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Kuykendall will act as vp film and oversee a new features group focusing on midsized films. She will report to head of film Scott Stuber and joins film vps Tendo Nagenda, Ori Marmur and Kira Goldberg.
The move buttresses Netflix’s movie division at a critical time. The company is trying to drastically ramp up production but also raise the level of quality of its original features.
And Kuykendall definitely has the experience. Joining Warners in 2008, she rose through the ranks to become executive vp production and most recently oversaw the Oscar-winning drama Judas and the Black Messiah. She also oversaw 2018’s award-winning remake of A Star Is Born and the hit horror movies It and It: Chapter Two. Other movies under her purview included Just Mercy; The Sun Is Also a Star; Everything, Everything; Magic Mike and its sequel; and Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur.
“Niija’s experience and reputation is stellar, and she brings strength to Netflix through her relationships and creative talents,” said Stuber in a statement. “For some time there has been a significant gap in the market for mid-range films and Niija has a fantastic track record of championing those projects. We’re thrilled that she’ll be leading a new team that will further ensure audiences continue to be entertained by our movies.”
Kuykendall is also very active in representation and diversity initiatives. She is on the board of directors of Women in Film, Brown University’s Women’s Leadership Council, and the Emma Bowen Foundation for Multicultural Interests in Media. She also spearheaded the MACRO x The Black List Feature Screenwriter Incubator, launched by Warners earlier this year, that is to help elevate screenwriters of color.
Stated Kuykendall: “I am so excited by this opportunity to join the excellent team at Netflix and build a new group that will be focused on the mid-sized movie space. I look forward to continuing my work of advocating for and partnering with incredible filmmakers to tell impactful and meaningful stories of all genres.”
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