing “Tumbling Dice” with The Rolling Stones—she’ll establish another only-in-Vegas institution.

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