Don't Believe Me, Just Watch
Career Magazine

Don’t Believe Me, Just Watch

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Alana Mayo
(Image courtesy of Hollywood Reporter)

Alana Mayo
VP of Production, Paramount
This experienced 31-year-old production executive at Paramount Pictures is one of the few blacks shaking things up on the film development side. But her talents don’t stop there. She also produced the acclaimed civil rights drama Selma.

Mayo has been the driving force behind script acquisitions such as Bounty, a crime thriller starring Will Smith and purchased by Paramount in February 2015, and Ex Machina, the British sci-fi thriller that was lauded by critics as among the best in the genre in recent years. She’s also one of the creative executives behind Interstellar and Noah.

She oversees development on films including the soon-to-come political thriller Hacking the President’s DNA, which was recently adapted from an article written in The Atlantic about advancements in bioengineering and individualized medicine that are enough to create an individualized virus to wipe out specific individuals, even the president.

Though she majored in English at Columbia University in New York City, Mayo worked with filmmakers such as Lee Daniels and Warrington Hudlin before moving to Los Angeles to pursue her goal of working in feature film production and development. Before becoming an executive, she worked as an assistant to Warner Bros. producer Andrew Lazar. She then went to Twentieth Century Fox as a creative executive before heading to Paramount Pictures.

Dantley Davis
Design Director, Netflix
Dantley Davis“Design is the intersection of technology and art, and those are two things I’ve been passionate about since I’ve been a little kid,” says Davis, design director for Netflix. Davis leads a team of designers and prototypers that create the user interface for Netflix for all mobile devices. “What’s most compelling is reflecting back on the new user experiences that my team will be shipping to Netflix that will continue to disrupt Hollywood and the cable industry.”

Davis’s days at Netflix vary based on the scope of a project and the point within the development life cycle. “First, I generally check in with my team. I provide feedback, critique, and conduct whiteboarding sessions to work through design problems. I also work with my engineering partners to make sure the state of the actual code aligns to the core goals from a design and product standpoint.” Additionally, he works with product management partners to make sure current projects align with Netflix’s core business strategy.

So how does one enter the field? “It really starts with being curious, looking at the world around you and all the products that you interact with, and realizing that everything you touch and engage with has been designed by someone.” Davis encourages those interested to think about business problems they want to solve for a given company and ways to improve it from a customer standpoint and to create a website or app for the company. “Just start to design and build that particular concept. Through the exercise of building you’ll start to develop a craft.”

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