Orion Pictures President Alano Mayo Empowers Inclusive Storytelling
Veteran industry executive and producer Alana Mayo is taking the necessary financial and creative risks to bring unique artistic and underserved visions to the movie screen.
As president of MGM’s Orion Pictures, the 38-year-old New York native is making the movies she wants to despite Hollywood’s history of exclusion and lack of originality. She is a young, Black, queer woman whose efforts have multiplied since taking over the television company’s mantle in 2020.
“If you had the privilege, as I do, to be alive in this moment and in a position where you can either tell stories or partially determine which stories are told, I don’t know how you can’t be excited about what’s being left on the table,” Mayo told NPR.
She continued: “That’s when I started going into rooms and saying: ‘You all are missing an opportunity here. And financially, you’re leaving money on the table. And also, why wouldn’t we want to be making more of this? This is some of the most exciting art that’s coming out from our industry today.”
Growing up in Chicago, Mayo loved films, but during her film and creative writing studies at Columbia University, she discovered the underlying problem behind the system that greenlit these films.
“I couldn’t believe how homogenous they were in terms of who’s on screen and who’s behind the camera,” she said.
“I was genuinely like — oh, this system is, by design, exclusionary of a lot of people. I realized it was completely broken.”
In her role, Mayo has been instrumental in authorizing the film drama, Till, released on Oct. 14, 2022. The true story is based on Mamie Till, an educator and activist who pursued justice after the brutal murder of her 14-year-old son, Emmett, in 1955.
She also gave the green light to Anything’s Possible, a coming-of-age story that follows a high school romance between a transgender girl and her crush. The film, which is actor Billy Porter’s feature directorial debut, was released on Amazon this summer.
Mayo’s producing background is a testament to her commitment. Before her presidency, she served as vice president of production at Paramount Pictures, where she worked on Denzel Washington’s award-winning 2016 film Fences, and as VP and Head of Originals at Vimeo.
She was also Michael B. Jordan’s secret weapon as the head of production and development at his Outlier Society.
“Her experience and taste is what attracted me to her and her fearless ability to be a risk-taker in our ever-changing business is what really connected me with her,” Jordan once said, per Deadline.