Nominations Open for Media Play News’ ’40 Under 40,’ Class of 2024!

Media Play News is now accepting nominations for its seventh annual 40 Under 40 issue, which recognizes rising as well as established young executives in home/digital entertainment.

This year, the 40 Under 40 issue moves up a month to July.

This prestigious annual list honors people under the age of 40 (before Aug. 1, 2024) who are on their way up, or already in a position of prominence, at a studio, independent film company, streaming service, AVOD/FAST provider, retailer, distributor or tech company.

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, May 31, for possible inclusion in the July 

The nomination form may be accessed here or at the link below:

40 Under 40 Nomination Form

 

Celebrating the Media Play News 40 Under 40, Class of 2023

For the third year, Media Play News partnered with DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group to celebrate this year’s 40 Under 40 with a cocktail party at the Skirball Cultural Center’s Garden Terrace in Los Angeles on Sept. 7. More than 100 guests attended the event, which included congratulatory remarks from MPN publisher Thomas K. Arnold, DEG president and CEO Amy Jo Smith and Lionsgate’s Adam Frank, recently promoted to EVP of global partner management, sales and distribution. (All photos by Media Play News staff.)

Thoughts From the Top

For this year’s 40 Under 40 issue, I once again reached out to some of home entertainment’s top executives and asked them what they’d like to say to our Class of 2023 honorees. And in sharp contrast to our current political environment, the phrase that kept popping up most was to “be kind.”

“Be curious and make an effort to get to know people,” says Garson Foos, CEO of Shout! Studios. “Find a mentor, or at least people who will be helpful by initiating in-person conversations and meetings. Don’t get discouraged if someone isn’t responsive. You will meet someone, or several people, who will engage and will want to help you. If you take initiative and show that you’re interested, or maybe even passionate about the work or the content, it will be infectious and people will want to support you. And then do the same for those coming up behind you. Be kind and generous — it will make people want to do the same for you.”

From Bill Rouhana, CEO of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment: “In a world that is evolving as quickly, and often unexpectedly, as home entertainment, it’s important to be flexible, to never be afraid of trying new ideas, and to take risks, even if there is a chance you might fail. No one can predict the future; all we can do is rely on the best intelligence, the best data and, sometimes, our own best gut instincts. And through it all, remember to treat everyone with respect, kindness and grace.”

Lexine Wong, head of global multichannel marketing at Sony Pictures Entertainment, offers her congratulations to this year’s honorees and notes, “It’s certainly a fascinating time to be in the entertainment industry. There are many reasons you have chosen careers in entertainment: You have a passion for content and storytelling, you love this industry’s fast pace, you embrace technology, and you relish delighting consumers with boundary-pushing creative, just to name a few reasons. As business models continue to evolve across all segments of the industry, it’s a great time to stand out and build your careers. As you all work to do that, there is no substitute for hard work. Embrace and influence change, be a problem solver vs. a problem identifier, add value, be transparent, be honest, be open, and, most importantly, be kind. You are the change makers paving the way for the next generation.”

Premiere Digital head of growth Michele Edelman also offers her congratulations: “You have been acknowledged by your colleagues, managers and our industry, and this is a wonderful recognition. The best piece of advice shared with me that I love to pass on is, sometimes you have to leave the places you love in the beginning, but you can always go back. In an ever-changing industry, such as ours, this is important to remember. And, lastly, work to your heart’s desire and not to the beat of someone else’s. Your rhythm is what drives you and will be the guide for your success. Lead with love and know nice people do finish first. Being kind is a recipe for success in business.”

Andrea Downing, CEO of PBS Distribution, kept her comments short and sweet: “Lean in, say yes, ask for help and collaborate well with others.”

40 Under 40 in Home Entertainment, Class of 2023

Welcome to Media Play News’ sixth annual 40 Under 40 — our yearly salute to the promising up-and-comers as well as the smart, savvy and driven young leaders involved in home entertainment.

Get copies of our print edition while they last — limited supply!

Now, more than ever, nearly all distribution channels lead to the home. And the executives charged with delivering movies, TV shows and other filmed content to consumers through the three major home distribution channels — streaming, digital purchase/rental, and disc — must navigate a fluid environment where strategies and objectives are developed and defined not just by data and algorithms, but also by intuition and good old common sense.

It’s still a fun, vibrant business, but it’s more complex and more challenging than ever. And the young executives in our Class of 2023 all play a key role in charting the future course of home entertainment, wherever that will be, and whatever form that will take.

Our honorees this year are listed in random order.

Erin R. Moody, 39

Director, Partnership Management, Global Platforms
Warner Bros. Discovery

Erin Moody

Moody leads Apple account strategy, overseeing the management of WBD’s digital streaming and transactional businesses with Apple. She is responsible for driving the subscription and transactional revenue from WBD’s portfolio of content across digital, streaming and linear networks. She works with internal and external cross-functional teams on the development and implementation of national and account specific programs to maximize revenue across the entire content portfolio. She also serves as global account team lead, sharing best practices and providing insights on promotional strategies and guidance on upcoming opportunities. Moody has more than 16 years of experience in home entertainment and joined WBD in 2015 from Cinedigm.

Jason Cooley, 35

Director, Partnership Management
Warner Bros. Discovery 

Jason Cooley

Cooley leads the partnership management effort for the Amazon Prime Video Channels and transactional businesses, along with Vudu and a few other TVOD platforms. He focuses on revenue, subscriber and engagement growth across these partners. He leads a team of three managers in driving and executing strategic growth initiatives across the entire WBD portfolio, including the first-of-its-kind The Batman global enterprise activation in 2022 on the Amazon platform. Cooley joined Warner Bros. Home Entertainment in 2016, after starting his career in the CPG food category, selling cereals and snacks to Walmart.

Paige Sherman, 29

Director, Video Programming
Shout! Studios

Paige Sherman

Sherman oversees programming strategy and operations for Shout’s 10 FAST channels — four branded channels (Shout! TV, TokuSHOUTsu, Scream Factory TV and Shout! Cult) and six show-specific channels (Mystery Science Theater 3000, Johnny Carson TV, The Carol Burnett Show, ALF, Farscape and Trailer Park Boys). Shout!’s FAST channels are distributed on major platforms including Pluto TV, The Roku Channel, Samsung TV Plus, Freevee, Sling TV and others. Sherman manages a team of four channel managers. She was also the mastermind and conductor of several innovative programming stunts such as Piranhathon and Chopping Mall Black Friday.

Emily Higgins, 32

Content Marketing Manager
Shout! Studios

Emily Higgins

Higgins develops content, including copy, images, video and livestreams, for a diverse roster of digital channels under the Shout! Studios umbrella, including Shout! TV, Scream Factory and MST3K. She is charged with cultivating relationships with licensors and talent to execute social calendars for voices such as ALF and John Carpenter. She ensures all brand elements are cohesive in targeting and in tone, from newsletters to the website as well as Shout! Studios’ social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and more. Higgins previously worked with comedian Iliza Shlesinger and has crafted social media for Netflix, Mattel, Marvel and Warner Bros.

Tom Gennari, 39

CEO
BB Media

Tomas Gennari

After becoming CEO in 2019, Gennari repositioned BB Media as a leading global data science and market research firm in the media and entertainment industries, with more than 200 employees in six countries. Under his leadership, the company secured two AAM Mercurio Awards and an Innovation Award at the 2023 NAB Show in Las Vegas. Currently, BB Media monitors 4,400 OTT services and 1 million movies and series across 250 countries and territories, overseeing their offer, demand, metadata, prices, plans and trends. In 2022, Gennari initiated a groundbreaking partnership with Digital i (U.K.), launching the first SVOD audience measurement for Latin America.

Jeff Rauseo, 30

Content Creator
Films at Home

Jeff Rauseo

Rauseo is a content creator who is amplifying the importance of physical media in a digital age. He reviews discs, talks about trending topics in home entertainment, runs a successful podcast focused on home entertainment, and helps educate people on topics related to DVD, Blu-ray Disc, 4K UHD and streaming services. Over the past six-plus years, Rauseo has built the largest community of physical media lovers on the Internet, with more than 225,000 followers across YouTube, Tiktok, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. His mission is to make sure physical media stays alive, both as a social media influencer and as a creator for major studios and boutique labels across the world.

Kathleen Scott, 35

Senior Manager, Sales Planning
Warner Bros. Discovery Content Sales

Kathleen Scott

Scott has been a film and television licensing specialist at Warner Bros. Discovery since 2015. She is responsible for employing her extensive knowledge of the WBD content library to identify licensing opportunities and develop sales strategies across all major SVOD, AVOD, FAST and cable clients in the United States. Scott and her team lead content licensing initiatives focused on generating third-party revenue, while also working closely with colleagues to successfully manage business with internal partners such as Max and a wide array of Turner and Discovery branded networks. Scott began her career in academia, as a film studies lecturer and teaching assistant at the University of St. Andrews.

Shio Toyoda, 38

Manager, Film Marketing
Warner Bros. Discovery Content Sales

Shio Toyoda

Toyoda leads global new-release marketing strategy and planning for transactional film releases. Collaborating with cross-functional teams and partners, she develops engaging marketing campaigns to drive revenue growth. She played an instrumental role in the successful launch of the studio’s first digital movie NFT, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Web3 Movie Experience in October 2022. In 2020, she also worked closely with Warner Bros. Pictures theatrical teams to release Scoob! on PEST/PVOD, the studio’s first premium digital release. Prior to taking her current role, she was a part of new technology marketing within Warner Bros., developing and executing promotional initiatives to drive the growth of 4K Ultra HD.

Brandi Wilson, 39

Director, Content Licensing — Inflight Entertainment
Warner Bros. Discovery Content Sales

Brandi Wilson

Wilson is responsible for licensing and distributing WBD theatrical and TV content to airlines worldwide. She and her team drive revenue growth and generate new business by introducing innovative business models in the marketplace and identifying creative ways to showcase WBD content inflight. Before joining WBD in 2021, Wilson spent nearly 15 years at NBC Universal, where she most recently led airline TV sales and operations. She began her career at NBC Universal in home entertainment brand marketing in 2006, focusing on catalog and then TV DVD. Wilson is a graduate of the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business.

Annie Chang, 39

Director, Systems and Workflow
Sony Pictures Entertainment

Annie Chang

Chang is a key member of the Systems and Workflow Distribution team at Sony Pictures Entertainment. An advocate for storefront management across all digital platforms worldwide, Chang oversaw the rearchitecting of artwork and metadata infrastructure and distribution and built servicing automation. She helps bridge the communications gap between customer, marketing and distribution. Chang began her career in ad sales at Scripps Networks. She joined Sony Pictures in 2012, beginning her career there in home entertainment brand marketing and operations. Chang worked on such popular shows as “Breaking Bad,” “Justified,” “Seinfeld” and “Community.” She pivoted her career to client services and digital distribution and assumed her present position in 2019.

Kassandra Martinez, 38

VP, Operations
Mansa

Kassandra Martinez

Martinez oversees business and content operations at Mansa, a free ad-supported streaming platform highlighting Black content for a global audience. She leads key functional areas across enterprise programs. With a deep understanding of strategies that drive growth and improve performance, she has been instrumental in the strategic management of the organization through strong leadership, planning and program development. She has extensive experience in high-growth industries, focusing on international scale, program management, customer experience and business operations. Prior to joining Mansa, Martinez held leadership roles at Redbox, Facebook and Uber, leading high-performing teams across operations, program management, customer experience, procurement and supply chain.

Seda Melkoni-Boulos, 39

Manager, Commercial Planning
SDS

Seda Melkoni-Boulos

Melkoni-Boulos has made a significant impact across multiple functional areas at Studio Distribution Services (SDS), the joint venture between Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures to distribute physical media. She has led a team responsible for product manufacturing, planning and execution, and currently manages customer, commercial and financial planning. She also played a large role in developing SDS’s social media strategy and manages the ongoing resources to maximize these efforts. A graduate of Woodbury University, Melkoni-Boulos began her career in 2002 at NBC Universal, where she held various positions in distribution services at NBC and Universal Studios and entertainment publicity for NBC television shows.

Lyndsey Hauser, 36

Senior Account Executive
SDS

Lyndsey Hauser

Hauser leads the development and execution of in-store and online events for Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures’ physical home entertainment new-release properties at Walmart and Amazon. Under her stewardship, SDS has delivered record-breaking sales performances on major tentpoles, including The Super Mario Bros. Movie, Jurassic World Dominion and the films in the “Fast & Furious” franchise. A graduate of the Sam Walton School of Business at the University of Arkansas and a nine-year industry veteran, Hauser is highly skilled at bringing comprehensive, fully integrated marketing and merchandising campaigns to life at retail.

Kara McKinney, 33

VP, Global AVOD, Worldwide Television and Digital Distribution
Lionsgate 

Kara McKinney

McKinney leads the international AVOD distribution team and has played an instrumental role in establishing the studio’s AVOD footprint across 36 countries. McKinney built a team of nine direct reports spanning the studio’s U.S. and U.K. offices, while continuing to source new business development opportunities with both global and local partners. She has closed deals for iconic Lionsgate IP with major platforms, including licensing “Mad Men” and “Weeds” to Freevee, and the “Hunger Games” and “Expendables” franchises to Pluto TV. McKinney also managed the launch of 12 Lionsgate FAST channels in the United Kingdom, Australia, Mexico and Brazil. McKinney has been with Lionsgate since 2012, quickly rising through the TV distribution ranks from assistant to VP.

Kevin Brader, 38

VP, Creative — AV Marketing, Worldwide Television Group
Lionsgate

Kevin Brader

Brader oversees creative AV marketing for Lionsgate’s Worldwide Television Group, including managing the trailers and video production team. Throughout his 13 years at the studio, Brader has worked on distribution campaigns for the TV group’s most iconic series, including “Mad Men,” “Orange Is the New Black,” “Weeds,” “Nashville” and, most recently, the highly anticipated “John Wick” prequel series “The Continental,” hit show “Mythic Quest” from Rob McElhenney, “Minx” starring Jake Johnson, and more. Brader has also delivered award-winning international campaigns for series such as “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist,” as well as promos for Lionsgate’s FAST channels.

Marlon Alvarez, 31

Director of Sales Planning and Analysis, Motion Picture Group
Lionsgate 

Marlon Alvarez

Alvarez has handled revenue planning for transactional (disc, digital sellthrough, VOD) and licensing (SVOD, AVOD, linear) platforms for Lionsgate since 2015. He helps maximize the value of Lionsgate’s library by analyzing industry trends to form a custom strategy for each title across its multi-platform lifetime. From John Wick: Chapter 4 to The Blackening to Sisu, Alvarez’s team finds unique opportunities for each title, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. In an extremely fluid post-COVID entertainment environment, Alvarez provides key analysis and information that is crucial to the company’s performance targeted strategies. A graduate of Cornell University, Alvarez began his career at Lionsgate as an analyst.

Andy Chilton, 36

Director of Product Development
Crunchyroll

Andy Chilton

Chilton leads the global home entertainment team’s product development group at Crunchyroll, the San Francisco-based SVOD service, owned by Sony, that distributes Asian films and TV series, including Japanese anime. He is both creative and analytical, driving the development of award-winning home entertainment releases such as the Robotech Collector’s Edition and the “Dragon Ball Super” Steelbook collection, and leading the globalization of the company’s scheduling and forecasting processes. Chilton joined Crunchyroll in 2019 as catalog marketing manager and was promoted to his present position in July 2022. Previously he spent more than seven years at video game retailer GameStop, where he most recently served as marketing manager.

Britt Smith, 30

Executive Director, Business Intelligence
Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment 

Britt Smith

A full-stack data executive, Smith scales architectures, grows teams, implements governance and democratizes data. At CSSE, she is responsible for establishing robust analytical foundations across AVOD, TVOD, SVOD and FAST services for Redbox, Crackle and Chicken Soup for the Soul properties; democratizing data at the enterprise level; and scaling the company’s technical stack while growing the internal BI team. Since joining the company in July 2021, she has introduced data governance and automated reporting processes, while streamlining key performance indicators to unify discourse and simplify analyses cross-departmentally. Prior to joining CSSE, Smith oversaw all data initiatives for Pantaya LLC, a Spanish-language OTT platform and subsidiary of Lionsgate.

Seta Goldstein, 39

Senior Director, Business Development and Partnerships
Vizio

Seta Goldstein

A driving force behind new business and third-party app distribution for Vizio’s platform, Goldstein has spearheaded partnerships with streaming services such as AMC+, The Weather Channel, Sling, Sirius XM and Starz. Her contributions have led to 80% growth and upwards of 150 apps. Since joining the company in December 2020, Goldstein also led the launch of WatchFree+ On Demand, which now boasts more than 6,000 titles, as well as Vizio’s payment and subscription service with partners, which has not only enhanced the user experience but also attracted new users to the Vizio ecosystem. In addition, she pioneered the inaugural Developer Conference for 250 developers and founded the Preferred Developer Program.

Tiffany Meyers, 27

Senior Marketing and Sales Coordinator
Premiere Digital

Tiffany Meyers

Meyers joined Premiere Digital, a media services and software solutions company, in April 2022 with limited entertainment experience. In just a short time, she has become a valued team member by deploying unique communication and marketing strategies and exploiting Premiere throughout the distribution industry and beyond. She works as the driving force to attract new leads via end-to-end marketing campaigns. She has quickly built relationships and established trust with those in the media industry, as well as her colleagues at Premiere. Prior to joining Premiere, Meyers was a digital marketing specialist and social media coordinator at various companies, cultivating website content and creating and growing digital marketing presences for these companies.

Kortney Kesses, 31

Senior Manager, Customer Success
Whip Media

Kortney Kesses

Kesses spearheads the customer success team at Whip Media, an entertainment software platform and data provider. There, she helps illuminate timely TV and film trends thanks to her ability to turn viewership data into compelling stories. She’s an expert researcher with a passion for digging deep into consumer behaviors in order to better understand what content resonates with viewers — and why. Prior to joining Whip in May 2021, Kesses worked as an analyst for CBS, Sony Pictures Entertainment and PPI Releasing.

Mathew Levy, 39

Vice President
Bridgestone Multimedia Group/DeskPop Entertainment

Mathew Levy

After 17 years as the head of Passion River Entertainment, Levy joined Bridgestone Multimedia Group in 2021. He quickly created and launched a new distribution label, DeskPop Entertainment, that has already acquired more than 60 films, including 13 Fanboy and The Mean One. He also has gotten indie filmmakers onto top platforms such as HBO, Starz, Showtime and Peacock. Due to his accomplishments, he has been invited to speak at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival and SXSW. Levy has worked in film releasing since 2004 and has a background in film and TV publicity, having worked on campaigns for New Line Cinema, Sony Pictures Classics, Magnolia Pictures, Warner Independent and Picturehouse.

Justin Fujita, 38

VP, Software Engineering
Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment

Justin Fujita

Fujita has more than 17 years of experience building teams and systems to monetize, deliver and protect premium studio content at scale to consumers. He specializes in leading engineering and support teams in the media and entertainment space. He joined Chicken Soup in October 2018 and subsequently oversaw the successful relaunch of the Crackle streaming platform and the establishment of a portfolio of more than a dozen consumer apps. He maintains several open source media libraries and remains passionate about advancing the boundaries of consumer video experiences through successful testimonial partnerships with Sony, AWS, Elemental, GCP and Mux.

Michael Kosche, 32

VP, International Sales and Operations
Screen Media

Michael Kosche

Kosche is a key member of the international sales team at Screen Media Ventures, the film and TV distribution and licensing arm of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment. Appointed to his new post just this summer, he handles new-release and catalog sales for the vast CSSE library in the key territories of Germany, Benelux, Latin America, Korea and China, as well as multi-territory and worldwide licenses. Kosche joined Screen Media’s international sales team as an assistant in 2014 and worked his way up through the ranks. Before joining the sales team Kosche worked for Screen Media’s ad-supported streaming service Popcornflix, where he managed content curation and ad-exchanges.

Nate Cohn, 34

Director, Global Brand Marketing
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Nate Cohn

Cohn is responsible for marketing Universal’s new-release live-action film slate, overseeing the global strategy and the domestic execution for the transactional home entertainment business across digital and physical. He has overseen such recent home entertainment releases as Jurassic World Dominion, Nope, Cocaine Bear, Renfield and Fast X, managing campaigns across both the premium and traditional windows, and will manage the upcoming home entertainment release strategies for Oppenheimer and The Exorcist. Cohn has been with UPHE for five years. He started his career in home entertainment as an intern while studying for his MBA at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business. After graduation, he was formally hired as manager of global brand marketing.

Jennifer Suarez, 31

Senior Manager, Financial Planning and Analysis
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Jennifer Suarez

Suarez is a key leader in UPHE’s commercial finance group, managing the title forecasting process from greenlight through to performance reporting. She has been a vital force internally in helping to inform on the financial impacts of Universal’s windowing strategy. Suarez designed many of the studio’s models and processes, overcoming the increasing complexities of the business to help provide leadership with added clarity on title performance and expected outcomes. Since joining Universal in 2017, she has been promoted multiple times and currently trains and mentors many of the newly hired finance analysts joining UPHE, many of whom have advanced to elevated roles within Universal.

Darlene Herrera, 37

Director, Global Creative Services 
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Darlene Herrera

Herrera plays a key role managing high-profile projects for UPHE’s creative marketing team. Primarily working on Universal’s family slate of new releases, she most recently led and collaborated on such notable campaigns as Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, The Super Mario Bros. Movie, Minions: The Rise of Gru and Trolls World Tour. She excels at product development, creating and executing exclusive skews for Walmart, Target and Best Buy. In addition to her creative impacts, Herrera is a critical contributor to UPHE’s diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. Herrera began her career with UPHE in 2015. A graduate of the University of Southern California, she previously held positions at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Deluxe.

Tracy Delametter, 38

Senior Manager, Digital Marketing
Paramount Home Entertainment

Tracy Delametter

Delametter for more than five years has managed digital and social media marketing for Paramount Home Entertainment, including new home releases as well as the expansive Paramount catalog. Working with a network of more than 700 social channels, she executes engaging campaigns while constantly streamlining workflows behind the scenes to increase efficiency. Prior to working at Paramount, Delametter led award-winning social media campaigns on the agency side for clients such as Netflix and 20th Century Studios. She has also worked for Honda, and with clients Conde Nast and Estee Lauder.

Ryan Boring, 36

Senior Brand Manager
Paramount Home Entertainment

Ryan Boring

Boring joined Paramount Home Entertainment in September 2022 after working in independent film since 2016. He leads the global electronic sellthrough strategy for MTV Entertainment Studios, BET and Nickelodeon-produced content, as well as the largest home entertainment TV franchise, “Yellowstone.” He works with domestic and international teams to provide strategic thought leadership, develop highly effective marketing plans and assets, and streamline worldwide workflows. Prior to joining Paramount, Boring worked at Samuel Goldwyn Films, where he led marketing, public relations and TVOD sales and ran several Oscar campaigns (Denmark’s Another Round won Best International Feature Film for 2020).

Kana Chiba, 37

Director of Sales, Japan
Paramount Home Entertainment

Kana Chiba

Chiba since 2019 has managed Paramount Home Entertainment’s transactional digital business in Japan and has recently expanded her remit to include management of the physical disc business as well. She has built strategic partnerships with customers in the region, nurturing the market and driving revenue growth. Key to Chiba’s success is strong collaboration, communication, and the establishment of shared goals, executed with focus and agility. Prior to joining Paramount, Chiba held positions at Sony Pictures and The Walt Disney Co.

Cameron Jewell, 39

Director, Documentary Series
Netflix

Cameron Jewell

Jewell joined the documentary team at Netflix in July 2017 and has overseen a wide range of docs, including American Manhunt; Waco: American Apocalypse; Night Stalker; Bad Vegan; Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich; Pepsi, Where’s My Jet?; Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes; The John Wayne Gacy Tapes; The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes; Our Great National Parks; Our Planet; and others. Jewell began his career working in narrative and nonfiction feature development and production at film financier Endgame Entertainment, and then at Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra’s Ombra Films. He continued in narrative and nonfiction television before joining Netflix, working in the TV group at Scott Rudin Productions.

Carly Brady, 33

Manager, Content and Rights Management
PBS Distribution

Carly Brady

Brady oversees independent domestic acquisitions for PBS Distribution across all platforms, including streaming channels, digital and disc. She manages content pipelines, analyzes acquisition and sales contracts, and maintains acquisition and rights databases. She also disseminates global rights information and serves as a key contact for content and rights inquiries. Brady joined PBS Distribution in October 2016 after stints at Siren Media, where she oversaw rights and clearances for more than a dozen TV series, and National Geographic, where she oversaw the completion of acquired footage logs, music cue sheets and rights waivers.

Briana Larsen, 36

VP, Content Strategy and Business Development
Xperi

Briana Larsen

A lawyer by training, Larsen oversees contract negotiations and partnership management for subscription, transactional and vMVPD streaming services. This includes the integration of these services across Xperi’s product lines for consumers, TV and automotive OEMs, and pay-TV operators worldwide. She manages Tier 1 partnerships with major streaming services including Netflix, Prime Video, Max, YouTube and Disney+. Prior to the Xperi merger, Larsen led business development for TiVo’s product and streaming partnerships. Earlier in her career, Larsen worked as an assistant in the legal department at WME and then practiced law at a boutique tech transactions law firm in Menlo Park, Calif. She then joined the legal team at Fan TV, which was acquired by TiVo in 2014.

Vikram Arumilli, 37

SVP and GM, Streaming and Consumer Technology
Imax

Vikram Arumilli

Arumilli oversees the SSIMWAVE and Imax Enhanced divisions, growing sectors of the business that combine proprietary streaming technology and remastered content to leverage the home entertainment market. He also serves as a board member for SSIMWAVE, a wholly owned subsidiary of Imax. He joined Imax in October 2019 as chief of staff and was promoted into his present position in 2021. Prior to joining Imax, Arumilli was a consultant with McKinsey & Company and founded The Brainplex, an edtech startup focused on the primary school market in India. He is a graduate of Stanford University and earned an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s The Wharton School.

Marija Masalskis, 38

Senior Principal Analyst — TV, Video and Advertising
Omdia

Marija Masalskis

One of the leading analysts in the digital entertainment industry, Masalskis leads U.S. market research for Omdia across pay-TV and online video, advertising and studio strategy. She joined Screen Digest (now part of Omdia) in 2007 in London, covering online video, digital music and connected devices research areas, and rejoined the company in 2020. In the interim, she served as director of research for the New York-based trade association Digital Content Next (formerly the Online Publishers Association), and also worked in ad tech at the San Francisco branch of Index Exchange, a supply-side optimization platform.

Samuel Harowitz, 38

VP, Content Acquisition and Partnerships
Tubi

Sam Harowitz

Harowitz leads all third-party licensed programming acquisitions with indie partners and major studios and brands for Tubi. He also manages international content acquisition, sports and FAST channels. On the heels of a banner content year for Fox Corp.’s ad-supported video-on-demand service, Harowitz is instrumental in helming the expansion of Tubi’s content library of more than 50,000 titles. Prior to joining Tubi in November 2021, Harowitz most recently oversaw TV content acquisitions at Freevee Amazon’s AVOD service formerly known as IMDb TV, where he led third-party licensed programming and optimized its first-run licensing program. Previously, Harowitz held senior roles at A+E Networks, Lisa Kudrow and Dan Bucatinsky’s Is or Isn’t Entertainment, and FremantleMedia.

Sophie-Marie Prime, 27

Critic Community Manager
Rotten Tomatoes

Sophie-Marie Prime

Prime is focused on driving positive change within entertainment criticism and has been instrumental in numerous Rotten Tomatoes-sponsored initiatives. This includes Rotten Tomatoes’ Critics Outreach and Grant Program, supporting aspiring and emerging critics from underrepresented groups through donations to film festival press inclusion programs, student scholarships, and educational and early career development resources. Prime is also helping Rotten Tomatoes elevate diverse voices and points of view across the brand’s original editorial and video programming on OTT, social content, podcasts, books and more.

Clifford Hilo, 39

Senior Manager, Distribution Ops
Disney Streaming

Clifford Hilo

Hilo oversees the global operations pipeline for Disney+ and Hotstar for artwork and metadata operations. He most recently won the companywide Disney+ Stream On Innovation award for building a data pipeline that tracks Disney’s global volume of operational data and his earlier work on automated AI artwork QC. He and his team have navigated Disney+’s exponential growth like a true tech startup. Hilo says he’s “thrilled” with the growth in AI and “can’t wait” to build even better and faster tools for Disney. Prior to joining Disney in October 2019, Hilo spent seven years at Netflix, where he co-founded the Asian Employees ERG.

Bianca Bridges, 34

Director, Partnerships Strategy and Integrated Marketing
Disney Streaming

Bianca Bridges

Bridges oversees high-impact marketing campaigns with notable partners including Verizon, American Express, Imax and more. She is charged with developing account strategies that drive revenue and subscriber growth and retention for both Disney+ and the Disney Bundle. She is also passionate about investing in diversity, equity and inclusion efforts and was recognized by her organization with a “Stream On” Award for co-founding an employee initiative to advance inclusion within Disney+ marketing. Bridges began her career at The Walt Disney Co. in 2011 and has since held marketing roles with increased responsibilities across home entertainment, consumer products and integrated retail.

Aijah Keith, 38

Senior Manager, Content Acquisitions
Hulu

Aijah Keith

Keith oversees Hulu’s independent film licensing strategy as well as the Disney-owned streamer’s various licensing partnerships and output deals with leading independent distributors. Most recently, she played an integral part in securing an output partnership with Roadside Attractions and AMC Network’s film labels IFC Films and RLJ Entertainment, as well as the acquisition of the Hulu Original film Self Reliance from MRC and Paramount. Prior to joining Hulu in August 2021, Keith was the director of acquisitions at IFC Films, where she led acquisitions on some of the most critically acclaimed independent films in the international marketplace.

Nominations Now Being Accepted for Media Play News’ Annual ’40 Under 40′ Issue

Media Play News has opened nominations for its sixth annual 40 Under 40 issue, which recognizes up-and-coming as well as established young executives involved in home entertainment.

This year, the 40 Under 40 issue will once again be published in August.

This prestigious list honors people under the age of 40 (before Aug. 1, 2023) 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 the best and the brightest — talented young people who have distinguished themselves in some fashion and are looked upon by their peers as well as by their managers as rising stars,” 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 9 for possible inclusion in the Aug. 21 issue. 

The nomination form may be accessed at this link or below:

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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 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.