DONNA LANGLEY REPORT
by Madison Moellers
I finished this report in July 2013 and Donna Langley became Chairman of Universal Pictures in September 2013 - so exciting!!)
I wanted to do a report on Donna Langley because I was reading a Hollywood Reporter and saw her, read about her and thought she's awesome - I wanted to interview her! I also met her at the Variety Power of Women event. It makes sense she is Co-Chairman of Universal Pictures. She has the essence of power that follows her around. I was so excited to meet her! She was great.
Miss Donna was adopted and raised on the Isle of Wight which is just south of the UK mainland on the English Channel. She was the only one in her family that was adopted. She says it makes her feel special and it makes her feel like she was chosen. She was a dancer as a kid so that was her main hobby. Since she lived on an island, she loved swimming and water sports. As a kid she was described as funny, compassionate and athletic.
Miss Donna loved college and she worked super hard. She went to Kent College. She loved film but didn't study it. Her favorite subjects were Art History and Business.
From Britain, she came to the U.S.A. at age twenty-two. Her first job was a hostess at The Roxbury. There, she met New Line Cinema's President Mike DeLuca. He offered her a job. She started as an intern, then moved into an assistant position, and then worked her way up like all the other greats. She found a hit script Austin Powers: The International Man of Mystery that everyone else had turned down. She was a junior executive and flipped out over it and her boss did, too. It was the highest comedy grosser in the box office for a long time.
By 2001, she had moved to Universal Pictures and got a job as the Senior Vice President of Production. She found Mamma Mia! and if it weren't for her, it would never have been made. I love that movie! I became an Abba fanatic from watching it! She was asked how she knows a movie is going to be a hit, and her reply was, "You can see with every frame that it's all coming together. . . You can just feel it."
In October of 2009, she was promoted to Co-Chairman of Universal Pictures. Did you know that they had to hire two men to replace the job that she used to do single handedly? She was also the first British woman to run a studio. (I'm practicing a British accent. I so hope I get to do it with her.) Universal Pictures extended her contract through 2014. Her job can go from anything - from helping distribution, to suggesting changes to films in production, to bidding on scripts to produce. For example, this past year she secured FIFTY SHADES OF GREY when everybody wanted it.
Miss Donna was the power force behind a lot of films that have led to the Studio's most successful and profitable years at the global box office. That is so cool! Since 2005, she has been involved with tons of movie hits such as American Gangster, The Bourne Ultimatum, Knocked Up, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Wanted, Fast & Furious, Couples Retreat and It's Complicated, to name a few. Ted which stars one of my acting chums, Patrick Warburton, is the highest grossing original R rated comedy of all time, and was also Universal Pictures' highest grossing film of 2012 at $549 million worldwide and counting. On December 20th, 2012, the Universal Pictures announced that 2012 marked their best year at the worldwide box office in the studio's one-hundred year history.
She says it's her job to help the next generation of women who want to work in film. She wants to help them so they have realistic expectations in Hollywood which brings fantasies to life every day. She wants to make sure they focus on what they can get.
But really what fills her career with passion is the creative part of her job. "I just love being at the heart of the creative process. You know being somebody who facilitates a creative vision and a dream and creating movies, stories for people all around the world."
She believes women have a unique way of multi-tasking. She and her husband Ramin Shamshiri are the parents of two young boys. She had them a little bit later in life. She says it makes her a better mother since she got her career on solid footing first. She loves her job but family always comes first. She says she had to figure out how to leave work at work. She realized that all her of her talents and experiences made her confident and able to let go. She hopes her kids someday will have pride that their mom loves what she days and goes to work everyday happy. But she says something that really keeps her going is her supportive husband. Mr. Ramin is a founding partner of a design firm called Commune. They have a home in Ojai, California, and they love to spend time there together hiking, swimming and gardening.
Miss Donna is a Global Ambassador for Vital Voices Global which is an organization dedicated to mentoring women in developing throughout the world. The website is super cool. You should check it out. www.vitalvoices.org Soon, she will be traveling with the charity to focus on expanding opportunity for women in the Middle East and North Africa regions to join non-profit and corporate boards. Amazing! I wonder how she fits that in with her job.
She also works a lot with a Los Angeles based organization Chrysalis. She serves on their Advisory Board. She's also their Co-Chairman for their annual Butterfly Ball. Their mission statement is: Chrysalis is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a pathway to self-sufficiency for homeless and low-income individuals by providing the resources and support needed to find and retain employment. They employ over 500 people a year! Sounds like a really cool organization!
Miss Donna is such an inspirational woman. She's completed so much in her life. From traveling to succeeding in a dream job where she's responsible for tons of people to being a great mom as well as wife and on top of all that helping so many others through her charity work. She's overall just an awesome person. Wouldn't you agree?