Oprah Winfrey, Shonda Rhimes and 16 Other Hollywood Leaders on How to Negotiate
Women from THR's Power 100 offer their top dealmaking tips (hint: Don't undersell yourself — and don't be an asshole).
A version of this story first appeared in the 2015 Women in Entertainment issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Compensation isn’t the only thing you have to fight for in the entertainment business (or any business). Here, women from THR’s Power 100 offer their top dealmaking tips (including: "Have a sense of humor," says Bernardine Brandis, Executive vp business affairs at The Walt Disney Studios).
"Start with clarity of intention. Know yours and your opponent's. Make every deal a win-win. Otherwise, you lose long term."
— Oprah Winfrey (Chairman and CEO/chief creative officer, OWN)
"Never enter a negotiation you are unwilling to walk away from. If you aren't willing to walk away, you are not a negotiator — you are simply a very cheap date."
— Shonda Rhimes (Executive producer, Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder)
"Don't tell anyone your negotiating tips."
— Cindy Holland (VP original content, Netflix)
"It's not personal! It's business. Emotion rarely closes a deal."
— Dana Walden (Chairman and CEO, Fox TV Group)
"Make sure both sides leave the table feeling a bit smug because they both believe they've won."
— Bonnie Hammer (Chairman, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Group)
"I wave my hand and say, 'These are not the droids you are looking for.'"
— Nicole Clemens (Executive vp series development, FX Networks)
"If someone says no, you're talking to the wrong person."
— Kris Jenner (Reality star)
"Don't be transactional — do research and make a compelling case and play nice. You will meet again." — Maha Dakhil (Motion picture agent, CAA)
"Don't undersell yourself. When I was interviewing for a job at Guber/Peters, Roger Birnbaum took me to drinks and asked me how much I would like to make. I said, 'Maybe $25,000?' He said OK. I had undersold myself."
— Stacey Snider (Co-chairman, 20th Century Fox)
"Have a good team around you. Know your worth and it’s not always about the dollars."
— Taraji P. Henson (Actress, Empire)
"Live below your means."
— Mara Brock Akil (Showrunner, Being Mary Jane)
"Know how to compromise without taking it personally — something I’m apparently still learning."
— Gale Anne Hurd (Executive producer, The Walking Dead)
"Make yourself invaluable; know and believe your worth."
— Jill Leiderman (Executive producer, Jimmy Kimmel Live!)
"Be ready to walk away. And mean it."
— Jenni Konner (Co-creator and co-executive producer, Girls; co-founder, Lenny)
"Don't let ego get in the way of creativity."
— Reese Witherspoon (Actor/producer)
"Don't fall in love."
— Sheila Nevins (President, HBO Documentary Films)
— Nina Jacobson (Producer, The Hunger Games)