Emmy-nominated and Peabody Award-winning motion picture and television producer Debra Martin Chase ’77 will visit campus to speak with students and other members of the Mount Holyoke community on Friday, February 22 at 1:30 pm in Dwight 101.
Billed as part of the Inside the Studio series, the event will feature Chase – who is a Mount Holyoke trustee – speaking with interviewer Viviana Mauri '14, a journalism, media, and public discourse Nexus student, and fielding questions from the audience about her journey from Mount Holyoke to Hollywood.
Chase is the first African American woman to have her own producing deal at a major studio. Her company, Martin Chase Productions, has been affiliated with the Walt Disney Company for more than ten years. In March 2009, Essence magazine named her one of the most powerful African Americans in Hollywood; in 2007, 2008, and 2009, Ebony Magazine named her among the 150 Most Influential African Americans in the country. In December, Black Enterprise Magazine selected her as the only woman in the Ten Most Bankable African American Movie Producers in Hollywood, based upon worldwide box office sales.
Chase’s filmography includes three hit movie franchises: The Princess Diaries, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and The Cheetah Girls. She is also the executive producer of the Disney Channel musical Lemonade Mouth; the producer of Just Wright, winner of the 2011 NAACP Image Award for Best Screenplay and recipient of four Image Award nominations, including Best Picture; the executive producer of the Lifetime Television series Missing, and one of the executive producers of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, starring Brandy, the late Whitney Houston, and Whoopi Goldberg. Her most recent film, Sparkle, was a remake of the 1976 classic musical for Sony Pictures, starring Jordin Sparks and Houston. She also recently produced Elixir, the first musical for ABC Family, and a new movie for the American Girl company, McKenna Shoots for the Stars.
Chase, who received her J.D. from Harvard Law School, began her career as an attorney and worked at several major law firms and Fortune 500 corporations in Houston and Manhattan. Mount Holyoke awarded her an honorary doctor of arts in 2007.