40 Under 40, Class of 2022: Advice for the Next Generation

For this year’s 40 Under 40 issue, I reached out to some of home entertainment’s top executives and asked them what they’d like to say to our Class of 2022 honorees.
 
“Career paths are rarely linear, and they almost never conform to pre-conceived plans. In my experience it is far more important to embrace situations where one is learning and feels valued than it is to follow a pre-ordained notion of what one’s path should be. This is especially true in the current environment, where change in our industry is so rapid,” said Jason Spivak, EVP of distribution for North America television and home entertainment at Sony Pictures Entertainment.
 
Cameron Douglas, VP of home entertainment at Fandango, urges honorees to “Let a love for entertainment drive you. We sometimes forget how lucky we are to have a place in this business. The skills may be transferable, but our customers’ passion and engagement with content is unique. Embrace it, in your work and in your own personal connection to the work. And always try to win the annual office Oscar pool!”
 
Mark Fisher, president and CEO of streaming trade association OTT.X, said, “This is a great time in our industry. You and our other up-and-coming leaders have the opportunity to develop an ecosystem that is more global, more egalitarian, and more diverse.”
 
Amy Jo Smith, president and CEO of digital entertainment trade group DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, said, “Congratulations to this year’s 40 Under 40. As you move throughout your career, the best training for new responsibilities will always be on-the-job training. Be a sponge. Never be afraid to ask questions but always be a good listener.”
 
“It’s an exciting time to be a part of our dynamic, uniquely evolving business,” said Michael Bonner, president of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. “To the emerging Class of 2022, I encourage you to harness your passion for entertainment and let it drive you. Take pride in your contributions and learn to thrive amid change, embracing new and diverse voices, ideas and perspectives, and strive to create a genuine culture of partnership and collaboration within your organization. Most importantly, lead by example and give back through mentorship, setting the industry stage for the future crop of young professionals.”
 
Jim Wuthrich, president of content distribution at Warner Bros. Discovery, said, “Congrats to this year’s honorees!I would suggest embracing your differences, as that’s where you are likely to find your superpower.Don’t mistake that advice for not bringing your best self to work; rather, figure out how to bring your unique talents, viewpoint and passion to your organization. Your team will benefit, and you’ll feel more authentic.”
 
Bob Buchi, president of Paramount Home Entertainment, couldn’t resist a plug for some of his studio’s biggest movies: “While everyone has their unique approach to leadership and success, I have observed that in our constantly changing marketplace, it helps to have the agility of Sonic, the anticipatory actions of Maverick, and the positivity of SpongeBob.”
 
Lastly, a few thoughts from me: Back before any of you were born, I was a 21-year-old college student who had just launched a monthly rock ‘n’ roll magazine in my hometown of San Diego, called Kicks. The San Diego Reader honored me as one of the year’s 50 People to Watch. That honor remains on my resumé and in my younger days opened quite a few doors —or maybe it was the confidence that winning that honor instilled in me. My words of my advice: Always over-deliver, keep your word, be on time and be nice to people.
 
Congratulations!

40 Under 40 in Home Entertainment, Class of 2022

Welcome to Media Play News’ fifth annual 40 Under 40 — our annual salute to the rising stars and high-ranking young executives involved in home entertainment.

In an era of broken windows and four video-on-demand variants — PVOD, TVOD, SVOD and AVOD — dominating home entertainment, our young executives in the Class of 2022 certainly have their hands full. They need to balance existing business needs with preparations for the future, whatever that might bring. Not surprisingly, data — and data analysis — figure prominently into many roles, since the home entertainment landscape is no longer the straight line, from the theater into the home, that it once was.

See photos from our 40 Under 40 party presented by DEG

Our honorees this year are listed alphabetically by last name.

Sarah Bills, 37

VP, Partnership Marketing, Warner Bros. Discovery

Sarah Bills

Bills leads partnership marketing strategy for HBO Max at Warner Bros. Discovery. She focuses on developing data-driven marketing campaigns driving subscription, revenue and engagement growth across distribution partners. She leads a team of more than 12 marketers to build high-impact campaigns, including the customized distribution go-to-market strategy for HBO Max in 2020. Bills began her career at The Walt Disney Co., overseeing sales strategy for The Lion King on Broadway. She joined HBO in 2013, launching high-visibility growth campaigns for shows such as “Game of Thrones,” “True Blood” and “Insecure.”

Jennifer Caprow, 32

SVP, Domestic Sales Strategy & Planning, Lionsgate

Jennifer Caprow

Born and raised in California, Caprow graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara before joining Lionsgate in 2011. Starting as a sales planning coordinator in the TV Distribution Group, she is now an integral member of the distribution’s executive team and was recently promoted into her present position after serving for two years as VP, sales planning and TV distribution and, before that, executive director. She collaborates with teams across Lionsgate and is constantly engaged with how the ever-changing TV/streaming landscape evolves.

Paul Charron, 39

Operations Program Manager, Google

Paul Charron

Charron oversees ongoing transactional VOD operations at Google TV. He began his career at Sony Pictures Television and spent nearly 15 years in a series of progressively more responsible supply chain functions at NBCUniversal, Fox and Paramount. Charron has provided invaluable leadership, bringing media supply chain technologists together to develop and adopt revolutionary practices to streamline distribution and reduce cost. Since 2012, he has contributed to the DEG’s TechOps committee. He currently co-chairs the DEG’s Supply Chain Efficiency and Security Committee. Charron received his MBA from the University of Southern California.

Brandie Chernow, 37

Director of Marketing, Kids & Family Entertainment, Shout! Factory

Brandie Chernow

Chernow is charged with ensuring that every release under the expanding umbrella of family entertainment titles is fully supported by marketing efforts. She works closely with partners to understand the unique requirements of each title and strategizes how best to market them across theatrical, digital, and physical landscapes. Chernow has worked with notable partners in family entertainment, including Sesame Street, Hasbro, Disney and MPCA, as well as prestigious partners in the animation and anime world, including GKIDS and Studio Ghibli, Eleven Arts, Toei, and Laika Studios. Chernow joined Shout! in 2013 and is also the author of Gold Spun, a fantasy novel for young readers, and its sequel, coming in October.

Carla Cozzi, 37

Director, Human Resources, Redbox

Carla Cozzi

Cozzi leads a team of HR business partners, recruiters and specialists to support Redbox’s operations team of more than 1,000 employees and key corporate clients such as the marketing and digital divisions. She is a specialist in employee relations and has been pivotal in the development of policies to launch engagement and performance programs as well as meet compliance initiatives. She has been with Redbox for more than seven years. Previously, Cozzi gained experience in distribution and logistics at The Home Depot, and global supply chain services and logistics company UTi Worldwide Inc. (now part of the DSV Group).

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Justin Dickerson, 38

Assistant General Counsel, Business & Legal Affairs, Roku

Justin Dickerson

Dickerson is a key member of Roku’s content legal team, working on the international expansion of Roku’s platform for streaming services as well as international growth of Roku’s free AVOD service The Roku Channel, which includes Roku Originals and on-demand feature films, series and FAST linear channels. Prior to joining Roku in October 2020, Dickerson was part of Corporate Legal — Media Distribution at The Walt Disney Co., where he worked on global streaming deals as well as novel initiatives such as the studio’s Premier Access strategy and early release initiatives during the pandemic. Dickerson joined Disney through its acquisition of 21st Century Fox, where he handled digital entertainment deals.

Max Einhorn,32

SVP, Acquisitions & Co-Productions (Head of Content), FilmRise

Max Einhorn

Einhorn oversees all content acquisition, licensing and production for FilmRise’s distribution footprint and also for the FilmRise Streaming Network of AVOD apps and FAST channels. Since joining the company in 2014 he has contributed to the development of FilmRise’s analytics methodology, which identified key FilmRise brands/libraries, such as “Forensic Files,” “Unsolved Mysteries,” “Hell’s Kitchen,” and the Carsey Werner and Stephen J. Cannell libraries. Einhorn also oversees originals and is an executive producer of “Bloodline Detectives Hosted by Nancy Grace,” “Meet, Marry, Murder with Michelle Trachtenberg,” a wide slate of romance movies of the week, plus digital native content from Rooster Teeth and creators Preston Arsement and Brianna Arsement.

Geneva Farias, 38

Director, International Digital Distribution, Universal Television Distribution, NBCUniversal

Geneva Farias

Farias is responsible for account management of the transactional film business across all distribution platforms in Latin America (15+ territories). She has played an instrumental role in launching accelerated windows across international markets, most recently expanding PVOD in Brazil and Mexico. She is a key player in managing international business operations, including overseeing new territory launches, onboarding and supporting new distribution partners, and mitigating title launch issues. Farias started her career in digital distribution as an executive assistant at Paramount Pictures in 2007. In 2011 she moved over to Rovi Entertainment as a partner specialist. She joined the International Digital team at NBCUniversal in 2012.

Field Garthwaite, 36

Co-founder and CEO, Iris.TV

Field Garthwaite

Garthwaite co-founded a video data platform that enables better viewing experiences and advertising outcomes. Since inventing the core technology behind Iris.TV, Garthwaite has led the company to engineer an open video data ecosystem, enabling its partners to build scalable solutions on top of its platform, including video-level contextual and brand-safe ad targeting, planning, verification and measurement solutions. The company works with thousands of media companies, as well as data, streaming and ad tech partners globally to power meaningful connections between brands and consumers. Prior to co-founding Iris.TV, Garthwaite worked in digital distribution, data architecture, and video for companies including HBO, Universal Pictures, Rubicon Project and Jukebox TV.

Cole Gonzalez, 31

Director of Product Support, Storefront, Premiere Digital

Cole Gonzalez

Gonzalez was promoted into his present position in January 2022, a year after he joined Premiere as an onboarding manager for the Storefront product. He helped streamline the process between product and sales, and worked as a catalyst to attract new customers to the product. He rapidly climbed the ladder to take over the entire client rep team. He quickly built relationships and established trust with all existing and new customers, as well as his colleagues at Premiere. Prior to joining Premiere, Gonzalez was assistant director of external relations at Claremont McKenna College. Earlier, he spent nearly five years at IT consultancy TEKsystems, where he rose to account manager of media and entertainment.

Sarah Graber, 36

Specialist, Marketing Strategy, Apple TV+

Sarah Graber

Graber has been a series marketing specialist at Apple TV+ since the streaming service launched in November 2019. She’s worked on the service’s growing slate of original programs, including the global launch campaigns for “Tehran,” “Shining Girls” and “Severance.” Graber is an experienced brand strategist who for more than 12 years has worked in television marketing across broadcast, cable and streaming. Working on tentpole campaigns for NBC (“The Voice,” “This Is Us”) taught her the fundamentals of entertainment marketing, and her pursuit of best-in-class content took her to FX Networks to learn the cable business. There, she developed multi-platform promotions for groundbreaking series such as “Pose,” “Atlanta” and “American Horror Story.”

Natalia Guzman, 36 

VP, Partnership Management, Warner Bros. Discovery Sales & Distribution

Natalia Guzman

Guzman leads account strategy for multi-billion-dollar partnerships with the nation’s largest telecom and pay-TV providers. She is responsible for driving revenue and subscriber growth for Warner Bros. Discovery’s content offering, including HBO Max, Warner Bros. and Turner networks. Guzman has over 15 years of experience in P&L, business strategy, and client management. She has a proven track record of developing high-impact teams, specializing in growth strategy. In her time at WBD she’s secured groundbreaking distribution deals for HBO Max, driving millions of new subscribers year over year.

Harris Hoffberg, 31

Senior Counsel, Business & Legal Affairs, Warner Bros. Discovery Distribution

Harris Hoffberg

Hoffberg negotiates with partners to secure distribution of Warner Bros. Discovery’s portfolio of content, including HBO Max and the Turner basic networks (such as TNT, TBS and CNN) across digital and traditional access points, spanning MVPDs, OTT, CTV, OEM and FAST platforms. He works closely with colleagues to align each partnership with the company’s financial, ad sales, data/privacy, content strategy, technology and product initiatives. Hoffberg joined Warner in 2019 after two years as counsel, business and legal affairs, at Turner Broadcasting. He began his career as an associate with the New York law firm of Proskauer Rose LLP. He earned his law degree at the Georgetown University Law Center.

Brett Holmberg, 33

Director, Digital Distribution, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Brett Holmberg

Holmberg manages UPHE’s go-to-market strategy with digital retail partners, including Amazon, Apple, YouTube and Microsoft. He uses data to tell the story of what is happening in the retail marketplace, generating insights and recommendations for UPHE’s executive team. He also oversees communication between the group’s cross-functional teams and digital retail partners, and develops analytically driven sales strategies to maximize revenue. Holmberg recently took on forecasting the impact of changing home entertainment windows and business models on transactional retailer margins. While pursuing his MBA at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, he completed internships with Disney and NBCUniversal, which he joined in 2018.

Phillip Hong, 34

Senior Manager, Market Intelligence, Paramount Pictures

Phillip Hong

Hong manages industry and competitive analysis for Paramount Pictures, helping develop and refine distribution strategies across home media channels. He supports the organization by monitoring industry trends and analyzing title performance throughout the lifecycle to provide insights and strategic recommendations. Leveraging his knowledge of the home media space, he has also created pricing tests to measure and optimize the impact of promotions in the digital sellthrough business. Hong joined Paramount Pictures in February 2016 and was promoted into his present position four years later. Previously, Hong for more than three years worked at DirecTV, researching pay-TV products across traditional and emerging video providers.

Erol Kalafat, 38

Senior Technical Product Manager, Amazon Prime Video

Erol Kalafat

Kalafat was promoted into his present position in April 2019 and is charged with designing, implementing and maintaining a new generation of studio technology. He also provides technical leadership to internal teams on emerging technologies. In his prior role as Amazon’s senior Technical integration manager, Kalafat was a key driver of the EMA’s Digital Supply Chain Committee and the DSCA. Prior to joining Amazon in October 2016, Kalafat held various positions at AOL, Verizon, Sony New Media Solutions, Sony DADC, Sony Pictures Entertainment and The Walt Disney Co. He began his career in June 2007 as program manager at Technicolor.

Courtney Kawata, 38

Senior Art Director, Creative & Video Production, Rotten Tomatoes

Courtney Kawata

Kawata oversees all design and branding directives for Rotten Tomatoes’ home entertainment initiatives. Leading creative company-wide across sales, marketing, live events, social media, editorial, content operations and video production, she played an instrumental role in the branding strategy of graphic design packages on more than 20 original shows for the Rotten Tomatoes 24/7 OTT channel on Samsung TV Plus, The Roku Channel, Peacock, Xumo TV and Reach TV. Upon joining the company in 2017, Kawata led the successful rebrand of the beloved RT logo and Tomatometer iconography. Prior to working at Rotten Tomatoes, Kawata honed her multidisciplinary creative and design skills in film and television at Disney, Fox Broadcasting, NBCUniversal and Fandango. 

Emika Kiyoizumi, 35

VP, Business Development and Content Partnerships, Redbox

Emika Kiyoizumi

Kiyoizumi leads business development and content partnerships across Redbox’s digital video businesses, which include TVOD, FAST channels and AVOD. She drives all distribution for Redbox’s streaming app and the syndication footprint for Redbox-branded FAST channels, as well as content acquisition agreements with studio and FAST partners. Kiyoizumi joined Redbox earlier this year from Amazon, where she negotiated distribution agreements for Freevee, the company’s free streaming service. Before joining Amazon, she was senior director of content partnerships, distribution and business development for ViacomCBS, leading a team responsible for the company’s affiliate portfolio across MVPD, TVOD, SVOD and OTT partners.

David Landau, 40

VP, Digital Sales, Shout! Factory

David Landau

Landau oversees Shout’s EST/VOD business across all platforms. His understanding of industry trends and consumer demand has enabled the company to maximize promotions and sales on all platforms. Landau has played a key role in launching major releases in the digital sellthrough space, including several Studio Ghibli classics, many of GKIDS’s critically acclaimed anime films, and Shout! Studios’ star-driven theatrical films, including Old Henry and Language Lessons. Landau has been with Shout! since 2007, transitioning from physical sales to digital sales in 2017. A veteran of entertainment media sales and marketing for more than 20 years, Landau previously served as a sales representative at Caroline Distribution, the independent arm of EMI Music.

Michael Markese, 32

Senior Director, Strategy, Warner Bros. Discovery

Michael Markese

Markese and his team develop company-wide commercial strategies that drive growth and monetization across WBD’s content and distribution footprint, including HBO Max, Warner Bros. and more. He’s responsible for helping establish innovative content windowing models, supporting the launches of new DTC products, and, most recently, crafting an enterprise-wide framework for measuring and optimizing returns on the company’s content investments. In addition, he supports the Otter Media portfolio of businesses including Rooster Teeth and Gunpowder & Sky. Prior to joining Warner, Markese led business operations and strategy for the Fullscreen creator network. He began his career as an investment banker at Moelis & Company and later worked as a private equity investor at GIC. 

Despina O’Connor, 30

Manager, Digital Distribution, Sony Pictures Entertainment

Despina O’Connor

O’Connor manages Sony Pictures Distribution’s TVOD business and key relationships with Amazon, Google, and AMC on Demand. Appointed to the position in September 2021, she drives account strategies to maximize profitability and growth across all film and TV product. She started at Sony Pictures in 2016 and spent her first five years in the physical home entertainment business, supporting multiple accounts such as Walmart, Amazon, Target and Best Buy. She also played a key role in developing and implementing an internal trade spend management system for cross-functional teams to manage and track promotional performance and supply chain metrics. O’Connor majored in communications and media studies at Emmanuel College in Boston.

Jaime Otero, 39

VP, Business Development and Content Strategy, Whip Media

Jaime Otero

Otero leads the global expansion of the Whip Media Exchange and has brought on some of the world’s largest entertainment companies to the platform. He is a senior executive and entrepreneur with more than two decades of international experience developing, financing, producing, licensing and distributing content with a broad network of international partners. He is recognized for leading the adoption of online licensing platforms in a traditionally manual industry. Prior to joining Whip in June 2021, Otero served as managing director at RightsTrade, where he designed and implemented the growth strategy of their online marketplace for film and television rights licensing.

Jay Jinhyung Park, 39

Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, XL8.ai

Jay Jinhyung Park

Park oversees XL8.ai’s engineering activities. His leadership and vision resulted in the first M&E-trained machine translation/AI engine and MediaCAT platform, which streamlines subtitling and dubbing workflows through Web-based asset management, editing and automation. His passion for removing language barriers drives his continual pursuit to refine and champion the use of AI so more people can enjoy localized content around the globe. Prior to joining XL8.ai, he was a senior software engineer at Apple and helped build the network framework used for connecting all Apple devices, including Group FaceTime. Park received his master of science degree in computer science from Columbia University.

Lin Park, 39

Executive Director, Digital Marketing, Paramount Pictures

Lin Park

Park is a strategic marketing executive with a track record of launching award-winning digital campaigns. She currently leads the home entertainment digital marketing team for Paramount Pictures, overseeing digital and social for new-release, catalog, acquisition and TV releases. She is passionate about creative storytelling and leveraging technology, data and key partnerships to develop innovative marketing strategies. Prior to joining Paramount in 2019, Park led digital campaigns for 20th Century Fox movies such as Deadpool and Home Alone. She has a master’s degree in communications management, and is fluent in Portuguese and Mandarin.

Katherine Pond, 38

Group VP, Vizio

Katherine Pond

Pond leads digital distribution, content acquisition, platform partnerships and enterprise programs. Since joining Vizio in 2012 she’s initiated, negotiated and closed deals across content distribution and acquisition, IP, advertising, and data verticals. Pond has a history of building, growing and monetizing new lines of business, including Vizio’s WatchFree+. She leads the team responsible for closing deals with Amazon, Apple, Disney, Google, Netflix, Warner Bros. Discovery and more. Pond serves as a mentor at her alma mater and co-founded Vizio’s Ascend Women’s Network.

Justin Poulsen, 31

Director, Content Operations & Strategy, Lionsgate

Justin Poulsen

Poulsen has ascended quickly during his eight-year tenure at Lionsgate, making his mark in strategic platform management, evolving metadata requirements, and championing operational efficiencies in Lionsgate’s digital supply chain. Promoted into his present role in April 2020, Poulsen has exhibited leadership in this space that has shortened the time required for content to consumer through master data enhancements, metadata enrichment and worldwide content avail acceleration. For the latter accomplishment, Poulsen was recognized by the DEG at its inaugural TechOps Awards in 2020 for innovation in content availing. Next up for Poulsen and his team: International metadata cleansing and hierarchy AI/ML, and cloud-based distribution.

George Rausch, 39

Chief Product Officer, Blu Digital Group

George Rausch

Rausch oversees Blu’s expanding suite of video distribution, qualification and operational solutions for the entertainment industry. Earlier in his career, Rausch was part of the launch team at Pluto TV as its founding director of content (2013-17). Most recently, Rausch was head of product marketing for Frequency Networks, leading the company’s transition from short-form distribution to a premier provider of cloud-based linear scheduling and playout solutions for FAST/OTT-TV. Rausch has years of experience in product design, marketing and development, and growing M&E companies to be leaders in their respective industries (e.g., streaming video, broadcast, media operations).

Erin Everly Razov, 37

Director, Business Development & Strategy, Fandango

Erin Razov

Razov is a strategic business leader who is responsible for business development, strategy and partnerships with Fandango ticketing and video. Razov also leads the content licensing and strategy behind Fandango’s massive Movieclips business on YouTube, a channel of almost 90 million subscribers where she’s been instrumental to the launch of TV clips as well as the overall growth of the channel. Prior to joining Fandango in 2018, Razov held roles in business development and partnerships at Zulily, a $1.5 billion e-commerce company, and business analysis and strategic support for the home entertainment finance group at 20th Century Fox (now Disney).

Meagan Roberts, 31

Executive Director, Sales, Paramount Home Entertainment

Meagan Roberts

Roberts leads the Walmart North American sales team, working closely with the customer to build sustainable performance for the business, while also being an advocate for innovation. Roberts’ challenge to herself and her team is to be creative and curious thinkers, and ultimately strive to make a lasting impact on the consumer and the business. Roberts is a 2013 graduate of the University of Arkansas with a bachelor’s degree in business and minors in finance and pre-medicine. Since joining Paramount in 2018, she has held multiple sales roles with P&L accountability across theatrical, catalog and partner categories. She was promoted into her present position in February 2021.

Noah Rooney, 36

Director, Ad Operations, Redbox

Noah Rooney

Rooney leads all ad operations and monetization across Redbox’s AVOD and FAST services. He also oversees all monetization for the Redbox Media Network, which includes display ads across app, Web, e-mail and digital-out-of-home (DOOH) via the kiosk. He has been instrumental in the buildout and growth of Redbox’s ad-supported video services. Rooney began his career in advertising, working at agencies Ogilvy & Mather and Matrix Consultants, and across brands such as Cisco, Suzuki and Hi-Chew. Pivoting into the adtech sector in 2012, Rooney was involved in the growth of the adtech space, holding leadership positions at a variety of startups focusing on streaming monetization in the early days of CTV advertising. 

Justin Rutsky, 38

Director, Nonfiction Series & Co-Productions, Netflix

Justin Rutsky

Rutsky joined Netflix from Hulu four years ago and currently manages one of the most unique businesses at Netflix, the streamer’s nonfiction co-production strategy, where he collaborates with networks and producers around the globe. He has reinvented the co-production business and formed it into a hybrid operation that combines business savvy, great relationships with producers globally along with strong creative involvement. In shaping and guiding the creative aspects of his projects he has been able to achieve great wins for nonfiction across a broad range of categories, including global hits like “Down to Earth With Zac Efron,” “Selling Sunset,” “Rise of Empires: Ottoman” and “The Last Dance,” one of the biggest nonfiction series on Netflix ever. 

David Sanderson, 35

CEO, Reelgood

David Sanderson

Sanderson is the founder and CEO of Reelgood, a streaming service aggregator and “TV guide” for streaming. The company has developed the algorithms and proprietary IP that matches all the streaming availability data, which is constantly changing. This technology gathers, parses and matches billions of pieces of content from hundreds of different catalogs of streaming services. Reelgood’s ad product can target people based on their viewership across all their streaming subscriptions. Reelgood already has partnerships with many primary streaming services for this ad product. Prior to launching Reelgood in 2015, Sanderson spent three years at Facebook, most recently as product manager.

Alex Serdiuk, 33

CEO, Respeecher

Alex Serdiuk

Serdiuk founded Respeecher with Dmytro Bielievtsov and Grant Reaber in 2018 and now leads business development and strategy for the Kyiv, Ukraine-based company. Since Respeecher’s start, the team has been focused on high-fidelity voice cloning. The company’s technology was the first synthetic speech adopted by big Hollywood productions, starting in 2019. Respeecher has provided Mark Hamill’s de-aged vocal performance in both “The Mandalorian” and “The Book of Boba Fett.” Its AI-powered voice cloning platform is also featured in Disney+’s new “Obi-Wan Kenobi.” Respeecher launched an initiative, Speak Ukrainian, in which it applied state-of-the art voice cloning tech to enable famous people to speak with their words of support to Ukrainians in the Ukrainian language.

Justin Shumny, 39

Director, Brand Marketing, Paramount Home Entertainment

Justin Shumny

Based in Los Angeles, Shumny leads home entertainment marketing strategy for the global transactional television business, managing a diverse portfolio of product from CBS, Showtime and Paramount Television. Shumny started his career with Paramount in 2006 with the new-release team, contributing to international marketing campaigns for Transformers and Iron Man. After transitioning to television in 2012, he has taken the lead on driving successful marketing initiatives for major television franchises such as “Star Trek” and more recently has expanded his role to include brand marketing responsibilities for the international TV electronic sellthrough business.

Nathan Suh, 39

VP, Platform Distribution Strategy, Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution

Nathan Suh

Suh leads a distribution strategy team for Disney’s media networks and direct-to-consumer businesses. He and his team are responsible for deal analysis, strategic planning and developing growth strategies. He works closely with sales on platform negotiations in the United States and globally and plays a pivotal role in bringing the company’s DTC streaming services — Disney+, ESPN+, Hulu and Star+ — to a wide range of platforms and partners. Suh joined the company in 2015 as a director of business development for ESPN, before transitioning to ESPN’s corporate strategy team as a senior director in 2018. He previously worked in business development at NBC Sports, and as an investor at Comcast Ventures.

Robert Suh, 35

Director, Global Finance, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Robert Suh

Suh is a key leader on the UPHE global finance team. He provides global financial analyses, budgeting and strategic decision support to senior executives for the transactional home entertainment business. Suh assisted with a major finance transformation initiative to implement a new global forecasting software. He also created an assumption-driven forecasting model that quickly and accurately estimates catalog performance across hundreds of Universal titles. In addition, Suh played a key role in establishing the Universal/Warner domestic distribution joint venture Studio Distribution Services (SDS). Suh began his career at Deloitte and went on to work in Ernst & Young’s mergers and acquisitions practice before joining Universal in 2017 as a manager.

Matt Thunell, 37

VP, Original Series, Netflix

Matt Thunell

Thunell is responsible for leading original series focused on spectacle and event programming, consisting of prestige dramas and limited series, and elevated science-fiction, fantasy and genre entertainment. Thunell and his team are responsible for such groundbreaking series as “Stranger Things” and “The Umbrella Academy.” He previously led Netflix’s overall deals team and, before that, the Young Adult team, working on series such as “Thirteen Reasons Why” and “Outer Banks.” Before joining Netflix in 2015, he served as a creative executive at The CW, guiding development of the DC Comics universe as well as series such as “Jane the Virgin.” Thunell, a Yale graduate, also spent time at Sony Pictures Television, Disney and UBS.

Shital Kamdar Vora, 39
Brianna Walker, 32

Senior UX Manager
Senior UX Designer, Vudu

Shital Vora and Brianna Walker

Vora and Walker are responsible for user experience efforts for Fandango’s video-on-demand streaming service Vudu, from mobile to desktop to television. After Fandango acquired Vudu in 2020, the two helped spearhead the smooth migration of consumers from FandangoNow, Fandango’s previous streaming service, over to Vudu. Most recently, Vora and Walker worked on the Vudu redesign project to update and streamline the user experience of the Vudu application on Roku. Vora, Walker and their colleagues collaborated with various teams from product, development, research, marketing and merchandising. Vora and Walker have years of experience in delivering design solutions for Vudu’s and Fandango’s connected-TV, mobile and Web applications, providing creative ways to solve UX problems from inception to launch. Prior to joining Vudu, Vora worked in UX Design at RingCentral, designing for the cloud communication space. Walker previously worked at Dogtown Media, where she designed mobile applications for VC-backed startups to Fortune 500 companies.

Brian Weiss, 35

Director, Digital Advertising, PBS Distribution

Brian Weiss

Weiss leads digital advertising strategy for the PBS Prime Video Channels in the United States and Canada. By managing ad dollars efficiently, fine-tuning audience segmentation, fostering the relationship with Amazon and partnering closely with colleagues to create more-holistic media plans, PBS Distribution has improved marketing campaign effectiveness by more than 25% and doubled marketing-driven subscriber sign-ups. Prior to joining PBS in 2021, Weiss held multiple digital positions at Discovery Inc. for nearly a decade as well as led a large team at Street Sense, an advertising agency. He holds an executive MBA and bachelor’s degree in media arts and design from James Madison University.

Madison Wojciechowski, 33

Executive Director, Sales, Warner Bros. Discovery

Madison Wojciechowski

Wojciechowski is responsible for second-window licensing opportunities across more than 100 SVOD and AVOD clients including Tubi, Roku, Pluto, Meta and Netflix. She has been integral in driving third-party revenue growth year-over-year and generating new business opportunities. Prior to joining WBD in 2017, Wojciechowski led digital and social media strategy for United Entertainment Group, a global entertainment, sports and lifestyle agency. She later served as a global branded entertainment and digital strategy agent at ICM Partners, where she began her career in 2011 as an agent trainee.

Celebrating the 40 Under 40, Class of 2022

Media Play News teamed with DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group to celebrate the 40 Under 40 with a gala cocktail party at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles on Aug. 23. Nearly 100 guests attended the event, which included congratulatory remarks from MPN publisher Thomas K. Arnold, DEG president and CEO Amy Jo Smith and Lionsgate worldwide home entertainment president Ron Schwartz. (All photos by Media Play News staff.)

Media Play News’ Annual ’40 Under 40′ Issue Moves Up to August; Nominations Now Being Accepted

Media Play News has opened nominations for its fifth annual 40 Under 40 issue, which recognizes rising stars and powerful young executives involved in home entertainment.

This year, the 40 Under 40 issue moves up to August, two months earlier than its traditional October date.

As always, this prestigious list honors people under the age of 40 (before Aug. 1, 2022) who are on their way up, or already in a position of prominence, at a studio, independent film company, streaming service, retailer, distributor or tech company.

“We’re looking for talented young people who have applied creative thinking to a company/industry problem, attained notoriety in the industry, led successful initiatives, projects or campaigns, or brought fresh thinking to the industry,” said Media Play News editor in chief Stephanie Prange.

Honorees will be selected by the Media Play News staff based on their contributions to their companies, their role in their industry, and the likelihood of them becoming a key leader in their field.

Nominations are due Friday, June 24 for possible inclusion in the Aug. 22 issue. 

The nomination form may be accessed here.

Prange noted that the makeup of the 40 honorees has changed significantly since the annual feature was launched in 2018. “We’re seeing an accelerated blurring of the lines between transactional, television, streaming and other channels of content distribution, as distributors become filmmakers, filmmakers become distributors, and studio marketing and sales teams take on additional responsibilities for their parent company’s streaming ventures,” she said.

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Celebrating the 40 Under 40, Class of 2021

Media Play News, in partnership with DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, hosted a festive reception at the Skirball Center Oct. 27 to honor the 40 Under 40 in Home Entertainment, Class of 2021. Sponsored by Lionsgate and Whip Media, the rising stars and young executives mingled with some of the industry’s key leaders, including Paramount Home Entertainment president Bob Buchi, Sony Pictures EVP of worldwide digital distribution Jason Spivak, and Lionsgate’s Adam Frank, SVP of global digital sales and distribution. A special guest was Warren Lieberfarb, the father of DVD, an industry icon who played a large role in getting the digital revolution started.

A Look at Some Notable ’40 Under 40′ Alumni

As we were compiling our fourth annual “40 Under 40,” saluting the rising stars and top young executives in home entertainment, it occurred to me how much more difficult this process has become since our first such compendium in 2018.

That first year, we had to scramble for nominees. This year, whittling down the vast number of candidates was something like being asked which of my three sons do I like best. Everyone whose name was submitted was more than worthy of inclusion. We had to leave out dozens of talented young people, and I’ve already added many of their names — the ones who aren’t “aging out” — to next year’s list of contenders. Our honorees also have become increasingly diverse, with more women and people of color.

But, most significantly, the majority of the 40 young executives in our 2021 40 Under 40 are no longer “pure-play” home entertainment in the traditional sense of the word. We’re seeing an accelerated blurring of the lines between transactional, television, streaming and other channels of content distribution, as distributors become filmmakers, filmmakers become distributors, and studio marketing and sales teams take on additional responsibilities for their parent company’s streaming ventures.

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While we began our annual 40 Under 40 salute the same year that Media Play News launched, our core editorial team back in 2011 had produced a similar special feature for our predecessor publication — one year, and one year only.

That was exactly 10 years ago, and since in this business we’re programmed to celebrate anniversary dates of any kind, I decided to take a look back and see whatever happened to some of those rising stars we honored back in 2011.

I found some pretty amazing developments.

Shanan Becker, at the time a business development executive at DVD and Blu-ray distributor Image Entertainment, is now CFO of Saban Films, the boutique acquisition and distribution company founded by Haim Saban, creator of the “Power Rangers” franchise, that has built an enviable slate of talent-driven feature films for multiplatform release in partnership with Lionsgate.

Ian Bricke, a programming acquisitions and strategy VP at Epix, subsequently began a long run at Netflix that has seen him rise to VPof original independent film. His credits include five “To All the Boys” and “The Kissing Booth” films, which since their 2018 debuts have been seen in more than 125 million households.

Meredith Gertler, who was VP of product management, operations and production at HBO Home Entertainment, at the time a leader in the then-booming TV DVD business, is now EVP of content and strategy for HBO Max, responsible for shaping the streamer’s portfolio and developing overall content and programming strategies for all HBO streaming/on-demand platforms and linear networks. She’s just been tapped as a keynote speaker at Content LA in May 2022.

Kelly Merryman, a content acquisition VP at Netflix, went on to a long career at YouTube, where she ultimately rose to VP of content partnerships, charged with fostering relationships with major movie studios and TV networks.

Jason Ropell, who at the time had just joined Netflix as VP of content, went on to head Amazon Studios’ film division and is now CEO of Mubi, a leading streaming platform for independent movies.

Galen Smith, the studious young SVP of finance at Redbox, is now the company’s CEO and engineering an ambitious digital transformation at the one-time kiosk company.

And Soumya Sriramanhas gone from heading a small indie called Palisades Tartan to being named head of Prime Video Channels for Amazon, a prestigious role she assumed last November after nearly four years as CEO and president of the BritBox streaming service.

I’m looking forward to doing the same exercise again 10 years from now with the Class of 2021.

40 Under 40 in Home Entertainment, Class of 2021

Welcome to Media Play News’ fourth annual 40 Under 40 — our yearly list of rising stars and powerful young executives involved in home entertainment.

With the proliferation of streaming and the transformation of premium video-on-demand (PVOD) from Hollywood dream to COVID-induced reality, home entertainment has never been more popular — or more significant. The home has truly become the hub for entertainment, and the teams that are driving the ongoing evolution of the business are filled with smart, savvy and strategic up-and-comers as well as young leaders who are already in positions of authority and influence.

This year’s 40 Under 40 also reflects the growing diversity in the workplace, as we recognize that a wide range of viewpoints, knowledge and experiences makes for better business. These individualizing characteristics and perspectives can help a business maximize creativity and innovation.
Our honorees this year are listed alphabetically by last name.

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Aimee Abando, 27

Market Research and Insights Analyst, Fandango/Vudu

Aimee Abando

Abando spearheads quantitative research projects for Vudu, including attitudes and usage surveys, awareness trackers and messaging tests. She also helps on larger strategic projects. She oversees the entire research process of these important projects, from questionnaire development to the analysis and presentation of insights. She also leads syndicated research, oversees the company’s different customer feedback channels across movie/ticketing and streaming properties, and manages Fandango’s online community of film fans, the Movie Inner Circle. Prior to joining Fandango, Abando worked at Variety Media, researching digital premieres and helping compile TrackVision OTT and TV reports.

Susan Agliata, 39

Director, Business Development, Samsung

Susan Agliata

Agliata is responsible for finding and implanting new strategic partnerships in order to drive revenue, enable the development of new products and services, and improve on the user experience while continuing to nurture and grow existing partnerships. Since joining the team in 2020, she’s closed key deals with the largest global streaming services. Agliata’s resumé boasts a litany of industry powerhouses, including Google, The New York Times and Vice Media. While at Google, she worked to ensure YouTube was central to major marketing strategies, and directed the EMEA Branded Content Solutions team.

Jennifer Ajuria, 37

Director, Data and Planning, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Jennifer Ajuria

Ajuria manages Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s North America SKU master data, supporting the physical supply chain end-to-end process. Over the past several years Ajuria has streamlined the master data set-up to automate the process without compromising quality. Recently, she successfully led the title and SKU ingestion of Lionsgate’s physical distribution onboarding. Ajuria also has oversight of aligning various home entertainment departments in meeting critical path milestones for the delivery of marketing components to successfully hit physical street dates. Ajuria is a graduate of UCLA and holds an MBA from Pepperdine Graziadio Business School. She is currently in her ninth year on the Sony Pictures team.

Jared Beck, 35

Manager, Sales Planning, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Jared Beck

Beck leads the formulation and execution of national product and promotional planning strategies for the physical home entertainment business. He supports the business with analysis of key performance indicators and predictive variables, and evaluates and optimizes his models to drive performance results. Through his analytical expertise and understanding of market trends, he delivers comprehensive plans and recommendations on product, pricing and promotional strategies. He started at Sony Pictures in 2017, supporting the digital and rental accounts in a planning role, and was promoted to his current position in 2019. Beck is a graduate of Miami University and holds an MBA from USC’s Marshall School of Business.

Ilan Behar, 34

Director, Brand Marketing, Paramount Home Entertainment

Ilan Behar

Behar leads home entertainment marketing strategy and brand campaigns for Paramount Pictures productions and acquired films. With a passion for content strategy and creative marketing, Behar is charged with maximizing each film’s potential and scaling campaigns for national or global reach. Behar started his career at Paramount working on ViacomCBS television content. He additionally led marketing initiatives for 20th Century Fox, managing global TV brands such as FX Original Series, Showtime’s “Homeland,” and franchise film releases including Deadpool 2 and The Predator. Since 2019 he has overseen marketing for Paramount’s new releases including Sonic the Hedgehog, Rocketman and A Quiet Place Part II.

Jeni Hatfield Benhain, 38

Director, Data Solutions, Whip Media

Jeni Hatfield Benhain

Benhain applies her extensive knowledge of consumer audience analytics to develop data-driven growth strategies for the world’s largest entertainment organizations, including major SVOD services, networks and studios. Whip Media’s enterprise software and data platform enables media companies to efficiently distribute, control and monetize their TV and movie content to drive revenue and direct-to-consumer growth. Benhain helped shape the launch of Whip Media’s B2B consumer insights product, CVM Insights, and has a strong history in developing marketing strategy and events for major trade and professional organizations, including NATPE. Prior to joining Whip, Benhain spent 15 years working in the B2B marketing space.

John Bennet, 38

Executive Director, Sales, Paramount Home Entertainment

John Bennet

Bennet leads a high-performing sales team on the physical home entertainment business, focused on driving Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray sales through e-commerce, distribution and key brick-and-mortar retailers. Prior to his promotion to executive director, Bennet helped run the Walmart business for Paramount Home Entertainment, where his insights-based approach to selling and strong customer relationships led to several big wins. Collaboration and teamwork define his leadership style, and in a category that has faced just about every imaginable challenge, Bennet and his team have continued to drive sales and deliver results.

Shilpa Bisaria, 34

VP, Strategy, WarnerMedia Sales & Distribution

Shilpa Basaria

Bisaria leads macro-strategy for the revenue group at WarnerMedia, which includes distribution, content sales, advertising and the Otter Media portfolio. She focuses on reimagining existing linear and theatrical businesses, and fueling the growth of new DTC initiatives (including HBO Max and CNN+). To achieve these dual goals, Bisaria leads a team of 10 in conducting financial analyses, assessing unmet consumer needs, identifying and evaluating new business models, and collaborating with the business units to launch game changing strategies in market. Prior to joining WarnerMedia in 2017, Shilpa was an engagement manager at Innosight, a global strategy and innovation consulting firm.

Lauren Bixby, 39

VP, Acquisitions and Co-Productions, Lionsgate

Lauren Bixby

Bixby builds a slate of more than 12 feature films each year, curating a pipeline of programming across a wide range of genres for a variety of distribution strategies and platforms. She handles both the business side, making offers and negotiating deals, and the creative side, often pre-buying projects before production. Building relationships with producers, she champions high-concept thrillers, action, comedy, romance and horror films, and shepherds projects through to release. A 16-year veteran of Lionsgate, Bixby assumed her present position in March 2018 after serving for two years as director of acquisitions.

Jeanifer Clarke, 36

Director, Retail Marketing, Lionsgate

Jeanifer Clarke

Clarke works with sales, creative and marketing to create unique items, promotions and line looks. She also uses sales planning data to pull together items to drive promotions at retail. Clarke joined Lionsgate in May 2021. She previously served in similar capacities at Pebblekick Inc., where she led the strategy for the platform as well as its content catalog of movies, TV shows, games and music, and at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, where she developed multi-channel retail strategies as well as retail-specific programs for key partners including Walmart, Target, Best Buy and specialty accounts. Earlier in her career she was a reporter for E! Entertainment.

Bryce Copeland, 38

Director, Digital Distribution, Sony Pictures Entertainment

Bryce Copeland

Copeland is a strategic business leader who has increased profitability across multiple lines of business for Sony Pictures Distribution. Copeland currently manages key retail partners Apple and Redbox, but over his 13 years he has managed multiple accounts such as Amazon, Walmart and Target. Copeland also serves on the Sony Pictures Action subcommittee, dedicated to increasing minority-owned partnerships/vendors, as the professional development chair of Employee Business Resource Groups, and participates in Sony’s mentorship program. Copeland majored in International Business at U.C. Berkeley.

Pete Corona, 38

Director, Original Series, Netflix

Pete Corona

Promoted into his present position in December 2020, Corona is known for identifying and cultivating genre-bending shows that entertain, are thought-provoking and push the boundaries of imagination. He is a member of LALIFF’s Latino Film Institute (LFI) Industry Advisory Board and a frequent speaker on industry panels, giving back to and raising the profile of the Latino creative community. Prior to joining Netflix in 2018 as manager of scripted original series, Corona was executive director of development for Marvel Television Studios at The Walt Disney Co. and, before that, director of development at All3Media.

Julie Dansker, 35

Head of New Content Sales, Shout! Factory

Julie Dansker

Dansker oversees new content sales and strategy for Shout! Factory and its distribution and production arm, Shout! Studios. She spearheads streamer and broadcast sales for Shout’s tentpole movies and has helped propel many films to industry and press acclaim, most recently the box office success Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice, which won a Critic’s Choice Award. Prior to joining Shout! in November 2020, Dansker was VP of sales of marketing at The Orchard, and in 2019 was promoted to chief revenue officer when the company was rebranded 1091. Earlier, Dansker managed global digital sales at MGM Studios and worked in development and production at Spyglass Entertainment and New Line Cinema.

Laura Delahaye, 34

Director, UCAN Scripted Series, Netflix

Laura Delahaye

Delahaye is a senior leader on the Overall Deals team. She came to Netflix four years ago from Fox21Studios and made an immediate impact by overseeing the Marvel live-action slate. She’s also been an essential partner to the producing team on “Ozark” and played a critical role in the success of The Queen’s Gambit. Early in her tenure, Delahaye identified horror as a programming white space and aggressively built a slate of projects to help fill that gap. Most notably, she became a trusted partner for Mike Flanagan on Haunting of Hill House and Haunting of Bly Manor. She’s also behind the new horror series “Archive 81,” which launches in early 2022.

Dianna DiPrimio, 37

Manager, Global Creative Content, Sony Pictures Entertainment

Dianna DiPrimio

DiPrimio has been a standout performer in content development and production during her years at Sony Pictures, supporting properties across all studio lines of business such as Little Women (2019), A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as well as shows such as “Better Call Saul,” “Outlander,” “The Good Doctor,” “Seinfeld,” “The Blacklist,” “Underground” and more. She has played a critical role in navigating innovative and engaging content during the pandemic by leaning into new technologies to create cast reunions and table reads with shows such as “Happy Endings,” “King of Queens,” “Underground,” “Stripes,” Norman Lear’s collection of shows and more.

Lindsey Emerson, 37

VP, Product Management, HBO Max

Lindsey Emerson

Emerson oversees the team that manages the kids and family and accessibility experience. She has more than a decade of experience in product management, building streaming platforms across educational and entertainment spaces. She joined WarnerMedia in May 2019 and was promoted into her present position in June 2020. Previously, Emerson served as director of product management for The Bouqs Company and managed the growth of the marketplace at DogVacay, which was acquired by Rover in March 2016. Emerson started her career working with several EdTech startups in Seattle, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., where she facilitated growth for video streaming and instructional content platforms, and at Pluto TV, where she served as a founding product leader.

James Frank, 39

Director of Systems and Support, PBS Distribution

James Frank

Frank leads the oversight and support services of the PBS Distribution’s technical infrastructure. He is charged with ensuring that all systems are up and running, and optimized and scalable for the company’s future growth. Since joining the systems and support team in 2017, he has led technology advances that prepared the company to thrive in the new digital landscape, including ERP and royalties system transitions, moving into a cloud infrastructure, implementing DevOps principles, moving to infrastructure as code, and optimizing large data sets from digital. Prior to joining PBS Distribution, Frank was a consultant with Eagle Hill Consulting and a developer with Sapient.

Robbie Giles, 32

Director of Performance Marketing, Fandango/Vudu

Robbie Giles

Giles oversees paid media and studio solutions for Fandango and Vudu. As the first member of Fandango’s Performance Marketing team in 2018, he has worked diligently to make data-driven marketing a focus for both Fandango’s ticketing and Vudu’s TVOD businesses. His team of eight manages all advertising campaigns and supports a variety of data-driven solutions that Fandango extends to its studio and home entertainment partners, with the goal of boosting the performance of their advertising campaigns. Before joining Fandango in 2018, Giles spent the first eight years of his career managing campaigns for Disney’s digital media, licensing and retail businesses.

David Graber, 36

SVP, Cable, SVOD and Emerging Platforms, WarnerMedia

David Graber

Graber manages U.S. strategy for SVOD/AVOD distribution. He manages deals for Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Roku and more than 100 SVOD and AVOD buyers, executing new business for shows including “Lucifer,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “Friends” and “Animal Kingdom.” Prior to joining Warner Bros. in September 2013, Graber served in the Office of the Chairman for NBC Entertainment, managing key relationships and working with producers on shows including “The Voice,” the Super Bowl and the London Olympics. He began his career in the entertainment industry as an agent trainee at WME and as an agent at The Stellar Group in London, where he managed professional athletes.

Maura Gray, 39

Senior Director, Content Partnerships and Programming, Redbox

Maura Gray

An eight-year Redbox veteran, Gray plays an integral role on the marketing team. She helped launch the company’s digital businesses including TVOD, FAST channels and AVOD, and led marketing efforts that included working with content partners and device/CE manufacturers. In addition, she launched the company’s media network sales business while developing custom partner opportunities. Currently, she is developing an enterprise strategy positioning Redbox as an entertainment destination through acquisition and customer paths. Prior to joining Redbox, Gray was at the National Geographic Channels, where she helped launch Nat Geo Wild.

Emily Guenther, 30

Senior Manager, Brand Marketing, ViacomCBS

Emily Guenther

Guenther manages brand marketing for the domestic TV electronic sellthrough business across nine diverse ViacomCBS brands, including the Paramount Network, home to “Yellowstone,” one of the largest home entertainment franchises in the industry. Her responsibilities include developing strategy and business plans for the TV electronic sellthrough business, providing thought leadership on windowing, delivering forecasting guidance, planning paid marketing campaigns and communicating brand priorities to key internal stakeholders. Guenther joined ViacomCBS in 2017 and managed the relationships between ViacomCBS brands and 12 digital sellthrough partners. She assumed her current position in July 2021.

Alissa Gury, 35

VP and Global Controller, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Alissa Gury

A key member of the UPHE finance leadership team, Gury has controller responsibilities for both physical and digital distribution. She leads a central team that provides domestic and international technical accounting support and policy. Gury joined UPHE in November 2016 as director, and two years later was promoted into her present position. Most recently she was instrumental in helping establish the global strategic partnership with WarnerMedia, including the formation of Studio Distribution Services (SDS), a domestic joint venture to distribute physical media. Prior to joining UPHE, Gury spent more than three years as a corporate finance manager at Sony Pictures Entertainment. She began her career in 2008 in the assurance practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Jeff Jopa, 38

Senior Director, Sales Operations, Redbox

Jeff Jopa

Jopa leads the team at Redbox that drives the strategy of the company’s retailer relationships for the kiosk network. The team enables account management success through best-in-class store-level field support, data analysis, kiosk network planning and long-term partnership alignment. Jopa assumed his present position with Redbox in August 2015. He previously served as business development manager for Outerwall, Redbox’s former parent company, and regional business manager for Coinstar, Outerwall’s predecessor company. Earlier, Jopa was client business manager at Redbox from 2006 to 2010.

Ana Kehrberg, 37

VP, Partnership Management, WarnerMedia Sales & Distribution

Ana Kehrberg

Kehrberg oversees a portfolio of global platform partnerships and drives revenue and engagement for all of WarnerMedia’s content offerings, including HBO Max, Warner Bros. and Turner networks. Prior to assuming her present position in April 2021, Kehrberg was director of partnership management. In that position, she and her team were instrumental in building high-impact go-to-market strategies for the launch of HBO Max with global platform partners. Prior to joining WarnerMedia, Kehrberg was associate director of global digital accounts at 20th Century Fox. She began her career in consumer marketing and brand management at Hasbro.

Caroline Kelly, 32

Director, Product and Market Development, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Caroline Kelly

Kelly oversees market development for UPHE’s alternative distribution business, seeking out new monetization opportunities for the studio’s film and TV content and advising on innovative technology solutions to support new growth channels. Key accomplishments include securing strategic partnerships to help expand Universal’s distribution network, including a landmark agreement with 1-800-Flowers to bring digital movies into the company’s suite of add-on gifting options. She also designed and launched a consumer-facing e-commerce platform for digital movie code sales to enable brand partnerships, innovation opportunities and exploration of emerging digital currencies. Kelly assumed her present position in July 2021, three years after she joined the company.

Maggie Leyden, 36

Director, SVOD Channels, PBS Distribution

Maggie Leyden

Leyden leads content distribution and programming strategies for a portfolio of six SVOD channels, including PBS Masterpiece, PBS Kids and PBS Documentaries. She drives initiatives across content, marketing, production and distribution partners to drive subscriber acquisition and engagement. Leyden has been instrumental to the launch and growth of the SVOD Channels business for PBS Distribution since she joined the company in 2018. She is an astute content strategist who drives results and excels at making business recommendations. Prior to joining PBS Distribution, Leyden held roles in sales and distribution at Sesame Workshop and producer relationship management in the film and TV division at The Orchard (now 1091 Pictures).

Dave Lindsay, 39

Senior Director, Product Management, Disney Streaming

Dave Lindsay

Lindsay leads a team responsible for the live and VOD digital media supply chains that power Disney+, Hulu, Star+ and ESPN+. An expert in media supply chains, Lindsay has collaborated with peers at competing studios and streaming platforms to tackle industry-wide problems through working groups within the Digital Supply Chain Alliance, the DEG’s Technology Operations Committee and the Streaming Video Alliance. Throughout previous roles in Disney’s studio division, Lindsay oversaw implementations of standards-based initiatives including component-based packaging, title and version management, descriptive content metadata, and standardized content availability notices.

Kenesha Luney, 35

Director, Digital Operations, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Kenesha Luney

Luney oversees systems development and workflows across multiple teams to ensure film and TV content gets to consumers through digital platforms. She was promoted into her present position in February 2021, five years after she joined the company as digital operations manager. A key player in the division’s digital supply chain, Luney was instrumental in helping UPHE operationalize PVOD under intense time pressure last year and has continued to refine the process to make it more sustainable to get to market in time as the studio’s windowing approach evolves. Prior to joining UPHE, Luney worked as a chemist and spent some time volunteering overseas.

Natalie Martin, 33

VP, Growth and Development, Premiere Digital

Natalie Martin

Martin assumed her present position in January 2020 and is charged with driving revenue by nurturing key industry relationships, ensuring client success through smooth onboarding and skilled cross-functional supply chain support, and building new revenue streams, including the company’s rapidly expanding aggregation business that increases scale and efficiency between digital platforms and content owners. Martin joined Premiere in 2010 in the Mastering QC department and quickly rose in the company by serving in a series of senior leadership positions of increased responsibility in sales, business development and client services, establishing herself as an expert in how the company’s capabilities and solutions anticipate the needs of a fast-growing industry.

Carrie Moore, 33

SVP, Product Development, Premiere Digital

Carrie Moore

Moore oversees all software-as-a-service innovation and advancement on Storefront and PDX, expanding the products’ presence in the market and driving a more streamlined digital supply chain experience. Moore joined Premiere in 2009 as the company’s seventh employee, working in quality control on video assets. Since then, she has served in virtually every department and has helped expand Premiere Digital’s global footprint by helping launch the office in Bangalore. She also developed a product support infrastructure for all software used at Premiere Digital. In 2014, Moore began working in software development, eventually taking ownership of the company’s flagship SaaS solutions, Storefront and PDX.

Molly O’Connor, 30

VP, Business Planning and Strategy, WarnerMedia Distribution

Molly O’Connor

O’Connor is responsible for developing and executing a comprehensive strategy to deliver subscription volume and revenue for WarnerMedia’s Distribution business across HBO Max, Cinemax, the upcoming CNN+ service and Basic Networks. As part of the team launching HBO Max in 2020, she built the strategy to transition HBO/HBO Now subscribers to HBO Max across all key subscription channels. She has deep expertise in subscription math, acquisition and retention strategies, streaming platforms and ecosystems, distribution deal economics, content valuation and engagement, and subscription budgeting and forecasting. Prior to joining HBO in 2018, O’Connor worked in strategy and business development at film and television studio A24. Earlier in her career, she was a management consultant in the TMT sector.

Jenny Payne, 33

Senior Marketing Manager, PBS Distribution

Jenny Payne

Payne develops strategy for, and directs, multiple digital marketing channels including social media, YouTube and SEM, as well as press and communications focused on growing PBS Distribution’s SVOD Channels in the United States and Canada. She has significantly grown the SVOD Channels digital brand footprint and developed new and strategic ways to connect with untapped consumers in a way that generates buzz and engagement while simultaneously driving SVOD channel subscriptions. Prior to joining PBS Distribution in 2018, Payne spent nearly a decade with advertising agencies, focused on growing direct-to-consumer brands and managing multi-million-dollar advertising budgets.

Mandy Rodgers, 35

VP, Client Services, Think Jam

Mandy Rodgers

Rodgers has spent more than a decade leading publicity and digital marketing campaign strategy and execution across the home entertainment spectrum, in partnership with all the major studios as well as indie film distributors such as Gravitas and Cinedigm. She has led more than 500 VOD, digital and DVD/Blu-ray Disc release campaigns, from top blockbusters to independent films, TV shows and catalog-title anniversaries. In 2020, she worked with Universal on its entry into PVOD, quickly pivoting plans for The Invisible Man, The Hunt and Emma. to promote the premium rental concept to consumers. Since then, she has worked with partners and clients to pivot existing strategies, rethinking and differentiating marketing campaigns across all release windows.

Xenia Shevnina, 39

Executive Director, Digital Distribution, Paramount Home Entertainment International

Xenia Shevnina

Shevnina oversees digital distribution of all film and television content handled by Paramount to digital transactional partners in territories including Russia, Israel, Turkey and Poland. She played an instrumental role in championing premium windows in Russia, including a recent premium digital release of Snake Eyes 28 days after its theatrical bow. Before joining Paramount in 2015, Shevnina pursued a diverse career in media and entertainment companies, including several start-ups, where she held executive positions in media analysis, marketing and sales.

Ed Silla, 30

Producer, Rotten Tomatoes OTT

Ed Silla

Silla played a key role in the launch of Fandango’s popular new OTT channel for Rotten Tomatoes and continues to help expand the company’s 24/7 linear programming across The Roku Channel, Peacock, Samsung TV Plus, Xumo TV and other virtual multichannel programming distributors. Clips from The Rotten Tomatoes Channel recently started airing on Reach TV, a live streaming network available in airport lounges, departure gates and concourses across the U.S. and Canada. Silla joined the company as senior video editor and within a year was elevated to producer, orchestrating every stage of production for multiple shows. His portfolio of video content has included “Scene Breakdown” and “Oral Histories,” collectively garnering more than 10 million views.

Valerie Torres, 35

Director, Theatrical Sales and Exhibitor Relations, Shout! Factory

Valerie Torres

Torres heads theatrical sales and exhibitor relations at Shout! Factory and Shout! Studios. She also manages non-theatrical sales, including festivals, airlines, nonprofit, corporate and educational screenings. In addition, Torres serves as the Shout! lead on awards qualifications and submissions and directs grassroots outreach on behalf of the studio. She joined Shout! in June 2021 with a wealth of experience and knowledge, having previously worked in theatrical and exhibitor relations at A24, Greenwich Entertainment and Kino Lorber. During her time at Greenwich Entertainment, she executed meaningful grassroots marketing efforts that contributed to the success of music docs Echo in the Canyon and Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice.

Katie Ullrich, 38

Executive Director, Global Brand Marketing, Sony Pictures Television Global Distribution & Networks

Katie Ullrich

Ullrich is charged with developing high-impact, innovative marketing campaigns for the studio’s tentpole franchises — focusing on the home entertainment transactional space, which delivers significant revenue to the studio. She has a well-rounded background in home entertainment, retail and TV distribution marketing. Ullrich joined Sony Pictures in July 2014 after seven years at Paramount Pictures and has since been instrumental in campaigns behind films such as Jumanji: The Next Level, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and the “Ghostbusters” franchise. She was promoted to her current position in June 2019 and is a graduate of C.S.U. Long Beach.

Benedikt Weber, 34

Head of Marketing for Germany, Austria and Switzerland, Paramount Home Entertainment

Benedikt Webe

Based in Munich, Weber heads up Paramount’s Home Entertainment marketing team for Germany, Austria and Switzerland, working on digital and physical campaigns for new releases, catalog and television titles. Weber has been with Paramount since 2016 and assumed his present position in September 2019. Before joining Paramount, he worked for German movie and television production companies and on Apple’s European iTunes team. He holds a degree in production and media economics from the University for Television and Film (HFF) in Munich.

Christy Willingham, 36

Senior Director, Head of Product Marketing, DTS

Christy Willingham

Willingham oversees product marketing strategy across DTS parent Xperi’s consumer electronics businesses, including mobile and gaming, connected car, pay-TV and content (including cinema and streaming). Her team oversees the DTS Freshman Class of Twitch streamers and gamers, and she also participates with the DTS Craft Masters program that works with current and future content creators. Willingham has spent 15 years championing the importance of audio in home entertainment. After four years at Warner Music Group she joined the DTS content team, driving DTS Audio to become a standard on Blu-ray Disc. In 2020, she worked with the DEG to transform its gala into a successful virtual event.

Michelle Woo, 30

Encoding Specialist, Vudu Content Operations, Fandango

Michelle Woo

Woo oversees the digital asset management workflow for the Vudu content operations team, managing one of the industry’s largest libraries of content from delivery status, ingestion, approval, and release to production. A queer woman of color, Woo also serves as a board member for Palette, Fandango’s diversity, equity and inclusion business council, supporting parent company NBCUniversal’s ongoing pledge to address social justice, gender equality and inclusive leadership. Woo enjoys engaging with her community by taking part in ecological clean-ups throughout the Bay Area, and hopes to make the workspace more inclusive where everyone can bring their authentic selves to the office.

40 Under 40 in Home Entertainment, Class of 2020

Welcome to Media Play News’ third annual 40 Under 40 — our yearly list of young up-and-comers in home entertainment.

The coronavirus pandemic, on top of the launch of such high-profile streaming services as Disney+ and HBO Max, truly has made the at-home sector the lifeblood of Hollywood. Transactional video sales and rentals are up, streaming has become even more prevalent than before, and DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group has even begun compiling a weekly “Watched at Home” chart to track the most-popular movies, TV shows and other filmed content being viewed at home. And with theaters closed for five or more months, premium video-on-demand (PVOD) has finally transitioned from a studio dream into a practical, and necessary, reality.

As home entertainment continues to evolve, new leaders are emerging to chart its course. Once again, our 40 Under 40 executives are rich in both talent and promise. Some are already influential decision makers; others are rising stars whose full potential has yet to be realized.

Our honorees are listed alphabetically — this year by first name.

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Alexandra Schutz, 37

Director, Project Management, PBS Distribution

Alexandra Schutz

Schutz is a media leader focused on process, project and lifecycle management improvement. Promoted to her current position in January 2020, she has overhauled PBS Distribution’s software development lifecycle process, created and improved numerous templates, and educated employees on these important updates. She also leads large-scale technical implementations. In her prior role as senior project manager, Schutz revamped the company e-commerce website. Prior to joining PBS Distribution in 2017, Schutz spent nearly a decade at e-learning company K-12. She started her career at ASET in 2005.

Aliona LeSchack, 35

Director, Product Planning, Digital Distribution, Sony Pictures Television Global Distribution & Networks

Aliona LeSchack

LeSchack leads product, lifecycle and promotional planning for new-release and catalog films across U.S. transactional digital distribution platforms. She started at Sony Pictures in 2016, managing transactional efforts on the Apple, Google, Microsoft and PlayStation accounts. LeSchack was promoted to her current role in January 2020 and immediately brought her strategic, analytical and creative skills to successfully navigate digital catalog strategy under this year’s unprecedented market conditions. LeSchack began her career at one of the largest media buying agencies in Moscow, Russia. She holds an MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.

Amir Al-Shreideh, 38

Senior Director of Engineering, Vudu

Amir Al-Shreideh

Al-Shreideh leads engineering development at Vudu, a leading video-on-demand streaming service that offers more than 150,000 titles to rent or buy. He joined the company — once owned by Walmart, and now part of Fandango — in March 2008 and oversees the engineering team responsible for the Vudu platform services, with apps on smart TVs, OTT streaming players, Android and iOS devices, game consoles, and Blu-ray Disc players. Al-Shreideh has worked on many projects including personalization and recommendation at scale, dynamic and platform-driven client layout and merchandise, in-house search service, and the launch of the “Movies on Us” AVOD service.

Bill Wee, 39

SVP, Original Animation, HBO Max

Bill Wee

Wee oversees all original animated programming for the WarnerMedia streamer, including adult animation, kids and family, and anime. His distinct slate includes the all-new “Looney Tunes Cartoons”; J.G. Quintel’s millennial comedy, “Close Enough”; and the upcoming reimagining of “The Boondocks” from creator Aaron McGruder. Other upcoming projects include Eddie Huang’s Los Angeles-set “Chinos”; the comedy “10-Year-Old-Tom” from Steve Dildarian and Nick Weidenfeld; and “Santa Inc.” from Sarah Silverman and Seth Rogan. Prior to joining HBO Max in October 2019, Wee was VP of original programming at TBS and, before that, a producer DreamWorks TV and Happy Madison.

Brandon Pierce, 39

VP, Creative Director, Hulu

Brandon Pierce

Pierce joined Hulu a year ago as VP and creative director of the brand’s new creative advertising studio, Greenhouse, to bring to life compelling stories around Hulu’s brand and content. With a creative vision and fearlessness to push ideas to fruition, he oversaw the launch of Hulu’s 2019 holiday campaign, “Home Is Where the Hulu Is,” and drove the efforts for Hulu’s original series “Your Attention Please” — a visual and personal journey into the next generation of brilliant black talent in the arts, science and tech. Pierce came to Hulu from New York ad agency Droga5, where he was group creative director for nearly two years.

Brian Day, 35

SVP, Global Strategy & Licensing, Lionsgate

Brian Day

A repeat 40 Under 40 honoree, Day oversees Lionsgate’s transactional licensing deals worldwide, including those for the studio’s first-ever premium video-on-demand (PVOD) releases, including I Still Believe, The Secret: Dare to Dream and Antebellum. In addition to overseeing Lionsgate’s non-theatrical and clip-licensing businesses, Day also leads the division’s business development team, where he’s found innovative new ways to distribute Lionsgate’s film and TV content through
partnerships with third parties such as Verizon, Uber and T-Mobile. Prior to joining Lionsgate in May 2015, Day worked on the digital-distribution licensing team at Paramount Pictures, and at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP in the firm’s Silicon Valley office.

Camila Clifton, 36

Senior Manager, Digital Marketing, Sony Pictures Television Global Distribution & Networks

Camila Clifton

Clifton leads digital marketing campaigns for film and television properties across multiple lines of business. She is charged with developing innovative, multi-platform campaigns that generate buzz and incite engagement among core purchase audiences. She has worked on titles ranging from the blockbuster hit Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle to Academy Award-winning films such as Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Little Women. In addition to working on the new-release transactional business, Clifton also oversees digital marketing efforts for syndicated television series. Clifton joined Sony Pictures in November 2008.

Charmane Bethune, 30

Customer Service Manager, FandangoNow

Charmane Bethune

Serving as a liaison between the customer and product and technology teams at digital retailer FandangoNow, Bethune works to determine solutions, resolve and execute customer service issues, and lead her internal escalations team to achieve the highest level of customer satisfaction for a growing business. Since January 2018, Bethune has been one of the chapter leads of Fandango TECHWomen, a forum designed to advance opportunities for the company’s female technologists and their allies. She also helped launch Fandango’s BEN (Black Employee Network) employee resource group with the mission to foster and grow a strong black employee base within the company.

Chase Brisbin, 35

SVP, Worldwide Television & Digital Distribution, Lionsgate

Chase Brisbin

Brisbin oversees global licensing of Lionsgate’s 17,000-title film and television library to streaming partners including Amazon, Netflix and Hulu. Brisbin played an instrumental role in major content licensing deals this year, including the syndication of the multiple Emmy award-winning series “Mad Men” to Amazon’s IMDb TV domestically and Prime Video internationally, AMC, and Starzplay. She was also responsible for the licensing of the BBC One hit series “The Goes Wrong Show” to Amazon Prime Video domestically. Since joining Lionsgate in 2012, Brisbin has touched all areas of television distribution, from digital home entertainment to traditional linear sales.

Christian Coladilla, 38

Executive Director, Finance Planning, Paramount Home Entertainment

Christian Coladilla

Coladilla is one of Paramount’s top numbers guys. Specializing in financial modeling and optimization, he manages the creation of annual budgets, quarterly estimates, and business plans for the domestic transactional business. He also evaluates business development and title/slate acquisition opportunities and assesses the potential performance of upcoming titles. Coladilla has been at Paramount since January 2011 and assumed his present position in July 2017. Before joining Paramount, Coladilla was a senior analyst at The Palazzo Las Vegas/Sands Corp. He earned his undergraduate degree in economics and legal studies from UC Berkeley, and his MBA from the University of Southern California.

Cole Galvin, 30

Director, Original Series (YA/Family Series), Netflix

Cole Galvin

Galvin is a champion for voices that haven’t always found a mainstream platform, whether that be Mae Martin’s “Feel Good,” a British comedy about romance and addiction, or the Ryan O’Connell-helmed “Special,” about a gay man with cerebral palsy who decides to rewrite his identity and finally go after the life he chooses. Galvin observes that amplifying diverse voices isn’t just the right thing to do — it’s also good for business, since people of all walks of life want to see themselves reflected in their favorite shows. Galvin joined Netflix in 2017 from Universal Television. His understanding of the studio side to producing allows him to be a strong partner for showrunners.

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Deepa Gopinathan, 37

Senior Digital & Partner Marketing Manager, Vudu

Deepa Gopinathan

Gopinathan manages Vudu’s marketing partnerships with studios and streaming devices, focusing on EST/VOD/PVOD new-release titles and catalog sales. She plans and executes a holistic marketing strategy for the lifecycle of a movie across online and offline marketing channels, and has a keen eye to identify audience targeting technologies that connect the digital customer with their living room smart TVs and other connected devices. Before joining Vudu, Gopinathan managed multi-million-dollar paid advertising campaigns at Yahoo! and Zazzle Inc.

Eddie Medranda, 39

Executive Director, Brand Marketing, Paramount Home Entertainment

Eddie Medranda

Medranda is one of the key members of the brand marketing team at Paramount Home Entertainment. Bright and articulate, he focuses on new releases and acquisitions, and is charged with building a bridge between brand and consumer. Medranda has spent his entire career at Paramount, joining in February 2005 as assistant brand manager of international marketing, and moving up to brand manager in January 2008. During his nearly four years in that post, he spent six months on assignment in London. Medranda assumed his present position in September.

Irene Lee, 31

Director, Original Series (Drama), Netflix

Irene Lee

Lee joined Netflix in 2015 and has since become an integral part of the original series drama team. She is now working on several of Netflix’s key overall deals, with the likes of Peter Morgan, Shonda Rhimes’ Shondaland, Jenji Kohan’s Tilted Productions and Michael Sugar’s Sugar 23, as well as such shows as “The Crown” and the upcoming “Teenage Bounty Hunters” and “Bridgerton.” She is also the driving force of the upcoming relationship drama “Sex/Life,” which she is currently shepherding into production in Toronto. Prior to joining Netflix, Lee worked at Warner Bros. Television and John Wells Productions, where she developed a strong foundation of development and production experience and cultivated an extensive network of talent and industry relationships.

Jason Peterson, 39

CEO, GoDigital Media Group

Jason Peterson

Peterson is founder, owner and CEO of a media company that operates seven businesses across rights management, networks and e-commerce verticals: AdShare, Cinq Music, ContentBridge, Latido Music Television, Mitu Networks, the Mitu Shop and VidaPrimo. A three-time 40 Under 40 honoree, Peterson is a proponent of AVOD and SVOD business models with a focus on emerging markets. Most recently he engineered the bolt-on acquisition of Mitu, the largest U.S. multi-platform network targeting Latinx viewers. Founded in 2012, Mitu has received $65 million in investment from Verizon, Comcast, AMC Networks, Upfront Ventures and others.

Jeremy Glassman, 38

Director, Brand Marketing, Sony Pictures Television Global Distribution & Networks

Jeremy Glassman

Glassman champions and drives new-to-format, anniversary, drafting and broader worldwide library marketing efforts, with a focus on the home entertainment transactional space. From developing key and comprehensive global catalog plans to chasing 4K upgrades for smaller library gems, he is charged with equally leveraging and celebrating the studio’s library. Glassman is a graduate of Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. He is currently in his 13th year on the Sony Pictures team.

Jimmy Zasowski, 33

SVP, Platform Distribution Strategy, Disney Media Distribution

Jimmy Zasowski

Zasowski leads distribution strategy, business affairs and research for Disney’s transactional, direct-to-consumer and media networks businesses. He and his team are responsible for deal analysis, strategic planning and developing growth strategies. His team also works in close collaboration with sales on platform negotiations in the United States and globally. A 10-year Disney veteran, Zasowski plays a pivotal role in bringing the company’s direct-to-consumer streaming services — Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu — to a wide-range of platforms. Recently, Zasowski was heavily involved in the initial distribution deals for Disney+ and devising the modified release plans for Mulan across all windows, starting with its debut on Disney+ Premier Access.

Jude Fitzmorris, 32

Senior Product Manager, Prime Video, Amazon

Jude Fitzmorris

Fitzmorris is a creative innovator, entrepreneur and leader with more than 12 years experience in film production and home entertainment. As senior product manager for the Prime Video digital supply chain, he drives the creation of technology that enables Amazon to process, package and deliver content to customers worldwide. Prior to joining Amazon in 2017, Fitzmorris led product development at multiple companies, including The Tracking Board, FilmIntel and FilmFunder. Fitzmorris has been a key driver of digital supply chain initiatives with trade association OTT.X, where he serves on the board of directors.

Katie Soo, 34

SVP, Growth Marketing, HBO Max

Katie Soo

Soo oversees growth marketing for WarnerMedia’s direct-to-consumer platform. She focuses on subscriber acquisitions, consumer engagement, digital campaigns, social media, and audience development and retention strategies. In February, Soo spearheaded the successful unveiling of HBO Max’s social media profiles on Instagram and Facebook. On Valentine’s Day, fans received a love poem on HBO Max’s Twitter feed, teasing several of the popular films and television shows that exclusively stream on the platform. Prior to moving over to HBO Max in November 2018, Soo was head of marketing at Warner Bros. Digital Networks. She previously held senior positions at Fullscreen Media and Hulu.

Konstantin Rimarchuk, 37

Senior Director, FP&A, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Konstantin Rimarchuk

Rimarchuk is considered an exceptional leader and standout performer within UPHE’s global finance team. He manages finance, planning and analysis for the group’s physical transactional business around the world. He is valued for his willingness to jump in and drive major business transformation projects, having most recently played a critical role in establishing the Universal and Warner Bros. domestic distribution joint venture. Rimarchuk joined UPHE in March 2016 and assumed his present position in June 2018. Previously, he spent more than a decade at 20th Century Fox, first in corporate financial reporting and then in theatrical distribution.

Laura Florence, 37

Director, Content Partnerships, Redbox

Laura Florence

Florence leads all content partnerships and content acquisition for Redbox’s digital platform, across both TVOD and AVOD services. She was instrumental in the launch of Redbox Free Live TV and growing the service, aggressively signing new channel partners and licensing content for Redbox’s owned-and-operated channels. Florence joined Redbox in May 2019 with more than 13 years’ experience in both the physical and digital categories of content distribution, including her most recent tenure at Gravitas Ventures, where she ran North American sales and marketing for theatrical, TVOD/cable/satellite, home entertainment and AVOD sales.

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Lindsey Green, 37

SVP, Content Sales, Disney Media Distribution

Lindsey Green

Green is responsible for licensing feature films and television content from The Walt Disney Studios and Disney Media Networks. Business lines under her purview include domestic and global SVOD and AVOD platforms, West Coast-based cable networks, and select pay-TV networks. She and her team also manage the company’s distribution of content to its direct-to-consumer streaming services — Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu. Her client roster includes Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, Starz, Roku and Facebook. Green in March 2020 segued into content sales after serving in a lead platform distribution role at Disney, where she managed key distribution agreements across media platforms including MVPDs, digital retailers, global airlines and hotels.

Lizzie Fox, 35

SVP, Nonfiction Programming, HBO Max

Lizzie Fox

Fox focuses on HBO Max’s wide-ranging documentary slate, geared toward female-skewing, Gen Z and millennial viewers, and covering topics that are both socially relevant and accessible. Fox has championed acclaimed titles for the platform including the Sundance 2020 official selection On the Record; Class Action Park, the first feature doc about New Jersey’s notoriously dangerous water park; and On the Trail, following female journalists covering one of the wildest elections in U.S. history. Upcoming projects include the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion Special”; the docuseries “Equal,” chronicling the roots of the LGBTQ+ movement; and “Heaven’s Gate,” a four-part series on the infamous religious movement. Before joining HBO Max, Fox was VP of CNN Original Series.

Lourdes Munoz, 36

Executive Director, TV Marketing, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

Lourdes Munoz

Munoz heads the HBO marketing team, which moved over to Warner Bros. Home Entertainment in early 2019 after the studio’s acquisition by AT&T. She is responsible for domestic P&L, strategy and execution. She also serves as the HBO International lead, ensuring worldwide cohesive strategy and collaboration. Originally from Spain, Munoz has 12 years of home entertainment and theatrical marketing experience. Before relocating to the United States in January 2020, she was part of the former HBO structure, serving as U.K. lead, based in London. She joined Warner Bros. in Spain in 2008 and relocated to the U.K. in 2015.

Marissa Le, 30

Manager, CRM Strategy, FandangoNow

Marissa Le

Le guides CRM strategy for Fandango’s video-on-demand streaming service. She crafts highly personalized lifecycle marketing programs and customer journeys aimed at increasing retention. By applying a data-driven approach to direct-marketing channels, she continually drives incremental revenue for the company. Prior to joining Fandango, Le worked at Disney ABC Television Group, where she managed CRM marketing and operations for ABC, ABC News, Freeform and Disney Channel. She engaged fans of multiple hit television series, including “The Bachelor” and “American Idol,” through compelling email and push marketing campaigns.

Megan Zamyatin, 37

VP, Accounting & Finance, PBS Distribution

Megan Zamyatin

Zamyatin oversees accounting and finance for PBS Distribution. Since assuming her present position in October 2019, she has evolved the department to embrace new technologies and processes that have streamlined and enhanced the accounting and finance functions. Zamyatin joined PBS Distribution in October 2012 as controller. Before joining PBS, she was the controller for real estate firm Greystone Servicing Corp. and an auditor for RSM US LLP, an audit, tax and consulting firm.

Nia King, 37

Senior Marketing Manager, Digital Distribution, Sony Pictures Television Global Distribution & Networks

Nia King

King manages Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s shopper marketing initiatives for the Amazon Prime Video and Vudu digital accounts. She is charged with developing and driving insights-based marketing programs and strategy planning to grow customer engagement and drive incremental revenue. She has created innovative shopper marketing campaigns for such top releases as Jumanji: The Next Level, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Bad Boys for Life and Little Women. King earned her bachelor’s degree from California State University at Fullerton and joined Sony Pictures in December 2018 after nearly four years at AT&T within the Video Entertainment Group. She was promoted into her current position in March 2020.

Nicholas J. Stannard, 39

Executive Director, Business Analysis, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

Nick Stannard

Stannard specializes in financial appraisal of new and existing ways of distributing content to consumers, at home and on the go. His responsibilities include assessing emerging technology production and distribution opportunities; managing the studio’s finances associated with one of China’s largest SVOD services, Tencent Video VIP; and evaluating physical and digital distribution deals globally. Stannard joined Warner Bros. in May 2012 as a commercial finance manager in London before transferring to Los Angeles in 2015. Prior to joining Warner Bros. he worked in the strategy finance team at Europe’s leading TV provider, Sky Plc.

Rahul Bansal, 27

Manager, Original Series, Netflix

Rahul Bansal

The youngest executive on our 2020 40 Under 40 list, Bansal helps build out the slate strategy around science-fiction/fantasy content and oversees a pipeline of blockbuster quality genre shows such as “Altered Carbon.” He’s currently working on some of the company’s largest shows to come, including live-action adaptations of the iconic anime “Cowboy Bebop” TV series, Neil Gaiman’s opus The Sandman and Mark Millar’s recently released comic The Magic Order. Prior to joining Netflix in December 2017, Bansal was at Anonymous Content, where he worked in the TV literary department.

Rashad Qasem, 31

Senior Director, Content Licensing & Strategy, Shout! Factory

Rashad Qasem

At this scrappy independent home entertainment supplier, Qasem works alongside the SVP of content licensing and strategy, Dave McIntosh, to maintain strong relationships with digital streaming platforms while constantly on the hunt for new partners in the SVOD and AVOD space to develop new opportunities to distribute and license the wide variety of content in the Shout! library. Qasem also participates in revenue projection and evaluation of potential acquisitions of both new independent features as well as film and TV libraries. Qasem began his career in 2012 at Millennium Films, where he worked in international pre-sales and financing.

Rebecca Brown, 32

Director, Global Strategic Projects, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Rebecca Brown

Brown over the past five years has worked on projects across both physical and digital distribution supporting cross-functional teams spanning marketing, creative, operations and finance teams. Her major focus in 2020 has been leading the business transition between Universal and Warner Bros. internationally in the United Kingdom, Japan and other territories, as well as supporting the formation of the domestic joint venture between the two studios in a slightly more technical role, helping to architect the new cross-studio communication platform. Prior to joining UPHE in July 2015, Brown spent nearly six years at Staples Inc., the office supply chain, where she rose to manager of process excellence.

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Rema Morgan-Aluko, 35

Senior Director of Software Engineering, FandangoNow

Rema Morgan-Aluko

A 14-year company veteran, Morgan-Aluko leads the technology group. She oversees the development of Web, mobile apps, over-the-top applications and services, as well as application program interfaces. Previously, she led the development and implementation of several initiatives across Fandango’s verticals, including trailers (Movieclips), video and editorial content, movie and entertainment metadata, commerce, user profiles, CRM, marketing campaigns and programs, and advertising and monetization. She co-founded Fandango’s TECHWomen chapter, which aims to advance opportunities for female technologists within the company and beyond.

Sarah J. De Bruin, 36

Director of Publicity, Shout! Factory

Sarah DeBruin

De Bruin’s area of expertise includes brand communications, cross-platform releases (theatrical/VOD, home entertainment), awards campaigns, film festivals/conventions and new series launches. She serves as a brand communications executive for “Mystery Science Theater 3000” and orchestrated the publicity campaign for numerous day-and-date digital/VOD movie releases, including Standing Up, Falling Down, starring Billy Crystal and Ben Schwartz; Lazy Susan, starring Sean Hayes; and Misbehaviour, starring Keira Knightley and Gugu Mbatha-Raw. De Bruin joined Shout! Factory in January 2012 as publicity coordinator and steadily advanced up the PR ranks. She was promoted into her present position in December 2018.

Sarah Shepard, 39

VP, Original Scripted Content, Disney+

Sarah Shepard

Shepard oversees all original scripted content for the Disney+ streaming platform. She partners closely with external production entities and Disney-owned internal content creators, including The Walt Disney Studios, Walt Disney Television, Pixar Animation, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm. She has been instrumental in spearheading such fan favorites as “High School Musical: The Musical — The Series,” “Diary of a Future President,” and the upcoming “Mighty Ducks” series starring Lauren Graham and featuring Emilio Estevez, as well as “Love Victor,” which is available on Hulu. Prior to joining Disney+ in July 2018, Shepard was co-president for four years at Smokehouse Pictures, the film and TV company co-founded by George Clooney.

Shaina O. Yee, 39

Executive Director, Market Insights, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

Shaina Yee

Yee delivers strategic consumer and market insights for the worldwide home entertainment team, performing multifaceted analyses of the entire entertainment business to identify high-growth opportunities. These analyses include Warner Bros. and competitive brands’ positions across all WarnerMedia divisions down to single-item performance by territory.
Yee is a 17-year veteran of Warner Bros. She joined the studio in November 2003 as retail inventory management analyst and has since been promoted multiple times. Prior to assuming her present position in May 2019, she was director, category management, market insights.

Shavonne Wieder, 39

Senior Director, Global Brand Marketing, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Shavonne Wieder

Wieder oversees global new-release marketing campaigns across the family business, which includes releases from Universal’s two animation studios, Illumination and DreamWorks. She collaborates closely with the theatrical and consumer products groups, and has led marketing campaigns on such key releases as The Secret Life of Pets 2 and How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. Wieder recently has taken on additional responsibility for securing promotional partnerships in home entertainment, procuring multiple partners for the upcoming 20th anniversary celebration of the live-action How the Grinch Stole Christmas. She is a founding member of the Black @ UPHE inclusion group and a leader advancing diversity, equity and inclusion. Wieder joined Universal in September 2012.

Suzie Hyun, 39

Senior Manager, Studio Relations, Samsung

Suzie Hyun

Hyun has led the promotion and expansion of HDR10+ since 2016 that led to the publication of the technical specification in SMPTE and then 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. Her work in the HDR10+ joint venture enabled a robust launch of a certification program that now counts thousands of models of TVs and mobile phones. Her work led to major launches on Amazon, YouTube and, most recently, Google Play movies. A native of South Korea, Hyun holds a master’s degree in Computer Science from USC and has worked at the Walt Disney Co. (on Blu-ray) and Sony DADC (on OTT applications).

Tanya Cornejo, 34

Director, Customer Success, Premiere Digital

Tanya Cornejo

Cornejo is responsible for helping her major media clients manage their content throughout the world with Storefront, the company’s SaaS solution for overseeing the availability, pricing and performance of content on transactional and subscription-based digital platforms in more than 130 markets. She is instrumental in growing Storefront, nurturing high-profile partnerships — particularly during the rise of TVOD, where she serves as liaison between clients and internal teams. Prior to joining Premiere in March 2019, Cornejo was an international account manager at NBCUniversal, where she worked with Apple, Amazon, Google and Microsoft, among others, to maximize digital revenue across new-release and catalog content.

Tiffany Hawthorne, 36

Director, Original Series, Netflix

Tiffany Hawthorne

A repeat honoree, Hawthorne is focused on drama series — specifically, shepherding scripted series for the Obamas’ Higher Group Productions, as well as the upcoming series “Girls on the Bus” and “From Scratch,” from Reese Witherspoon and Zoe Saldana. Prior to joining Netflix in May 2019, Hawthorne was VP of scripted content for the NBCUniversal Cable Group, developing one-hour projects and limited series for Bravo, E!, Syfy and USA Network. She oversaw the production of the USA Network pilot-to-series “Dare Me” and “Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G.,” as well as “Girlfriends Guide to Divorce” on Bravo. She has a strong and thoughtful point of view about what representation has looked like in television, and strong convictions about what representation should look like.

Valerie Zapata, 34

Director, Subscriber Partnerships and Growth, Hulu

Val Zapata

Zapata is a senior leader within Hulu’s marketing organization, responsible for future growth projections, strategy and planning. In partnership with Walt Disney Direct-to-Consumer & International, Zapata led the strategic planning and successful launch of the Disney bundle (Disney+, ad-supported Hulu and ESPN+) in November 2019. Her team also led the analysis that ultimately drove Hulu’s decision to launch a $59.99 annual subscription for the ad-supported plan, and Hulu’s successful 2018 and 2019 Black Friday promotions. With an MBA from Harvard, Zapata joined Hulu in October 2017 and assumed her present position in May 2019. Earlier, she spent three years at HBO.

See a photo gallery of all 40 Under 40 honorees

40 Under 40 In Home Entertainment 2019

Welcome to Media Play News’ second annual 40 Under 40 — our yearly list of rising stars in the fast-changing world of home entertainment.

The proliferation of streaming services, alongside the traditional transactional business, has broadened our industry more than anyone could have imagined. “Direct-to-consumer” is Hollywood’s new buzzword, and what that means is putting consumers in control of where, when and how they want to watch the movie, TV show or other program of their choice — an approach that was behind the very birth of the home entertainment industry more than 40 years ago, with the first rental videocassettes.

As home entertainment continues to broaden and expand, a new generation of leaders is rising to the occasion. Once again, our 40 Under 40 executives are rich in both talent and promise. Some are already influential decision makers; others are up-and-comers whose full potential has yet to be realized.

Our honorees are listed alphabetically by last name.

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My-lan Beauford Auer, 37

Director, Partnerships & Promotions, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Auer manages partnership strategy and outreach for WBHE’s various business units, including film, television, catalog, originals, animation and family. She connects top brands with entertainment properties to create innovative marketing partnerships. Her collaboration with cross-divisional teams such as theatrical or consumer products has yielded campaigns that amplify WBHE releases, drive incremental revenue and drive consumers to the digital ecosystem. Auer joined Warner Bros. in August 2009 handling digital publicity outreach for WBHE. Prior to WB, Auer was an online publicist for a digital marketing agency and a nonprofit.

Christina Avitabile, 35

Head, Content Distribution & Licensing (TVOD/SVOD/AVOD), YouTube & Google Play
A repeat 40 Under 40 honoree, Avitabile leads the content distribution and licensing business across YouTube and Google Play. She is responsible for business development and partnerships for Google’s transactional movies and TV stores (on Google Play and YouTube) as well as licensing and acquisition deals for YouTube. Before joining Google in January 2014, Avitabile spent a year in content acquisition, digital video, for Amazon. Before that she was involved in content and acquisition strategy at Sony Network Entertainment International. Avitabile began her career as an investment banker at Citi and then spent three years in corporate development at Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Megan Blakeley, 38

Senior Director, Customer Marketing, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
One of the rising stars of UPHE’s marketing team, Blakeley’s focus is on getting retail customers to look beyond the hits. She rejoined the domestic customer marketing organization in April 2016 after working for the studio’s joint venture in Australia with Sony Pictures for a year. There, she and her team had just won the “Best Marketing Campaign — Catalog” award from the Australian Home Entertainment Distributors Association (AHEDA) for the 30th anniversary release of Back to the Future. Blakeley joined UPHE in June 2007 as a retail inventory management analyst, then transitioned into marketing in October 2008. Before that, she spent more than three years at Time Warner, managing the distribution of magazines.

Jonathan Brothers, 34

Executive Director, TV Marketing Analytics, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Brothers manages TV digital analytics and pricing for the TV marketing team. He is responsible for building electronic sellthrough pricing strategies to support franchise priorities and drive incremental digital growth. Using tools such as Python, SAS and Tableau, he crafts business decisions based on statistical and machine-learning models and clear insightful visuals. He joined Warner in 2009 as a member of the sales forecasting team to support the TV and family business unit.

Joe Burg, 36

VP, Content Development, Sony Pictures Television Global Distribution & Networks
Burg leads a team of content producers who write and create next-generation home entertainment experiences for film and television properties across all studio lines of business. He is charged with harnessing innovative technologies to enhance the consumer experience and generate awareness across multiple downstream marketing windows. Burg joined Sony in March 2012 after nearly five years at 20th Century Fox in global content development. He was promoted into his present position in July 2019, after four years as an executive director.

Leda Chang, 38

VP, Digital Marketing, Paramount Home Entertainment
Chang leads Paramount’s home entertainment digital marketing team, driving digital campaigns for new home releases. Clio, IAC, and Webby Award-winning campaigns for recent titles such as Mission: Impossible — Fallout and other new releases are testaments to the team’s creative drivers and positioning. On top of leveraging both Paramount’s own footprint and the social media presence of its filmmakers and stars, Chang is instrumental in evolving communication and distribution strategies, establishing direct channels to consumers and movie fans. Recently, Chang has also focused on deepening the team’s expertise across international markets and TV projects. Chang joined the studio in 2017 from Universal Music Group. Prior to that, she had roles with Edelman Digital, Republic Records, The Orchard and Motown Records.

Agnes Chu, 39

SVP, Content, Disney+, Disney Streaming Services, The Walt Disney Co.
Chu is responsible for identifying and developing series, feature films, short-form content and other high-quality entertainment formats for Disney+, the highly anticipated streaming service set to launch on Nov. 12. Chu leads the Disney+ originals teams for scripted, unscripted and content operations, partnering closely with Disney-owned internal content creators, including The Walt Disney Studios, Walt Disney Television, Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm. Chu has served in a variety of capacities since joining Disney in 2008. Prior to her current position, she was executive of story and franchise development at Walt Disney Imagineering. Her first role with the company was managing the development and production of original short-form content for the Disney-ABC Television Group’s digital platforms.

Hamish Chung, 35

VP, Global Financial Planning and Analysis, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Chung is an expert financial leader who provides senior management and executives with the analysis and information they need to make major operational, financial and strategic decisions. His core experience includes TV and feature film acquisitions and distribution across physical and digital platforms. Chung joined Universal Pictures in 2007 as a business analyst in Sydney, Australia. He later spent more than six years in London before moving to the West Coast in January 2015 as commercial FP&A director. He was promoted into his present position in December 2017.

Alex Corrigan, 34 & Adam Rowings, 34

VP, Software Engineering, Disney Streaming Services, Walt Disney Co.
VP, Disney+ Analytics, Disney Streaming Services, Walt Disney Co.
Corrigan oversees all Apple, Android and Web software development for Disney Streaming, including the upcoming Disney+ app. He leads a team of more than 120 full-time employees on two continents. Rowings leads the Disney+ Analytics team as it focuses on providing recommendations that drive customer growth, improve product engagement, and identify the content that matters most for the Disney+ service around the globe.

Andrea Clarke-Hall, 37

VP, Business Development, Tubi
Clarke-Hall leads business development for Tubi, the world’s largest free movie and TV streaming service. She is charged with growing the service’s domestic and global reach, most recently with its Sept. 1 launch in Australia. Clarke-Hall has led Tubi’s app distribution deals and spearheaded Tubi’s partnership with Cox’s premier video product, Contour, and Comcast Xfinity. Due in large part to Clarke-Hall’s contributions, Tubi can now be accessed on more than 25 devices. Prior to joining Tubi, Clarke-Hall managed global business development for Sony Pictures’ Crackle. She also served as an assistant district attorney for six years in Brooklyn, N.Y., where she litigated and tried major racketeering and economic fraud cases.

Brian Day, 34

SVP, Strategic Partnerships, Lionsgate
Day is responsible for developing new business opportunities through third-party partnerships, product development and direct-to-consumer initiatives. He also oversees business affairs for the studio’s distribution of content across digital platforms worldwide, including global platforms such as iTunes, Prime Video and Google Play. Day conceived of, designed and distributed the first-ever digital Steelbook (for John Wick), and routinely finds ways to expand digital distribution through partnerships with Dave & Busters, Xbox and Atom Tickets. Day has also been focused on negotiating global electronic sellthrough and TVOD deals with Lionsgate’s major licensees. Prior to joining Lionsgate in May 2015, Day worked on the digital distribution licensing team at Paramount Pictures, and at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP in the firm’s Silicon Valley office.

Whitney Dickinson, 32

VP, Media & Data, Lionsgate
Dickinson leads the media and data team, focused on driving transactional sales and building a progressive data infrastructure and strategy for the company. She assumed the position in April 2019 and has prioritized advancements in how the company collects, analyzes and activates data. She helped develop and launch Lionsgate’s new companywide site, which not only consolidated data collection but improved brand building, SEO and engagement on the site. She has also been instrumental in revamping Lionsgate’s Martech infrastructure. Dickson joined Lionsgate in February 2014 as marketing manager for the Grindstone brand. She began her career in media on the agency side, at Mindshare.

Michael Edelson, 38

VP, Account Planning, Paramount Home Entertainment
Edelson leads a distribution planning and strategy team across multiple film and TV transactional platforms. He and his team of six develop and manage business plans for clients including Apple, Amazon, Walmart, Target, Redbox and Comcast. Edelson’s strategic thinking and deep business knowledge are integral to providing analytics that move the business forward, from planning successful releases such as Rocketman to arming the sales teams with fact-based insights to drive sales. In his first six years at Paramount, Edelson led the catalog team on brand strategy, releasing more than 200 titles from Paramount’s library. Prior to joining Paramount, Edelson spent four years at Universal, where he worked on the studio’s first catalog releases in HD.

Jeremy Enos, 39

SVP, Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Paramount Home Entertainment
Enos oversees Paramount’s worldwide market intelligence team, which is responsible for market, consumer and retail insights, as well as strategic analysis supporting the physical and digital businesses around the world. With a keen analytical ability and an exceptional grasp of the evolving home entertainment business, Enos is a “big picture” executive who at the same time doesn’t mind rolling up his sleeves to get the job done. Enos has been with Paramount for 15 years in various roles, including market insights, sales planning and financial planning. Prior to joining Paramount, Enos spent several years in London working at a start-up firm in the recruitment industry.

Penelope Essoyan, 34

Manager, Original Series, Netflix
Over the past four years Essoyan has risen on the original series team from an assistant to a manager. She has been a meaningful part of “Narcos,” “Narcos: Mexico,” “Orange Is the New Black,” “Top Boy,” and the upcoming Jason Katims/Jess Goldberg series “Away” and Alex Pina’s “White Lines.” Prior to joining Netflix, Essoyan’s entry into entertainment was an internship for a few months at Tribeca Productions in Jane Rosenthal’s office, followed by three months in New Zealand assisting a Japanese commercial director, Hideaki Hosono. After that she was an assistant at CAA before leaving to work as a director’s assistant for Joseph Kosinski.

Daniel Farkas, 35

Executive Director, Distribution Strategy & Planning, Sony Pictures Television Global Distribution & Networks
As lead for home entertainment title planning, Farkas determines release strategies for Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s content portfolio across physical and digital platforms, including setting windows, calibrating pricing and forecasting performance. Since joining the studio in 2013, he has led the redesign of the go-to-market approach and commercial decision-making apparatus. Farkas’ duties have expanded to include integrated planning across transactional and licensing (pay, cable, SVOD and AVOD) businesses. Farkas began his career as a management consultant with The Monitor Group.

Valerie Gartner, 38

Director, Digital Distribution, Sony Pictures Television Global Distribution & Networks
Gartner manages Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s content distribution relationship with Amazon Prime Video, primarily focused on the growing transactional VOD business. She is charged with managing strategy and negotiations while driving revenue and profitability. Gartner began her career at Sony in marketing in 2006, transitioning to sales in 2009 and to her current position in March 2013. She has created dynamic TVOD campaigns in partnership with Prime Video for top releases such as Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Hotel Transylvania 3. Prior to joining Sony in 2006, she worked at Goldhil Entertainment and MGM.

Tiffany Hawthorne, 35

Manager, Original Series, Netflix
A recent hire, Hawthorne is focused on drama series — specifically, shepherding script series for Higher Group Productions as well as the upcoming series “Girls on the Bus.” Prior to joining Netflix in May 2019, Hawthorne was VP of scripted content for the NBCUniversal Cable Group, developing projects and limited series for Bravo, E!, Syfy and USA Network. She oversaw the production of the USA Network pilot-to-series “Dare Me” and “Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G.,” as well as “Girlfriends Guide to Divorce” on Bravo. She also ran the USA Network internship program and was involved in various diversity initiatives. Hawthorne also participated in the NBC Page Program.

Jeff Hayne, 39

VP, Content Acquisition & Digital Distribution, Mill Creek Entertainment
Hayne oversees all licensing, distribution and production efforts for Mill Creek, one of the home entertainment industry’s leading indie studios for Blu-ray Disc, DVD and digital distribution. He is responsible for managing and greenlighting all of Mill Creek’s new productions; international distribution for broadcast, digital and home video; and digital licensing. Hayne has been with Mill Creek since 2007. He has played an integral role in the company’s transformation, starting with a licensing deal for the Stephen J. Cannell catalog — which led to higher-profile deals with nearly every major studio along with hundreds of production companies, filmmakers and content owners. Hayne began his home entertainment career in 2002 with BCI/Eclipse.

Erin Hill, 39 & Liz Liebman, 39

Directors, DTC-SVOD, PBS Distribution
Hill is responsible for overall management of the PBS Living Channel business, including the launch process, consumer acquisition and engagement strategies. Hill has been with PBS Distribution for four years, holding positions across all digital channels. Liebman over the past year has taken ownership of the direct-to-consumer segment of the digital business, building and leading a team dedicated to driving growth for the PBS Masterpiece, PBS Kids and PBS Living subscription channels.

Feifei Hu, 34

VP, Business Development & Licensing, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Hu negotiates transactional video licensing deals with clients including global, broadband, satellite, cable, IPTV, hotel and physical/digital hybrid businesses. She strategizes across international territories to harmonize agreements and optimize revenue potential. She also identifies, evaluates and executes on new business development activities for the division, including VR/AR, IOT and other connected experiences. Prior to joining WBHE in August 2018, Hu spent six years at The Walt Disney Co., most recently as director of business development at Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media. Earlier in her career Hu was a senior business analyst with consultancy McKinsey & Co.

Erol Kalafat, 35

Senior Technical Product Manager, Amazon Studios
Kalafat is a media technology leader focused on problem solving, product development and lifecycle management. He was promoted to his present position in April 2019 and is charged with designing, implementing and maintaining a new generation of studio technology. He also provides technical leadership to internal teams on emerging technologies. In his prior role as Amazon’s Senior Technical Integration Manager, Kalafat was a key driver of the EMA’s Digital Supply Chain Committee and the DSCA. Prior to joining Amazon in October 2016, Kalafat held various positions at AOL, Verizon, Sony New Media Solutions, Sony DADC, Sony Pictures Entertainment and The Walt Disney Co. He began his career in June 2007 as program manager at Technicolor.

Ben Kallam, 32

Director, Business Analytics, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Kallam is one of UPHE’s analytics gurus, exploring and investigating past business performance to gain insight and drive business planning. He joined the studio as a manager in October 2016 and was elevated to director in June 2019. Previously, he was an MBA intern at Starz Digital Media, where he analyzed the changing dynamics of digital distribution based on multiple performance metrics and built linear regression models to determine the impact of specific predictor variables on electronic sellthrough and VOD transactions.

Olivia LaRoche, 33

Manager, Nonfiction Series, Netflix
LaRoche has been at Netflix for more than four years and has served as an instrumental force in making the company’s first push in unscripted original content. She is responsible for breakout shows such as “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo” as well as first-time Emmy-nominated “Nailed It!,” Peabody Award-winning “Hip Hop Evolution” and interactives such as “You vs. Wild,” with Bear Grylls. LaRoche is a noteworthy convener, bringing all the best talent to the table — both internally and externally — and managing talent and producer relationships. Prior to joining Netflix, LaRoche spent four years at Apple iTunes as a video and music content specialist.

Anne Masuda, 37

VP, Digital Distribution, Paramount Home Entertainment
Masuda oversees digital distribution through global accounts in Latin America, including Apple and Google, and new business for all international markets seeking various partnerships. Since transitioning to transactional digital distribution in 2013, Masuda has successfully driven revenue growth through innovative dealmaking and the introduction of enhanced distribution strategies, more than tripling revenue in two years. She previously managed digital distribution in Japan and Australia, and has also worked in TV licensing and distribution for Europe. Prior to joining Paramount, Masuda worked in distribution at Warner Bros. and E! Entertainment.

Joy Moh, 33

Director, Publicity, Sony Pictures Television Global Distribution & Networks
Moh leads the Sony Pictures Home Entertainment publicity department, overseeing strategic development of integrated media relations campaigns and creating impactful and efficient editorial opportunities for the studio’s entire slate of projects across all lines of the film and television business. Prior to joining the Sony team, Moh’s diverse career saw her managing campaigns for some of the world’s most recognizable brands across the entertainment and lifestyle sectors. In her spare time, she volunteers as a wish granter for Make-A-Wish America. A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, Moh went on to earn an MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Business.

Adrian de Montfalcon, 35

SVP, Business Development & Strategic Partnerships, Lionsgate
De Montfalcon is responsible for driving incremental revenue for Lionsgate’s digital transactional and OTT businesses by identifying new opportunities across the media and technology industries. He has advanced several studio priorities, including expansion of the digital home entertainment customer base, direct-to-consumer engagement, and data acquisition and analysis. De Montfalcon also played a key role in the development and execution of a new technology platform that allows Lionsgate to make digital offers available to new customers through partnerships with third parties. A five-year Lionsgate veteran, de Montfalcon previously worked at Warner Bros., Universal and Factory Made Ventures while completing his MBA. Earlier, in London, he enjoyed a career in finance.

Annie Morris, 36

Director, Product Management, Digital Distribution, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Morris manages the product, programming and pricing strategy for UPHE’s new-release and catalog films for domestic transactional digital distribution platforms. She executes the go-to-market strategy and lifecycle planning for the studio’s strong franchise pedigree. Most recently, Morris led the successful launch of The Secret Life of Pets 2 for electronic sellthrough and VOD, and also oversaw transition efforts with Entertainment One. Morris assumed her present position in March 2016, four years after she joined UPHE, at a time when the digital business was a fraction of what it is today. Earlier, Morris spent nearly five years with the U.S. Olympic Committee, managing global conferences, events and programs.

Jason Peterson, 38

CEO, GoDigital Media Group
Peterson is an entrepreneur, attorney and producer who has worked in the entire media value chain, from production and post through marketing and distribution. His GoDigital Media Group and its subsidiaries Cinq Music, ContentBridge, AdShare, VidaPrimo and Latido Music Television create revenue from a media market transforming from ownership to access rights. He’s a repeat 40 Under 40 honoree, and with good reason: In 2019, VidaPrimo — the largest Hispanic-targeted music MCN on YouTube — launched Latido Music, the first Latin Music television network. Peterson is a proponent of AVOD and SVOD business models with a focus on emerging economies.

Erin M. Rosa, 35

Director, Sales, Walmart Digital & Omni-Channel Integration, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Rosa works closely with Vudu, Walmart Stores and Walmart.com to maximize Warner’s digital sales through the activation of aggressive on- and off-site programs, best-in-class marketing activations, and creative customer acquisition initiatives. She has broad experience across multiple retail accounts, channels and platforms specializing in the development of creative and fiscally responsible programs based on account-specific opportunities and strategies. Rosa started her career in 2006 and focused primarily on independent film throughout her eight years prior to joining the Warner Bros. team.

Vaughn Ryan, 25

Marketing Manager, FandangoNow
Ryan manages paid media efforts for FandangoNow across streaming devices, smart TVs and paid social media. His understanding of device nuances, cross-studio collaboration and consumer insights helps identify key growth opportunities. Since 2017 Ryan has developed a mix of top-performing platforms, accelerating revenue, acquisition and retention growth each year. Armed with brands that span the movie lifecycle, he has helped craft new, creative ways to grow ad reach and effectiveness. Previously, at Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, Ryan managed brand and retail campaigns for Illumination Entertainment’s slate. He gained theatrical creative advertising experience at 20th Century Fox, and international TV marketing experience at NBCUniversal.

Lindsay Sakaguchi, 37

Executive Director, Film Trade Marketing, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Sakaguchi manages the film theatrical catalog business. She is responsible for managing product lifecycle, including curation of content and price variability, to maximize sales and placement across various clients and windows in an ever-changing landscape. She joined the studio in 2010 after completing her MBA from the Marshall School of Business and has held various marketing roles at Warner Bros. since. Prior to that, she worked in operational roles at Nestle, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and MGM.

Julia Salter, 37

VP, Digital Distribution, Paramount Home Entertainment
Salter joined Paramount in May 2019 and is based in Sydney, Australia, where she is charged with driving growth with digital transactional partners in Australia, New Zealand, South East Asia and Greater China. She has already brought her laser-focused account management skills to cover a much larger geographical area, building relationships and growing the home entertainment unit’s overall revenue. Prior to joining Paramount, Salter was digital director at the Universal/Sony joint venture in Australia, managing relationships with transactional digital partners for ANZ. Salter began her career with 20th Century Fox Theatrical in London in 2006 before moving into various roles in home entertainment sales in Australia. She also worked for a digital startup VOD platform, managing relationships with studios.

Mark Sgriccia, 38

SVP, Worldwide Content Operations & Strategy, Lionsgate
Sgriccia leads a team charged with promoting digital standards and practices, expediting content fulfillment and recognizing savings in metadata and supply chain initiatives. He also leads Lionsgate’s effort to architect an enterprise-level release-scheduling solution, uniting the studio’s rights management system and worldwide release schedule across all business units. Sgriccia has contributed to strong year-over-year growth of catalog VOD, realized through innovative windowing, optimized rights management and strong marketing support. Prior to joining Lionsgate in January 2013, Sgriccia spent 10 years at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in various capacities.

Patrick Smith, 33

Director, Digital Distribution Financial Planning & Analysis
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Smith is one of the critical analysts in UPHE’s digital distribution organization, providing financial data and analysis to help guide business next steps. He joined UPHE in 2017 with more than eight years of experience in business strategy, financial planning and analysis. Most recently, he worked in business development at Marvel Studios, where he built feature film ultimates and performed deal analysis, including valuation of the Marvel/Sony deal that returned Spider-Man to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He earned an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management and also gained strategy experience through work with The Walt Disney Co. and CBS Interactive.

Kavita Suthar, 39

VP, Finance, Strategy & Analytics, Redbox
Suthar is responsible for Redbox’s financial strategy and analysis, budgeting and deal support. She works to drive the organization toward data-driven decision-making that leads to better performance. Suthar is known for leading teams to provide quick, thorough analysis that is easy to understand and insightful — and that drives action. She joined the company in April 2016 as senior director of financial planning and analysis, and was promoted into her present position in March 2019. Prior to joining Redbox, Suthar held long-term strategy and analytics roles at U.S. Cellular.

Sarah Unger, 34

SVP, Cultural Insights & Strategy, Civic Entertainment Group
An award-winning cultural and consumer brand strategist, Unger uncovers human insights and cultural trends to build top global media and entertainment brand identities. Since joining Civic, a leading marketing agency, in 2018, she has worked across brands such as YouTube, Apple, Disney-ABC Television, NBCUniversal, WarnerMedia, eBay and, most recently, Apple and HBO as they launch streaming services. This past year, Unger fielded a major study on the future of creativity, which launched at SXSW and was featured on the “Today” show. Prior to joining Civic, Unger led brand strategy at Viacom for Paramount Pictures, MTV, Paramount Network, Comedy Central, BET, Nickelodeon and more. She was named one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 during her tenure at Ketchum as VP of insights and strategic planning.

Shelly Williams, 39

Director, Sales, Sony Pictures Television Global Distribution & Networks
Williams leads Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s physical distribution partnerships and oversees business and marketing strategies for key accounts. Williams began her career in North American sales and quickly rose to leadership positions. A move to the European office expanded her experience in retail growth strategies, leading innovative business processes in new markets. Subsequently, Williams was tasked with forming the North American commercial strategy team, incorporating content lifecycle planning, national campaigns, monetization and pricing strategies for film and TV. Williams continues to apply her commercial expertise to successfully drive profitability with key industry partners.

Kayla Wyatt, 32

Senior Business Development Manager, FandangoNow
Since joining the video-on-demand streaming service in September 2016, Wyatt has been focused on uncovering new opportunities to serve movie fans throughout the Fandango ecosystem. She helps manage B2B partner performance and develops strategies to help scale joint business opportunities. She also develops custom quarterly business reviews and establishes performance criteria with key strategic FandangoNow partners and the Fandango leadership team. Wyatt began her career in 2010 at the big ad agency Universal McCann and later held account management positions at Refiney29, a digital media and entertainment company focused on young women; Vevo, the video hosting service; and YuMe, a San Francisco advertiser insights firm.

Evan Zarider, 31

Senior Director, Consumer Insights, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Zarider leads UPHE’s data analytics team, which helps optimize marketing and distribution strategies across Universal’s home entertainment portfolio. His analysis has led to key decisions on some of Universal’s biggest properties, including Despicable Me, the “Fast and Furious” films and Jurassic World. He is also known for unifying teams across multiple divisions around shared strategic outcomes. Zarider started at Universal Pictures as an intern in 2008 before joining the team full time in 2010 after he graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in business.