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Andrea Meigs

Talent agent Andrea Nelson Meigs was born on October 30, 1968 in Bellflower, California. Her father, David Nelson Jr., was a principal in the Los Angeles Unified School District; her mother, Dorothy Nelson, a college professor. Meigs spent her early childhood in the Compton area of Los Angeles and attended a private Christian school before entering the public school system in the fifth grade. After graduating from high school in in Palos Verdes, Meigs enrolled in Tufts University and graduated with her B.A. degree in English and Spanish in 1990. While there, she studied at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia as well as the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in Madrid, Spain. Meigs went on to earn her J.D. degree in entertainment law from the Duke University School of Law in Durham, North Carolina in 1994.

In 1994, Meigs was hired to work with Congresswoman Maxine Waters in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office. Meigs joined Creative Artists Agency (CAA) in 1996 as a mailroom clerk where she was promoted to motion picture talent agent. She was then hired as a talent agent at International Creative Management (ICM). Throughout her career, Meigs has worked with major talent in the music, television and film industries including Christina Applegate, Halle Berry, Ellen Burstyn, Beyoncé Knowles, and John Voight, Mark Salling, Cristina Saralegui, and the multi-talented power couple Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil.

Meigs is a member of the State of California Bar Association, the Los Angeles County Bar Association, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. In 2003, she served on the steering committee for the American Black Film Festival. In addition, Black Enterprise magazine recognized Meigs by including her in the 2003 “Hot List” and the 2004 “Brightest under 40” list. She also appeared in Honey magazine as one of the “25 Hottest Women in Entertainment.”

Meigs is married to John V. Meigs, Jr., a partner at the entertainment law firm Home Page for the law firm of Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren & Richman, LLP. They have four daughters: Avery N. Meigs; the late Alexandra N. Meigs; and twins, Isabella Alexa and Calla Alexis Meigs.

Andrea Nelson Meigs was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 18, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.301

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/18/2013

Last Name

Meigs

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Nelson

Occupation
Schools

Duke University

Tufts University

Brethren Christian School

Naples Elementary School

Malaga Cove Intermediate School

Palos Verdes High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Andrea

Birth City, State, Country

Bellflower

HM ID

MEI01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

California

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bora Bora

Favorite Quote

If Given A Lemon, Make Lemonade

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

10/30/1968

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Sushi

Short Description

Media executive Andrea Meigs (1968 - ) was a high-profile talent agent at Creative Artists Agency and International Creative Management, where she represented stars like Idris Elba and Beyonce Knowles Carter.

Employment

ICM Partners

Creative Artists Agency

Los Angeles Unified School District

Los Angeles District Attorney

Office of Congresswoman Maxine Waters

KEET

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Andrea Meigs' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Andrea Meigs lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Andrea Meigs describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Andrea Meigs describes her maternal grandmother's decision to leave the South

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Andrea Meigs describes her mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Andrea Meigs describe her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Andrea Meigs talks about her father's reasons for leaving St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Andrea Meigs describes her father's occupations

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Andrea Meigs describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Andrea Meigs describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Andrea Meigs describes her homes in Compton, California

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Andrea Meigs describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Andrea Meigs talks about her early education

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Andrea Meigs talks about her father's support for his relatives

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Andrea Meigs describes her early experiences of religion

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Andrea Meigs recalls her experiences as a child actor

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Andrea Meigs recalls some of her acting work

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Andrea Meigs talks about her decision to stop acting

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Andrea Meigs remembers her parents' decision to leave Compton, California

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Andrea Meigs recalls an influential elementary school teacher

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Andrea Meigs remembers her aspirations during high school

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Andrea Meigs describes her brother's secondary education

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Andrea Meigs talks about her Spanish language studies

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Andrea Meigs describes her experiences at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Andrea Meigs describes her mentors at Tufts University, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Andrea Meigs describes her mentors at Tufts University, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Andrea Meigs remembers her rejection from law school

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Andrea Meigs talks about returning to Los Angeles, California

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Andrea Meigs remembers the Duke University School of Law in Durham, North Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Andrea Meigs recalls her graduation from the Duke University School of Law

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Andrea Meigs remembers working for Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Andrea Meigs recalls her transition to the entertainment industry

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Andrea Meigs describes the Creative Artists Agency's training program

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Andrea Meigs describes the Creative Artists Agency

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Andrea Meigs recalls what she learned in the mailroom of the Creative Artists Agency

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Andrea Meigs remembers her promotion to assistant agent

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Andrea Meigs reflects upon her experiences as the only black woman at the Creative Artists Agency

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Andrea Meigs talks about the pay structure for talent agents

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Andrea Meigs talks about her mentors at the Creative Artists Agency, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Andrea Meigs talks about her mentors at the Creative Artists Agency, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Andrea Meigs describes her training at the Creative Artists Agency

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Andrea Meigs remembers her promotion to agent at Creative Artists Agency

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Andrea Meigs remembers representing Cedric The Entertainer

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Andrea Meigs talks about her clientele at the Creative Artists Agency

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Andrea Meigs remembers representing the members of Destiny's Child

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Andrea Meigs describes her experiences of pay discrimination at the Creative Artists Agency

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Andrea Meigs recalls leaving the Creative Artists Agency for ICM Partners

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Andrea Meigs reflects upon her departure from the Creative Artists Agency

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Andrea Meigs recalls moving her clientele to ICM Partners

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Andrea Meigs talks about her new clients at ICM Partners

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Andrea Meigs describes her work with Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Andrea Meigs talks about her clientele at ICM Partners

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Andrea Meigs talks about the process of identifying talent

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Andrea Meigs lists the African American talent agents in Hollywood

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Andrea Meigs talks about the experiences of minority talent agents

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Andrea Meigs describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Andrea Meigs reflects upon her life

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Andrea Meigs reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Andrea Meigs describes her family

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Andrea Meigs talks about the challenges of balancing life and work

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Andrea Meigs remembers pledging to the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Andrea Meigs describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Andrea Meigs narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Andrea Meigs narrates her photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

4$2

DATitle
Andrea Meigs talks about returning to Los Angeles, California
Andrea Meigs remembers representing the members of Destiny's Child
Transcript
(Simultaneous) Now is the Houston program [Charles Hamilton Houston Pre-Law Institute] at the Howard law school [Howard University School of Law, Washington, D.C.], or at Georgetown [Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, D.C.] (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) It was at Georgetown. It was Georgetown.$$Okay, all right.$$Yeah, and so I took that for the summer. And at the conclusion of it, which was extremely helpful and enlightening, I was not lifted off the waitlist; I was not taken off the waitlist at Georgetown. And so I stayed, trying to find a job on Capitol Hill [Washington, D.C.], and also considering reapplying to the school. And about, I don't know, September-ish, I got a phone call from my dad [David Nelson, Jr.] who said that the money was not going to be coming in the mail for my rent. And without a job and without being in school, there was one thing left for me to do, and that was to come back home. And I was shocked, because I was like, "What do you mean, you're not going to send money?" Like, I had no concept of what that meant. Like, "You're not going to send money? Well, how am I going to live?" And of course, that was his point, exactly. And he did not send a check. So, (laughter) I had to pack up and come home. And so what I did is, I applied for a job when I got home to L.A. [Los Angeles, California], and I got a job working at Channel 13, which was KCOP [KCOP-TV, Los Angeles, California] at the time. And I, my job was working as a production assistant for two programs. One was, I think it 'L.A. Now.' No, it was called 'Children Now.' It was a children's advocacy program that was nominated for an Emmy [Emmy Award], and it was in conjunction with L.A. Unified [Los Angeles Unified School District]. So it was kind of, actually to be honest it was the perfect job for me because it was entertainment, and yet educational. It was, we would have a different school come to the set every week. So, there would be anywhere from, you know, forty to fifty kids bused to the set; they would fill the audience. And I was in charge of coming up with guest speakers and presentations for them. So, we would have somebody come from the zoo and talk about, you know, caring for animals. Or we might have somebody come from a museum to talk about being a curator. And it was, it was a lot of fun. I'd have to keep the audience going and keep the kids engaged and excited, and interview the hosts. And there was another program that I worked on called 'L.A. Today,' I believe it was called something like that. And that was just a current events show about what was going on in Los Angeles.$$Okay.$$So I did that for a year. And when I was at KCOP I quickly looked around and realized that everybody that seemed to be really influential and really making--being in a position of influence and decision making--they were people who had either gone to law school or they were people who had gone to business school. And at that time I realized I, I need to go back to school. It's time for me to go back to school. So I reapplied, and that's when I got into Duke [Duke University School of Law, Durham, North Carolina].$Before we go there, it seems like an odd time to break this flow up. But--$$Yeah.$$--did you represent Beyonce [Beyonce Knowles Carter] and (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yes.$$--Halle Berry at CAA [Creative Artists Agency]?$$Yes.$$Okay. That one, I think we should talk--talk about first before we--$$Okay, sure.$$--move on.$$Sure, sure, sure.$$But--$$Sure.$$--those were the two biggest stars in the African American community.$$Right. Yeah, well, at the time--again, I--Halle was a client, and I was asked to be part of her team. I didn't sign her, but I was asked to be part of her team. I was involved with--when she got Monster's, the--$$'Monster's Ball.'$$'Monster's Ball,' for which she went on to win an Academy Award [Oscar]. I remember that process very distinctly. And I remember, you know, the feedback when she was auditioning really for it. And clearly the feedback was there was no way she could play this role. She's much, much, too pretty and attractive and, you know, we're looking for somebody that, you know, can really, you know, play it raw and gritty and beat up, you know, average, which she is not. And she really, you know, would accept nothing but, "You've got the job." And they'd gone out to a few people who passed, and ultimately she got the job and it carried her to the Oscars. And I remember that night, you know, so many of my friends on the East Coast calling me and saying, "Congratulations! This is amazing. This is so--." And I remember calling home and my parents [Dorothy Clay Nelson and David Nelson, Jr.] said, "Oh, how was your day?" I said, "Fine." And they said, "Oh, so what did you do today?" I was like, "You know today is the Oscars right?" And they said, "Oh, is that today? Is that today?" I'm like, "My client was nominated and won an Academy Award." And they said, "Oh, that's wonderful, that's wonderful. Now, who is she again?" You know, like my parents, you know, are very simple people, very humble people. They were not caught up in the, you know, celebrity--star struck--of it all. You know, they may have known who Robert De Niro was, or is, but yeah, they did not know. But that was really, really exciting, being part of that. And you know, at the time also, you know, Destiny's Child was coming up, and they were a hot group. And you know, they were kind of just at the heels of Aaliyah, you know, the artist who ended up passing away. And I remember very distinctly meeting with my colleagues who were representing them on the music side. And they said, "Look, you know, at some point they're going to be interested in acting. Are you interested in handling them on the acting side?" I said, "Of course, sure." And I, I started, I sat down with them at the time with their manager, Mathew Knowles. And the plan was after Destiny's Child kind of finished that- their final, you know, their final album and they were going to embark upon solo careers, we were going to start with--we were going to--Michelle [Michelle Williams] was going to work on her gospel album and Kelly was going to--Kelly was going to start working on her acting, and Beyonce was going to work on her solo album as more of a, you know, R and B pop artist. And so, Kelly was the first one up for acting. As it turns out, you remember that song, 'Dilemma,' that she did with Nelly. It got leaked and it hit the airways, and it was the hottest thing. And so, it immediately propelled her. It's like, "Okay, well, you're going to be the first one that's out with your solo album." So, she ended up being the first out on the solo album. And so we kind of shifted gears and then we said, "Okay, well, Beyonce, we'll work on her, you know, right now for her acting." So, she ended up being the first one that we started working with on the acting side. And we got her the MTV movie, 'Carmen: A Hip Hopera,' which she did with Mos Def, and that was the first acting gig. I did her deal on her first major studio movie, 'Austin Powers Goldmember' ['Austin Powers in Goldmember'] for New Line [New Line Cinema]. And then, you know, we just kept building from there, you know. I put Kelly in, Kelly Rowland in a New Line movie, 'Freddy vs. Jason' which did extremely well. And then once Michelle's gospel album was underway, she started acting and we put her into theater. So she did 'Aida' on Broadway, and then went on to do 'The Color Purple,' and has gone on to several other productions, 'Chicago,' and 'Fela!' ['Fela!: A New Musical,' Bill T. Jones and Jim Lewis] and so forth. But, yeah, with Beyonce we went on to do--after 'Austin Powers' we got a big deal to do a movie for Paramount [Paramount Pictures Corporation], 'The Fighting Temptations' which she did with Cuba Gooding [Cuba Gooding, Jr.]. And then 'Dreamgirls' came about, and that was, that was a highlight, definitely, that was definitely a highlight. She got nominated for a Golden Globe [Golden Globe Award] for both the song and for acting. And there was--you know, it was something that she was extremely proud of, and really, really dedicated herself to giving her best performance. She's such a committed and hardworking individual and, you know, all up to this point she had been focused on her music career, both as in the group and then, you know, subsequently with a solo career. And that was the first movie that she really carved out a significant amount of time and, you know, recorded the music and worked with the acting coach, and, and, and really dedicated herself to working on the movie.

Winifred Neisser

Television executive Winifred White Neisser received her B.A. degree with honors from Harvard University’s Radcliffe College in 1974. She received her M.A. degree in Elementary Education from Lesley College. Neisser also completed further graduate work in Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Upon graduation, Neisser was hired at NBC where she headed several major divisions. While there, she served as Vice President of Family Programming, Director of Movies for Television and Vice President of Television Movies, NBC Productions. As vice president of family programming at NBC, Neisser oversaw special programming for children and families, including the award-winning miniseries titled, “Jim Henson’s The Storyteller.” Neisser then joined Sony Pictures Television where she served as Senior Vice President of Movies for Television and Miniseries.

Neisser has served on the board of directors for several academic and non-profit institutes. At Harvard University, Neisser was appointed to the Harvard Board of Overseers as well as the Radcliffe Institute’s Advisory Board. She served as Trustee on the board of the Otis College of Design and The Center for Early Education. Neisser was a member of the Television Academy’s Board of Governors for several years. She also served on the boards of Planned Parenthood and the National Guild of Community Arts Schools.

Neisser’s award-winning projects include “A Raisin in the Sun” for ABC, which was nominated for three Emmy Awards and won the Humanitas Award; “Broken Trail,” a western for AMC, which won four Emmy Awards including “Best Miniseries”; “The Company,” a miniseries about the CIA which won the DGA Award and the WGA Award; “Having Our Stay: The Delaney Sisters First 100 Years,” which won a Christopher Award and a Peabody Award; “The Crossing” for the Arts and Entertainment Channel (A & E), which won the Peabody award; “The Beach Boys: An American Family,” which was nominated for an Emmy Award in the category of Best Miniseries; and “Call me Claus,” a Christmas movie which starred Whoopi Goldberg and featured music by Garth Brooks.

Neisser is married to Ken Neisser. They live in Los Angeles and have two children, Nick and Alexis.

Winifred White Neisser was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 17, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.299

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/17/2013

Last Name

Neisser

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

White

Schools

Radcliffe College

Homestead High School

Emanuel L. Philipp Elementary

Lesley University

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Winifred

Birth City, State, Country

Indianapolis

HM ID

NEI01

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Indiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere

Favorite Quote

Use Common Sense

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

3/23/1953

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Shrimp

Short Description

Television executive Winifred Neisser (1953 - ) served as Vice President of Movies and Miniseries and Vice President of Family Programming for NBC Productions, and went on to become Senior Vice President of Movies for Television and Miniseries for Sony Pictures Television.

Employment

Sony Pictures Television (Columbia Tri-Star Television)

NBC

WMTV

Caribbean School

Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Winifred Neisser's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Winifred Neisser lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Winifred Neisser describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Winifred Neisser describes her maternal grandfather's education

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Winifred Neisser describes her maternal grandparents' move to Indianapolis, Indiana

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Winifred Neisser talks about her maternal family's emphasis on education

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Winifred Neisser describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Winifred Neisser talks about how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Winifred Neisser recalls her parents' decision to move to Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Winifred Neisser describes her parents' personalities

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Winifred Neisser describes her mother's community involvement

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Winifred Neisser lists her siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Winifred Neisser describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Winifred Neisser remembers Emanuel L. Philipp Elementary School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin].

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Winifred Neisser recalls moving to Mequon, Wisconsin, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Winifred Neisser recalls moving to Mequon, Wisconsin, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Winifred Neisser describes her experiences at Homestead High School in Mequon, Wisconsin

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Winifred Neisser describes her academic and extracurricular involvement in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Winifred Neisser describes her early exposure to black media

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Winifred Neisser talks about her early experiences of religion, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Winifred Neisser talks about her early experiences of religion, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Winifred Neisser remembers her college applications

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Winifred Neisser recalls her start at Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Winifred Neisser recalls her start at Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Winifred Neisser describes her experiences at Harvard University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Winifred Neisser describes her extracurricular activities at Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Winifred Neisser remembers hearing Reverend Jesse L. Jackson and Alice Walker speak at Harvard University

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Winifred Neisser talks about the black student movement at Harvard University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Winifred Neisser remembers the influential figures at Harvard University

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Winifred Neisser recalls her graduation from Radcliffe College

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Winifred Neisser remembers teaching at the Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Winifred Neisser remembers teaching at the Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Winifred Neisser remembers moving to Puerto Rico, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Winifred Neisser remembers moving to Puerto Rico, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Winifred Neisser talks about her transition to the broadcast industry

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Winifred Neisser recalls her work at WMTV-TV in Madison, Wisconsin, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Winifred Neisser recalls her work at WMTV-TV in Madison, Wisconsin, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Winifred Neisser remembers moving to Los Angeles, California

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Winifred Neisser recalls working with Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Winifred Neisser describes her work as NBC's vice president of family programming

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Winifred Neisser talks about her collaboration with Jim Henson

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Winifred Neisser recalls her transition to the television movie division of NBC

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Winifred Neisser describes her role in the Danielle Steel movie franchise

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Winifred Neisser describes the changes in the television industry

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Winifred Neisser talks about the regulations on broadcast networks

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Winifred Neisser remembers joining Columbia TriStar Pictures

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Winifred Neisser describes her career at Sony Pictures Entertainment, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Winifred Neisser describes her career at Sony Pictures Entertainment, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Winifred Neisser remembers producing 'Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story'

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Winifred Neisser recalls producing 'Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years'

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Winifred Neisser remembers producing 'Broken Trail'

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Winifred Neisser talks about the importance of stories that resist racial stereotypes

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Winifred Neisser describes her current projects

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Winifred Neisser talks about Amy Biehl, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Winifred Neisser talks about Amy Biehl, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Winifred Neisser describes what she may do in the future

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Winifred Neisser talks about African Americans in broadcast media

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Winifred Neisser describes a story that she likes

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Winifred Neisser describes her advice to aspiring broadcasters

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Winifred Neisser reflects upon her life

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Winifred Neisser reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Winifred Neisser describes her concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Winifred Neisser talks about her family

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Winifred Neisser talks about balancing life and work

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Winifred Neisser describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Winifred Neisser narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

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DAStory

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DATitle
Winifred Neisser recalls moving to Mequon, Wisconsin, pt. 2
Winifred Neisser remembers joining Columbia TriStar Pictures
Transcript
Yeah, so here we were, so we were moving into foreign territory. Now, you know, I was twelve years old and I didn't wanna move anyway 'cause all my friends were back in Milwaukee [Wisconsin]; I had gone to the same school from kindergarten through eighth grade; most of my friends in school were going off the Rufus King [Rufus King High School; Rufus King International High School, Milwaukee, Wisconsin], so I was like, if they can do it why can't I? And my parents [Winifred Parker White and Walter White, Sr.] said well, you're not old enough. You're not old enough to understand why we--why we're making this move, and we promise that we will bring you back to visit your friends in Milwaukee. Now the drive from Milwaukee to Mequon [Wisconsin] is about fifteen minutes, but to me it was like moving to the moon because it was so different. And, and, and I didn't wanna do it, and I didn't even know what my parents were going through because they really kept it--kept it very quiet from, from us. The, the first real inkling that I got that we were moving into hostile territory was when we actually moved into the house, and my mother said to us, "Don't answer the phone," (laughter). And (unclear), "What are you talking about don't answer the phone?" She said, "I'm--until I tell you differently, do not answer the telephone." So--and it was because they were getting all kinds of threatening phone calls from people. So we moved in the middle of the school year--or not in the middle but towards the end of the school year. We mu--we must have moved in March or April, and my mother drove us into Milwaukee everyday so we could continue--so we could finish our school years at Philipps School [Emanuel L. Philipp Elementary School, Milwaukee, Wisconsin]. And, and, and the only reason I bring this up is because, even though there were the neighbors who were hostile and, and nasty, one day towards the end of the school year my mother locked her car keys inside the house just as she was supposed to come and pick us up. And so she, she didn't know what to do in the days before cell phones and all of that. So she went--she went to our next door neighbor, who was actually a Jewish doctor, who was actually very nice, Dr. Finkelstein [ph.]. He wasn't home. So then she went to the next house, and she knocked on the door. And this is a woman she actually didn't know very well, and her name was Mrs. Kenop [ph.]. And she explained her situation to Mrs. Kenop, and Mrs. Kenop said--she--and my--and my mother said, if you could just call my husband and tell him that he needs to go pick up the children, or if you would let me come in and I would, you know, call him. I just need somebody to know that I can't get there. And Mrs. Kenop said, "Take my car," and gave my mother the keys to her car. So I re- I have--I just have this very vivid memory of standing there waiting for my mother and my mother driving up and going, "Where did you get this car?" It wasn't a particularly nice car, but it was--it was not her car. And that was--and that was one of the first signs to the family that things were gonna be okay, that there were--there were really decent people in the neighborhood who were, you know, willing to help us out. And, and, and things did sort of start to turn around a little bit after that.$Your career at NBC basically ends in '95 [1995], is that--?$$ Yeah, basically NBC Productions went through a major restructuring. The people that had hired me and put me in that position were replaced, and they didn't fire me. They actually said, "What would you like to," you know, "would you like to stay on or would you like to leave?" But I realized I was kind of out of sync with this new group that was there, and at this point I had two kids. I had--let's see; this was, like, the end of '94 [1994], so Nick [Nicholas Neisser] was two and Alexis [Alexis Neisser] was four. And I thought: I don't mind taking a little time off here and regrouping and trying to figure out what I wanna do next. So I said--so I came to the end of my time there, and I was really planning on taking time off. And went to a cocktail party for a friend of mine who was an agent, and--I, I can't remember if she was being promoted or something. And I ran into a woman who worked at what was then Columbia TriStar [Columbia TriStar Television] and who had been my--who had sold movies to me. The--basically, when you were at the network, there were certain producers--you were assigned certain producers and they would always bring their projects to you. And this woman and I had worked on a few projects together, and I ran into her at this cocktail party--Helen Verno. And she said, "What are you up to?" Because since I'd been at NBC Productions I hadn't been dealing with, with her anymore because we were now competitors. And I said, "Oh, I'm just leaving NBC Productions," and she said, "Oh, my god, my development person is just leaving. Would you think of--would you consider coming to work for me?" So I was--my leave of absence was I think three weeks before I was back (laughter) working again. And I went to work at what was then Columbia. This was before Sony [Sony Pictures Entertainment] bought the studio.$$Okay, okay, all right, so, so at Columbia, which, which becomes Sony later on--$$ Right.$$Yeah--$$ Now I will say that part of way that I did--part of the reason I took the job was because she said to me--you know, she said, "I don't think I can pay you what NBC was paying you." And I said, "Well, look, I was really planning on taking time off, so if you tell me I can go home every night at six o'clock and, and that you're not going to ask questions if I take off to go on a fieldtrip at my kids' school, and give me, you know, a certain amount of flexibility, then I don't mind working for less money." It wasn't that much less, but it was still less. And she said, "Fine," and so that was--that was my compromise of going back to work.$$Okay, that was a good move for--$$ It was. It, it actually was--it was a great move. And it turned--and you know, and it was just lucky that the studio was ten minutes from my house, so (laughter). Whereas NBC had been like a forty-five minute commute.

Lisa Cortes

Executive producer Lisa Cortes was born in 1965 in Milford, Connecticut. Although she was born in Connecticut, Cortes spent much of her youth on the streets of Harlem. She attended Milford Academy and then enrolled in Yale University where she majored in American Studies. After graduating she went into the music business where she worked with Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin, the founders of Def Jam. Cortes then joined the staff at Mercury Records. While at Mercury Records, she worked with stars such as Vanessa Williams and Brian McKnight. In 1994, Cortes was offered her own label called Loose Cannon. Loose Cannon lasted for two years until it was shut down on October 31, 1996, shortly after Cortes sued Mercury records for sexual and racial discrimination.

After leaving the music industry, Cortes turned her interests to film. She enrolled at the School of Visual Arts in New York and later the New York Film Academy. A producer and close friend, Lee Daniels, was producing Monster’s Ball and Cortes and Daniels together subsequently collaborated on movies such as Woodsman (2004), Shadowboxer (2005), Tennessee (2008), and Precious (2009).

Cortes founded her own company, Cortes Films in 2010. Cortes Films has produced two films Happy Birthday to a Beautiful Woman: a Portrait of My Mother, a film about Mickalene Thomas’ mother and her struggle with aging and kidney disease, and Kwaku Ananse a film about West African fables of Kwaku Ananse and a young woman named, Nyan Koronhwea, attending her estranged father’s funeral while trying to come to terms with her father’s double life.

Heralded as a “disturbing masterwork of human survival” by The Hollywood Reporter,
Precious
won the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. Precious was also nominated for six Academy Awards, winning two; and was praised by publications such as Variety and The New York Times, and garnered multiple Golden Globe nominations.

Accession Number

A2013.188

Sex

Female

Interview Date

7/14/2013

Last Name

Cortes

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Middle Name

Maria Christina

Occupation
Schools

New York Film Academy

Yale University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Lisa

Birth City, State, Country

Milford

HM ID

COR04

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Connecticut

Favorite Vacation Destination

Lamu Island, Kenya

Favorite Quote

Count it all joy.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

12/24/1960

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Sancocho

Short Description

Filmmaker Lisa Cortes (1960 - ) began her career at Def Jam records, and then turned to filmmaking where she produced Precious (2009).

Employment

Cortes Films

K2 Pictures

Lee Daniels Entertainment

Magic Lantern Productions

Loose Cannon

Mercury Records

Def Jam/Rush Recordings

Favorite Color

Green