Zola Mashariki, a veteran of Fox Searchlight Pictures and BET Networks, has been named head of Amazon-owned Audible Studios.
In her new role, Mashariki will oversee the creation of all original content and will manage the entire studio operation, including the development and implementation of content strategy. She will be based in Los Angeles, reporting to Rachel Ghiazza, executive vp/head of U.S. content.
“Audible is in the business of fearlessly creating unparalleled audio experiences that showcase the best in storytelling. With Zola, a profoundly gifted executive, we are poised to conquer this important moment in audio — a pivotal time when creativity and originality are at a premium and we deepen our commitment to reimagine what audio experiences can mean for audiences,” Ghiazza said. “Zola’s track record of creating award-winning, breakout hits, her exquisite taste, production expertise and deep understanding of the intersection of audience appetite and quality content is beyond impressive.”
Added Mashariki: “Audible is an industry leader and the go-to home for extraordinary creators and gifted auteurs. I’m absolutely thrilled to join a best-in-class team to lead content creation, evolve our strategy, amplify original voices — both emerging and established — and deliver imaginative, immersive and high-quality audio narratives to audiences everywhere.”
Mashariki spent 15 years at Fox Searchlight Pictures (now Searchlight Pictures) where she was senior vp production. Some of her most successful projects were book adaptations including The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Secret Life of Bees, The Last King of Scotland, Never Let Me Go, In America and Antwone Fisher. During her tenure at Searchlight, as part of the acquisitions team, she also worked on Slumdog Millionaire and 12 Years a Slave, among other films.
In 2015, she was named head of original programming at BET, where she led the creative team and oversaw programming for both BET and Centric Networks. During her time, Mashariki developed and executive produced The New Edition Story, which gave the network its highest ratings over the past decade and won two NAACP Image Awards. She also collaborated with the late John Singleton on his series Rebel and with Laurence Fishburne on the Nelson Mandela miniseries Madiba.
She left BET in March 2017 amid a surprise shake-up. Mashariki later sued BET and its owner, Viacom, for discrimination and defamation related to her breast cancer diagnosis. Viacom and BET reached a settlement with Mashariki in December 2017.
Most recently, Mashariki was chief content officer for One Community fka Good Films) and oversaw its 2020 film Just Mercy, starring Michael B. Jordan, Brie Larson and Jamie Foxx.
Prior to working in film, Mashariki co-founded, with the late Tony-winning playwright August Wilson, the African Grove Institute for the Arts, a national theatre alliance.
Mashariki is involved in Time’s Up, where she was an early supporter, and is a founding member of ReFrame, an organization created by entertainment industry leaders to help achieve gender parity in Hollywood.