Tina Fey, Jerry Seinfeld Front Emmy Icons 2013 Portfolio
THE DOCUMENTARY QUEEN
Sheila Nevins (64 noms, 26 wins)
The 13th-floor screening room for HBO's documentary unit at the network's West 42nd Street headquarters has custom-built shelves along all four walls, on which 50 Emmy statues are situated in a blinding display of hardware.
They wouldn't be there without Nevins, president of HBO Documentary Films, who in the past three decades has produced more than 1000 documentaries, including Spike Lee's Hurricane Katrina epic If God Is Willing and da Creek Don't Rise, Jon Alpert's Baghdad ER and Alex Gibney's Mea Maxima Culpa, which already has been given the 2013 exceptional merit Emmy.
"We are minority players in the Primetime Emmy game," says Nevins, who was given the organization's Governors Award in 2009. "We don’t have makeup, we don’t have costumes. It’s just the story telling itself. It’s a special privilege to be able to tell a story about a person that nobody knows and to make that story shine enough so that it’s recognized."
She's also helped to cultivate a diverse, new generation of filmmakers, including Alexandra Pelosi (Journeys With George), Jessica Yu (Breathing Lessons) and Meema Spadola (Breasts). And it was actually Nevins' idea to have late Sopranos star James Gandolfini interview wounded veterans for Alpert's 2007 film Alive Day Memories: Home From Iraq. "It's a weird profession in that you're kind of chasing sorrow," she says. "But you're also enlightening people about the universality of emotion."
Nevins cut her teeth in the business working with 60 Minutes legend Don Hewitt on the CBS newsmagazine Who's Who, and she also boasts 28 News & Documentary Emmys, which are given by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences; in 2005, she received the organization's Lifetime Achievement Award.
The New York native and married mother of a grown son is humbled by her Emmy haul, which includes this year's documentary special trophy for the Osama bin Laden film Manhunt and the 2005 . "It's always meaningful to be recognized," says Nevins. "My Lifetime Achievement award was particularly sweet! But the rest were definitely team efforts. It takes a village to make a film."
Photographed by Dorothy Hong on Aug. 27 at Nevins’ office in New York City