Strong girls and women whose wishes come true—that’s a common theme in movies and TV shows produced by Debra Martin Chase.
One of a handful of African American producers in Hollywood, Chase is responsible for (among others) The Princess Diaries, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, The Cheetah Girls, and Sparkle. She is also the producing power behind more adult fare, including the documentary Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream, Courage Under Fire, and the TV series 1-800-Missing.
In an industry where the bottom line rules, Chase knows how to create productions audiences love. But she says the true rewards come when she learns that one of her movies has had an impact on people.
Chase was moved to tears when one young actress described The Cheetah Girls as a life-changing experience that taught her about the importance of friendship. She was equally proud to see the public embrace a TV production of Cinderella with a multiracial cast. “I just know what it would have meant for me as a young girl to have a black Cinderella,” Chase says. “When I’m successful, I’m able to take that fantasy, that wish fulfillment, and imbue it with values and messages that I believe are valuable to everybody, but particularly to young people.”
Whatever project, Chase says she is drawn to some variation of “We all have the power within ourselves to be anything that we want to be.” That’s a powerful message the two-time Emmy nominee hopes will empower viewers everywhere.