Sheila Nevins may or may not ring a bell to you, but she's definitely a stamp in the business. She is the president of HBO Documentary Films. Over the course of her career, Sheila Nevins has garnered 9 Academy Awards, 13 Primetime Emmys, 22 News and Documentary Emmys, and 18 George Foster Peabody Awards for HBO. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Can you say #BEAST!
I attended a talkback with Nevins where she discussed her recently released novel "You Don't Look Your Age...And Other Fairytales" loosely based on her career and some of the pivotal lessons she's learned along her journey. Moderated by her dear friend Rosie O'Donnell, the conversation was delightfully humorous and pleasantly entertaining as the two media mavens exuted a light and jovial energy joking back and forth throughout the conversation. O'Donnell pointed out one of the tales in Nevins' book about sleeping with executives for promotions. Nevins openly admitted to "putting out" for promotions in the beginning of her career, which she began in her early 20's. She detailed that "it was the 60's and that's what I thought you had to do. I thought that's how the game was played." Perspective is everything. She says that she didn't view it as though she were whoring herself out. She viewed the vessel of sex as a "tool" to get ahead. "Well you know, you get laid and you take your promotion," Nevins noted in a casually comedic tone.
Nevins further detailed that it wasn't until she came across a woman in the industry who became her mentor and taught her about the business and educated her on the women's suffrage movement, that she learned that there was a different way to advance and that sleeping her way to the top wasn't how the game was played at all. "It was actually quite the opposite," she stated.
The conversation was both entertaining and empowering. I appreciated Nevins for being honest and transparent. Being a woman in media myself, I hope to have an accomplished career such as Nevins has aquired. As Nevins pointed out, there are many ways to attain the level of success you desire. Some ways will get you father than others with more respect. It's simply a matter of choice and perspective.