My sisterino put me onto a new podcast (Withoutfail) yesterday after listening to a conversation with Nina Jacobson, the Hollywood heavyweight producer. She is the woman behind such household films as Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Hunger Games and most recently Crazy Rich Asians.
I loved hearing about her early days as an executive at Disney, of being supported to go after ideas that defied the logic of the day. She spoke of hiring on great writers to imagine a story around Pirates of the Caribbean, one of Disneyworld’s most action-packed rides. No one, least of the all the executive team, believed such a loony idea would go on to enjoy five installments and gross more than four billion clams worldwide.
After reviewing Colorforce's filmography, Jacobson’s production company founded in 2007, I was blown away to discover they haven’t had a single dog at the box office. How does a former studio executive continue to bring home the bacon with such a diverse slate of projects?
By listening to her gut, staying humble and partnering with collaborators who know their business better than herself. Jacobson has made it a policy to define her life by her failures as much as her successes. To fight the temptation to sweep the mistakes under the rug and accept everything as it comes.
She invokes the fallacy of toupees & wigs, citing the fact that such a choice is an obvious example of an individual obscuring the truth when it’s an open secret to the rest of the world. I love the way she talks about producing, insisting her primary role is to inspire momentum, to keep everything from falling to pieces. "Make it better, hold it together. That’s the job.”
If only we could all be so humble.