Camillia Monet, CEO and Executive Producer of Esperanza Productions, LLC Spotlight – Top Female Entrepreneurs of 2015 in Hollywood

Camillia Monet, CEO of Esperanza Productions at Paramount Studios

 

Camillia Monet, CEO of Esperanza Productions at Paramount Studios

 

Camillia Monet, actress, writer, producer, has not been easily deterred by the male dominated entertainment industry.  Having grown up as the youngest of five sisters and one brother, Monet learned very early that being female did not mean being meek or passive.  Possessing a healthy dose of competition was key to becoming noticed in the household.  Later, prior to receiving her Masters from Yale School of Drama, Monet began competing for the more substantive male roles including landing the self-titled lead in Richard III.  Once in Los Angeles and facing the reality of the high male-to-female ratio of acting roles, she changed her career strategy to include the entrepreneurial aspects of producing by attending the highly reputable UCLA Producers Program.  That same year, she founded Esperanza Productions, LLC (named after her mother, Esperanza).  During the first seven years of business over 20 projects were produced.  Lionsgate acquired her latest film, Devil May Call (2014)--the latest achievement in a remarkable 20-year career in entertainment.  Monet has also appeared in front of the camera in such hits as War of the Worlds (2005), directed by Steven Spielberg, playing opposite Tom Cruise, and Seabiscuit (2003) opposite Tobey Maguire.  In television, she played recurring roles on shows such as Emmy award winning The Shieldand Saving Grace

Camillia Monet on the set of The Shield

 

Camillia Monet and Steven Spielberg on the set of War of the Worlds

Camillia Monet and Tom Cruise prep for a scene on the set of War of the Worlds

 

The Esperanza Productions team meets to discuss projects.

Convening her team in a conference room on the Paramount Studios lot, Monet discusses upcoming projects, investment deals and distribution opportunities. She creates a distinguished business platform by cultivating a diverse team of talented people.  But it is a combination of her risk-taking and skills as an executive that have landed her among the power elite film and television entrepreneurs in Hollywood. 

The Esperanza Productions Team convenes for "think tank"

 

Camillia Monet behind the scenes on the set of Devil May Call

Esperanza Productions' office is the same office used in several scenes of the classic film "Sunset Boulevard" on the Paramount Studios lot.

 According to Fortune, the number of female CEOs leading Fortune 500 companies is on the rise.  But certainly not at a very fast rate; women only represent 4.8 % of all CEOs on the Fortune 500 list.  “For those keeping score of women on the Fortune 500, here’s some good news: The definitive ranking of America’s biggest companies boasts some 24 female CEOs, up from 20 a year ago, and more than at any point since Fortune started compiling executive gender in 1998.”  Source: Fortune Magazine

Brittany Darby pitches a short form content idea to the Esperanza Productions team.

Camillia Monet attends the Figari Film Festival in Italy

Hollywood has received much criticism lately for lack of equal pay for women as well as number of females in leadership and crew roles.  Photos of Meryl Streep reacting to Patricia Arquette’s Academy Award 2015 speech flooded the Internet almost immediately.  After accepting her award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Boyhood, Arquette caused quite an uproar during her inspiring acceptance speech about the gender pay gap.  This certainly caused much debate and discussion and might possibly have been a pivotal moment in the evolution of female empowerment in Hollywood.  Monet feels that she empowers the female workforce simply by attracting the best talent, “It’s not that we have some explicit agenda to hire women – we just happen to find a lot of great people… that happen to be women.” 

Camillia Monet and Steven Spielberg on the set of War of the Worlds

 

The crew of Two Dads produced by Esperanza Productions

When Monet arrived in Los Angeles she was well versed in the creative aspects of the entertainment industry but had no background in the business aspects.  Starting a company, including managing a team, allowed her to grow as a person as well as an executive. “While working on War of the Worlds, in between takes I would talk with Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise and would ask them ‘What do you do to be at the top of your game?’  They were incredibly giving.  Tom revealed, ‘I still go to school and still keep learning.’  Steven told me to learn everything that you can in each department, from a 1st AD’s responsibilities, to a gaffer’s job, to how to distribute a film.  That is what inspired me to go back to school and attend UCLA.” Monet’s business acumen yields powerful partnerships with top Hollywood producers as well as investors and business partners from Europe, Asia, and other parts of the globe.

Camillia Monet with Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg on the set of War of the Worlds

The Esperanza Productions team takes a break to pose in front of Paramount Studios.

Monet and her team at Esperanza collaborate with leading organizations such as the Sundance Institute, the Gersh Agency, AT&T and American Film Institute.  Esperanza has active partnerships with Angel & Bear Productions in Asia and Scott Mednick Productions in Hollywood, which is currently in production on several projects including Roadrunner The Movie and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2

Camillia Monet discusses a project with Bill Mueller

 

Camillia Monet with Van Hansis and Corri English on the set of Devil May Call

When asked whether her approach varies between working with men or women her answer is absolute, “I treat each interaction, whether male or female, the same--with the focus being on who they are as a businessperson, what they want, and how I can help them."  When asked about the future of females in Hollywood, she says, “Having been brought up in a female dominated household, it's natural that complex female stories continue to resonate with me.  Perhaps that will be my contribution to entertainment, who knows?  At this point being the best I can be while championing amazing storytelling is the goal."

 

Esperanza Productions at Paramount Studios.

Esperanza Productions’ Team

Jessica Lynn Murray is Head of Operations at Esperanza Productions and has been with the company since 2009.  Murray is responsible for overseeing operations and strategy, distribution partnerships and business affairs.  She explains what makes Monet’s leadership successful, “Camillia is great about everyone having a voice.  She has open ears and is always ready to listen.  She likes to make things fun. It’s never boring.”  Murray is currently studying entertainment law at Southwestern Law School and anticipates graduating and receiving her J.D. in Spring 2016.

William Mueller, Head of Development, has been responsible for identifying, securing and developing both film and television projects for Esperanza Productions since 2008.  His extensive background in development, including for such prestigious industry luminaries as Alan J. Pakula [To Kill A Mockingbird, All The Presidents Men) and Oscar -winning producer Ed Saxon (Silence Of The Lambs, Philadelphia, Adaptation), makes his talents invaluable for bringing top projects into the company. “I’ve personally been witness to Camillia’s confidence and business savvy growth, years ago she would fret when prepping to meet an investor or high level executive, however, she’d always come back nailing the meeting. Now with her experience, discriminating palette and a keen eye on material in tow, she knows what she brings to the table & helps the other person achieve what they need. Cam is invaluable to almost anyone who meets her.”

Brittany Darby, Digital Content and Marketing Manager, focuses on online and digital content as well as marketing, publicity, and social media. “Camillia has a distinctive discerning eye for talent both in the people she hires as well as the content we take on. She also has this incredible ability to empower all of us to live to our fullest potential.”  Darby continues,  “ She makes it a safe place to pitch an idea in the room; you’ll get constructive feedback which makes the product all the more powerful.”

Coni Lancaster, Physical Production/UPM, brings over thirty years of experience as a producer and assistant director to the table.  She explains what makes working with Monet so meaningful, “Cam exudes confidence, attitude, and fearlessness.   She is a great communicator who likes to put as many projects on the table as possible since she is acutely aware of how long it takes to get the proverbial ball rolling.  All ideas are welcome.  She does not want to be any "ONE" thing because her dreams and aspirations are much higher.  I can see Esperanza branching out.  Camillia surrounds herself with this group of people (primarily women and a couple of great guys) and I love the age range and the diversity.  I think it is smart to realize that you are only as good as your support system and she does.  Above everything else, Camillia has a kind heart which makes you want to work with her.”

Daniel Chisholm, Strategic Advisor, focuses on driving revenue for the company.  “It still frustrates me that there’s this whole 70%-of-what-a-man-makes standard that’s out there right now…and that’s ridiculous.”  He explains why the staff is mostly female. “You look in the conference room and I’m the only guy in there. And that’s not because there was a mandate.  Honestly, this has been a natural process of having the best talent and the best fit happen to be female…it’s a good way to see us maybe turning a corner in Hollywood.”

For more information, please visit the Esperanza Productions Official Website.

Watch the “Devil May Call” trailer from Lionsgate here:

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