Q&A: Sherry Lansing


One would be hard-pressed to find someone more deserving of WIF's second annual Paltrow Mentorship Award than former Paramount chairman Sherry Lansing. The celluloid-ceiling breaker spoke with Shannon L. Bowen for The Hollywood Reporter about her career and her charitable works.

The Hollywood Reporter: How important was mentoring to your career in Hollywood?

Sherry Lansing: When I started in the movie business as an executive, there weren't a lot of women ahead of us, and so in many ways we were our own mentors. There were a handful of women -- Marcia Nasatir, Paula Weinstein, Dawn Steel -- but we didn't have someone ahead of us. We were grateful to men like Bruce Paltrow, who included us and who were there for us.

THR: What's some of the best advice you were given during your career?

Lansing: To enjoy the process. Enjoy the steps along the way, and if you enjoy those steps, hopefully the results will come. But just getting up to bat is really what's worthy of applause. Those steps along the way are your life.

THR: At what point in your career did you look around and say, "I'm enjoying this"?

Lansing: I honestly will tell you that when I was being paid $5 an hour to read scripts, I thought I was the luckiest person in the world.

THR: You've said you're busier now than you ever were.

Lansing: I am. I'm flunking retirement, someone said. This is the happiest time of my life.

THR: What were some of your goals when you created the Sherry Lansing Foundation?

Lansing: I wanted to fund research in cancer, I wanted to fund scientists, I wanted to help public school education, and I wanted to redefine aging. I wanted to start a movement to put retired people back to work; I believe that 60 is the new 60.