Hollywood's Most Powerful Women Reveal the Best and Worst Things About Working in Showbiz
Thirty powerhouses from THR’s Women in Entertainment Power 100 list get candid about the pros (“the ideas, the drive, the dream”) and the cons (“Egos and bad manners”) of working in Hollywood.
The Hollywood Reporter's Women in Entertainment Power 100 list this year includes the likes of Ellen DeGeneres, ABC entertainment president Channing Dungey and producer Nina Jacobson, along with dozens more high-powered women behind the industry’s top networks, studios and agencies.
As part of the annual feature, THR asked the honorees a series of questions about their careers, leadership strategies and morning routines. Acknowledging that working in Hollywood comes with plenty of perks and just as many headaches, 30 of the Power 100 reveal the best and worst thing about running the show (or studio or production company).
Sarah Barnett, president and GM, BBC America
Best thing about working in Hollywood: The ideas, the drive, the dream.
Worst thing about working in Hollywood: The normalizing of spin, so that it's habitual even when there's no need. Plus, most of us use too many words without knowing what we really want to say. Maybe these things come from a similarly insecure place.
Gina Balian, executive vp limited series, FX Networks
Best thing: While reading, listening to stories and watching TV and movies for a living, I’m able to stand in someone else’s shoes every day.
Worst thing: Dinners and drinks.
Lorrie Bartlett, co-head of talent/partners, ICM Partners
Best thing: The audacity of hope (to borrow from Barack Obama).
Worst thing: When you hear, "Take it or leave it."
Ellen DeGeneres, host/producer, The Ellen DeGeneres Show
Best thing: Having people come to me every day instead of touring all over the country. Also, avocados.
Worst thing: It’s very hard to get my hands on gluten.
Nancy Dubuc, president and CEO, A+E Television Networks
Best thing: We're fortunate to be allowed into people's homes every night. It's a privilege and we'd be wise to remember that.
Worst thing: We've gone awards crazy.
Channing Dungey, president, ABC Entertainment
Best thing: This is a truly creative community and I feel lucky to work with people who surprise, inspire and invigorate me daily. I get paid to help talented people tell their stories and there’s truly no better or more fun job to have.
Worst thing: Meetings and sets are spread all over town, but there’s no quick, efficient public transportation to get me from here to there.
Elizabeth Gabler, president, Fox 2000
Best thing: The wonderful people you get to collaborate with from all walks of life.
Worst thing: The hype.
Stephanie Gibbons, president of marketing and on-air promotion, FX Networks
Best thing: You can be surrounded by scores of people who love movies, television and the arts as madly as you do.
Worst thing: Not being able to find any size 16s on the rack.
Patty Glaser, partner and chair of litigation, Glaser Weil Fink Howard Avchen & Shapiro
Best thing: Those people without hidden agendas.
Worst thing: Hidden agendas.
Bonnie Hammer, chairman, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Group
Best thing: Being 3,000 miles away in New York.
Worst thing: See above.
Toni Howard, partner, ICM Partners
Worst thing: Losing a client.
Dawn Hudson, CEO, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Best thing: The friends I've made.
Worst thing: It's hard to maintain a distinction between work and the rest of your life. Constructive disengagement is a tough skill to master.
Veronika Kwan Vandenberg, president of international distribution/growth initiatives, Warner Bros. Pictures
Best thing: Movies, sunshine, living the dream.
Worst thing: Egos and bad manners.
Pamela Levine, president, worldwide theatrical marketing, 20th Century Fox
Best thing: Best thing is that by definition my job is working with creative, interesting, quirky, funny people. Being bored is my least favorite thing, and doing what I'm doing, I never am!
Worst thing: People thinking that who they are and their value are actually defined by the job they hold.
Lesli Linka Glatter, director and Homeland executive producer
Best thing: We get to explore the depths of human emotions limited only by our own imaginations.
Worst thing: When I was a new director, I naively assumed that everything in film and TV would be based on merit. The best and most compelling projects would get made, the best directors for the project would be hired. It is simply not the case.
Nina Jacobson, producer, The People v. O.J. Simpson
Best thing: Every day is different. There's rarely a dull moment.
Worst thing: When things are going well as a producer, you spend less time with your family. If things are going great, you’re gone that much more. That paradox [the conflict between professional success and your personal life] is tough.
Lori McCreary, president, Producers Guild of America; CEO, Revelations Entertainment
Best thing: The entertainment industry, and producers in particular, are uniquely positioned to make a huge difference in this country — especially now as we see how divided we are. As storytellers we have the opportunity to connect to those who feel they have no voice, to expose injustices, to bring people with disparate views together — and to simply entertain a public that is in dire need of lifting of their spirits.
Worst thing: Shooting exteriors in New York City winters! No sleep!
Diane Nelson, president, DC Entertainment; president, Warner Bros. Worldwide Consumer Products
Best thing: Being a part of an industry that can positively affect the lives of millions through great storytelling.
Worst thing: The temptation to get lost in the bubble of this industry, with all its privilege and outsized egos.
Lisa Nishimura, vp, original documentary and comedy programming, Netflix
Best thing: Working with incredible storytellers, innovators and creatives. It’s extremely inspiring.
Worst thing: The commute.
Terry Press, president, CBS Films
Best thing: I’m able to work with genuinely interesting and creative people.
Worst thing: You work with genuinely interesting and creative people who have massive entitlement issues and think the world revolves around their every word and deed.
Gigi Pritzker, founder, OddLot Entertainment
Best thing: The variety of people you deal with.
Worst thing: The fear. There’s so much fear and insecurity.
Keri Putnam, executive director, Sundance Institute
Best thing: It's never the same. We get to immerse in a new world and find new community with every project.
Worst thing: The idea that only what's worked before will work again.
Shonda Rhimes, executive producer, Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder
Best thing: Getting to write "Interior: Oval Office, day" or "Interior: E.R., day" and then having someone build it.
Worst thing: If I spent my time thinking about the worst part of working in Hollywood, I'd feel pretty spoiled.
Jo Ann Ross, president of network sales, CBS
Best thing: Doing “Carpool Karaoke” with our talented and hysterical The Late Late Show host James Corden.
Beatrice Springborn, head of originals, Hulu
Best thing: Meeting your heroes. Getting to read for a big part of your living. And seeing some of your favorite books ever become TV shows you get to actually work on (The Handmaid’s Tale, The Looming Tower).
Worst thing: People who are horrible to their assistants because they think that behavior means you work in Hollywood.
Sandra Stern, president, Lionsgate TV
Best thing: The camaraderie. The TV business still feels like a big, noisy, argumentative and sometimes dysfunctional family.
Worst thing: Too often we operate with an us vs. them mentality.
Jennifer Todd, producer, Live by Night
Best thing: Meeting your heroes.
Worst thing: When business wins over art.
Suzanne Todd, producer, Bad Moms
Best thing: When you make something and it really makes people laugh or really cry.
Worst thing: Good work doesn’t necessarily beget a raise or get you to the next step.
Jenno Topping, president film, Chernin
Best thing: Stories and storytellers.
Worst thing: Bullshit and bullshitters.
Geri Wang, president, ABC Sales
Best thing: The beautiful people.