Editor’s Note: Gale Anne Hurd has personally inspired me for a number of reasons. After having followed her career for the majority of my own life, and finding myself looking up to her and women like her – all making the mark on an industry largely dominated by men, Gale has produced some of the my favorite titles. She’s a confident, creative and accomplished woman, who is passionate about what she does – and leaves a mark on those whose path she crosses. It was an honor for me to chat with her recently – and I hope you enjoy the feature as much as I did speaking with her!
Gale Anne Hurd
Title: Executive Producer
After Gale Anne Herd graduated from Stanford University, she joined New World Pictures as executive assistant to Roger Corman, the company president. She worked her way up through various administrative positions and eventually became involved in production. She formed her own production company (Pacific Western Productions) in 1982, and went on to produce a number of box-office hits including The Terminator in 1984, Aliens and The Abyss 1989. With a successful career that has spanned more than 30 years, Hurd has recently brought her talents to shows such as The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, and Amazon Prime’s soon to premiereLore.
However, it’s Gale’s latest film project that connect us with the opportunity to interview her. Mankiller tells the rather incredible story that most haven’t heard – Wilma Mankiller’s story. Wilma is an American legend who overcame rampant sexism and personal challenges to emerge as the Cherokee Nation’s first woman Principal Chief in 1985. It’s an inspiring journey to create change, fight injustice and give a voice to the voiceless.
“I think her story is really important in light of what is going on in our country right now,” Gale commented. “For two reasons really, the first being the divisive nature of politics. She was someone who reached across the aisle, and in fact the other aisle reached across to her, and proved that bipartisanship can succeed. That, in fact, it is the only way to ensure success. She was asked to run as Deputy Chief by Ross Swimmer, who was running for Principal Chief, and he was a very conservative Republican – and she was a very liberal Democrat. When she asked him why he was reaching out to her, he said, “because not only are you best person for the job, you get things done, and I work with people who have a proven track record of success, and I think we’ll work together well.” And they did. So I think that’s lesson one.
“The second is we are in a time when a lot of women were hoping to see Hillary Clinton elected the first woman President of the United States, and to know that a woman successfully navigated those political waters and became the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation – I think it is the kind of story we need to hear. She fought against rampant sexism and many, many difficulties that she had to overcome in her life, and the last time she ran, she was re-elected with 83% of the vote.”
Take a look at the trailer for Mankiller below.
After we spoke with her about the film, we had to also ask her some of the career-based questions that our readers find the most helpful in their own journeys – see what Gale had to say below.
What career advice would you offer to other females who are looking to pursue a career as a producer in Hollywood?
Gale: The first bit of advice I would offer is that regardless of how well you may have done in another career or how well you’ve done in academics – when you start out in any industry – it’s important to learn from the best. You need to find great mentors, and realize that any job is going to contribute to your future – even if you don’t see at the time how it may directly fit in. One of the jobs I had was cleaning toilets in motor homes. I also made coffee on set. I worked in a casting office.
I had Roger Corman as my mentor, and then all of the different aspects of the jobs that I did along the way allowed me to really know what I was doing when I got the opportunity to produce.
Also, I think, is once you have your skill set, make sure you don’t undervalue yourself. I think we continue to find that women make pennies on the dollar to what men do, and I think part of it is because we’re afraid to ask for what we deserve. That even applies to myself.
Is there a woman or women, past or present, that you really look up to and admire that kind of motivate you on a daily basis?
Gale: Well, I was very lucky because, in addition to Roger Corman mentoring me, I was mentored by the late Dawn Steel and Sherry Lansing.
There’s a myth that women don’t help other women, and I’d certainly like to dispel that myth. Some of the greatest opportunities I received in the business were the result of women reaching out and encouraging me.