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The Hollywood executive

Lauren Kisilevsky, BA 99
November 6, 2023
By Richard Burnett, BA 88

Portrait of a smiling woman wearing black-framed glasses. She is wearing a blue sweater and pale-pink collared shirt.

Lauren Kisilevsky enjoys the fast pace of the Hollywood film industry. During the Montreal native’s impressive journey to Tinseltown, she rose from director of Development at Disney Channel to senior vice-president of Disney Branded Television. Kisilevsky oversaw The Descendants franchise, the Zombies franchise, Upside-Down Magic, Secret Society of Second Born Royals and the Emmy-nominated Spin and Sneakerella.

In 2023, Kisilevsky was tapped to oversee live-action Family, Kids and YA programming as executive vice-president at Hello Sunshine, the Reese Witherspoon co-founded production company behind The Morning ShowDaisy Jones & the Six and The Last Thing He Told Me.

Kisilevsky says her leadership role at Hello Sunshine is particularly motivating because “we centre storytelling on female protagonists and give them agency. We are a vision-driven company on a mission to reframe the narrative for women.”

Biggest career moment

“This past year at the inaugural Children’s and Family Emmy Awards, a movie that I had the opportunity to develop for five years and oversee, called Sneakerella, was nominated 11 times. It was a challenging and important project that I’m really proud of.”

Career challenge

“Getting anything made is hard. Making anything great is really hard. A lot of what I’ve experienced, especially at this point in my career, involves a lot of problem solving.”

Influential person at Concordia

“The late professor Virginia Nixon, who was my art history teacher in the Liberal Arts College. She taught me how to write, and while taking her class, I began to think visually. I remember her telling me, ‘Say what you want and don’t overthink it.’ I still have her voice in my head when I’m writing.”

Career advice

“It’s a very competitive business, but it’s also incredibly relationship-driven. The people you encounter over the course of your career come back over and over again. It’s worth treating people with humanity and compassion.”

On giving back

“Over the course of my career, I’ve had mentorship from female leaders, so I really try to connect with younger executives. I especially spend a lot of time with young moms exploring how to navigate the workplace and the demands of the entertainment business.”

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