Los Angeles native Nina Jacobson is one of the sharpest people working in Hollywood today. Working as an executive at Dreamworks, Universal, and Disney in the ‘90s and ‘00, Jacobson represents a greater wave of women studio heads who have built considerable power in the past several decades and made it their mission to elevate the work of women, queer and other groups of filmmakers and storytellers that have been marginalized in the past.
Along the way, Jacobson, who is openly gay, has done what even just a few years ago many thought impossible – championing projects that advance the opportunities of underrepresented folks while also entertaining a broad audience and making money.
Jacobson has built a career on a voracious appetite for story and a spirit for shepherding new voices to the screen. Throughout the past three decades, she’s collaborated on projects and been involved with a variety of groups and communities fighting for Hollywood to be a more equitable ecosystem for everyone, not just the above-the-line talent. In celebration of her inspiring life and career, here is a map of her achievements.
1988: Jacobson joins Silver Pictures as director of feature entertainment
1993: Jacobson moves to the role of Senior Vice President of Production at Universal Studios, where she oversees the development and production of ‘90s gems like Dazed and Confused, 12 Monkeys, and many more
1995: Jacobson comes on as a senior executive at DreamWorks, where she helped shepherd films such as Antz and The Sixth Sense
1995: Jacobson and producer Bruce Cohen establish Out There, a collective of gay and lesbian entertainment industry activists, formalizing their colleagues’ efforts to raise the visibility, awareness and collective power of queer filmmakers
1998: She begins her role as a senior exec at Disney, overseeing film production and developing scripts for Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures and Buena Vista Motion Pictures Group. It’s during this period she would help helm gigantic properties like the Pirates of the Caribbean, Chronicles of Narnia and Princess Diaries franchises
2003: Jacobson wins a Women in Film Crystal Award
2005: Forbes includes the power player in its list of 100 “Most Powerful Women,” as the business world takes note of the influence Jacobson has had both on the industry and the world at large
2007: Jacobson makes the move from studio exec to producer when she founds Color Force with partner Brad Simpson. The shingle quickly emerges as an incubator for the wonderful projects she’s helped usher in during the past decade
2009: Jacobson and Color Force acquire the film rights to The Hunger Games book series, a property that would spawn four films and go on to become an enormous worldwide success. The Hunger Games becomes another shining example of how you can build a blockbuster franchise (almost $3 billion in combined revenue) around someone other than a male
2016: Color Force takes on the small screen as their production of The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story premieres on FX and is met with immediate acclaim and a slew of awards
2018: Jacobson and Color Force release the feature adaptation Crazy Rich Asians, which — spoilers — is also a huge success and underscores how vital, fun and profitable stories of underrepresented communities can be on the big screen