October 20, 2021

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Agnes Chu Kanda Nast used Disney Savvy to revolutionize entertainment

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On the second Monday in September, just a week before his one-year anniversary as president of Condo Nast Entertainment, Agnes Chu attended her first Met Gala. He walked the red carpet outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Inside, he sat at a table opposite Elon Musk, where he paid tribute to Broadway and Justin Bieber’s “jaw-dropping” live performances. He also had some “Jackie Girl” reactions when he met “Game of Thrones” with Kit Harrington and Rose Leslie.

But beyond the glitz and glamor of celebrity run-ins, Chur’s first met gala carries greater significance. The function is doubled as a litmus test for Condo Nast Entertainment’s new global content strategy, which doesn’t focus on the multimedia forces of the multilevel magazine company – which counts Vogue, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and Wired among its Tiffany brands. Either way they can be reached, through magazines or social media pages, in cinema halls or across streaming platforms.

“Appreciation for such a culture-defined event, but the excitement was really clear,” Chu said. Diversity In a zoom interview after the ride. “You can see from the results.”

And those results were certainly impressive. Vogue’s Met content has garnered more than 320 million worldwide views across all social platforms, with viewers worth more than 54 million minutes. More than 15 million people have hosted the brand’s exclusive livestream, such as Keke Palmer and Ilana Glazer. CNE has also made behind-the-scenes videos of celebrities like Billy Ilish, Blackpink’s Rose and Rape, vice-president of the event. The editor-in-chief and chief content officer of Condo Nast, Matt broke the gala year after year.

The new strategy, Chu explains, equals the company’s unparalleled access to the audience and the company’s unparalleled access to elite events, a plan CNE Super Bowl (including GQ Sports) and Vanity Fair will repeat after the 2022 Academy Awards-Party.

“Transformation was a theme for me this year, and Condo Nast is really going through a significant change,” Chu said.

The longtime Disney executive comes to the one-story magazine company as it redesigns itself in the context of cheap, digital form news and feedback from readers. That immigration snatched the advertising dollars that once flowed into the glossy magazine that published Condo Nast. To continue to be a major force in the media, it has turned to Chute to help expand and create business opportunities.

Condে Nast Entertainment was launched in 2011 and since then it has become a beacon in the digital video space, producing more than 1,000,000 videos for its digital network each year, well over 1 billion views. But movies and television have proved difficult to crack. The company has created award-winning film and TV projects যার including the Netflix sports documentary series “Last Chance You” (based on the 2014 GQ feature); Sony’s “Only the Brave” (based on a 2013 GQ article) and Fox Searchlight’s “The Old Man and the Gun” (based on a 2003 New Yorker short story); And the dossier of 2016 is “First Monday of May”, which centers on the Met Gala – but it still hasn’t really hit. To that end, Chuke has been tasked with transforming CNE into a film and TV business and re-establishing it as a full-fledged production company. Instead of managing the magazine’s articles and features as a rights broker who sells IP to another company to produce, Chu and his team are working with writers and editors across the brand to develop their work into in-house film and TV productions.

“It’s embracing a new business model and helping shepherd a new way of thinking about how we can reach our audience with our content,” he explains. “All these incredible IPs, taking on all the talent – we have the best writers and the best thinkers in the world – and finding a way through it.”

Chu made a parallel note between his work with the launch of Disney Plus, “The Mandalarian” and the driver trying to drive a condo nast. From that experience, he learned that the key to success is to combine print and digital. Another instructive policy came from Kevin Fig, head of Marvel Studios.

“He’s a fan of the world of his character and storytelling, as he is the architect and producer of the great Marvel Cinematic Universe,” he said. “And the mentality was that I’m also farming here at Kanda Nast Entertainment: How are we fans of our brand? How are we meeting our visitors and our fans where are they? And finally, how do we come up with stories that we know fans will absolutely love, but then, how do we create new fans from those stories?

On the front, the company has more than 70 active feature film, documentary and TV projects in development and production. With the arrival of Chu, CNE Greenlit produced “Escape from Spiderhead”, the company’s first New York studio film. Based on a short story by George Saunders, the movie stars Chris Hemsworth, Miles Taylor and Jurney Smollett and will debut on Netflix this fall. Other projects in the works are “The Great Chinese Art Heist” (from GQ and will be directed by John M Chu), Hillsong Church (from Vanity Fair) and a documentary-series (from Wired) about “A People’s History of Black Twitter”.

“Agnes is a quiet force – creative, bright, tactful – a really great collaborator and colleague,” says Wintore. Diversity. “He hit the ground running at Condে Nast Entertainment and in just one year, has created a talented team that is committed to telling stories in innovative ways.”

Since joining CNE, Agnes Chu has hired award-winning producer Helen Estabrook to oversee programming as global head of film and TV. He brought in former Disney colleague Jennifer Jones as head of global business affairs and management and Sarah Amos as VP of development and production for non-fiction TV and documentaries.

They are entering the company at a time of cultural change and are facing their own ethnic reckoning in Condে Nast. “I’m not going to coat it sugar,” Chu said. “We were going through an intense summer with one of our headlines, some of the things that happened at Sister Appetite.”

A social media scandal involving editor-in-chief Adam Rapopart has led not only to his ouster but also to allegations of a toxic workplace and a culture of racial discrimination in Condo Nast. In response, the company performed its first diversification and inclusion report and promised to rebuild its hiring practices to diversify its newsroom.

“I think we were all in a place where we were thinking: ‘How do we want to make an impact? What can we do differently?'” Chu says.

In that spirit, Chur’s senior leadership team is largely made up of women and people of color: “I’m not leaving it up to other people to handle it.”

Company-based, Condo Nast now reports that about 40% of new recruits come from diverse backgrounds and 70% of the executive leadership team are women.

“There are times when I zoom in where it’s completely female. It’s really unusual in my career, ”Chu notes. “Voice on the table translates to projects that are selected.”

Chu himself has felt the impact of diversity. The executive saw the pilot of ABC’s “Fresh of the Boat” and immediately connected to the component.

“It spoke to me very honestly, and it was something I should have been on television to talk about very passionately because it’s the universal nature of being a fish story out of water,” she explains, growing up in an immigrant family – her father. -Mom moved to the United States from Hong Kong – the basis of the ceremony was “I didn’t feel foreign or foreign.”

“Fresh of the Boat” executive producers Nahnachka Khan and Melvin Marr recall the experience so positively that they could even stand for “Champion” while working with “C” Chur in “C-Suite”.

“Agnes is a perfect example of why we need more women of color in executive positions of power,” Khan said. “He’s a true champion of storytelling and storytelling. He believes. Just because something isn’t on the market or hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean it’s not needed. Agnes understands how to make the change we want to see a reality.”

She also worked with Mar Chu on “Duggy Cameloha, MD”, which she Greenlit at Disney Plus.

“On [both shows], Agnes was our champion, ”said Mar. “It really makes sense to put someone like him in a C-suit.”

As important as it was for Chu Stay An associate, he attributed most of his success to having strong supporters during his professional journey.

“I’ve had a lot of benefits in my career who have consistently sponsored me while working for me and over a long period of time,” Chu said, referring specifically to ABC Day-time president Brian Frances and Walt Disney executive chairman Bob Iger. For he served as Chief of Staff for 2013-2016 during his tenure as CEO. “These two are in positions of power who determine what it’s like to be an ally and from whom I’ve learned lifelong leadership.”

Chu added that he “didn’t expect to be lucky enough to experience that alliance again in my career”, but found a true lawyer in Winter – and one who was “iconic and inevitable” to boot.

“Every day I learn from her drive for her creative excellence, her dedication to hard work and results and, above all, how she regularly becomes a new voice champion,” Chu said. “At a meeting of my first leadership team in Condে, he asked for my opinion and set the table for others to listen.”

Like Winter, Chu is focused on passing the mic on to the next generation, sharing that it is their “real desire for change” that makes him the most encouraging.

“It’s something that is contagious and in the best way possible, we keep each of us holding our toes thinking about how we can do better every day,” he said.

For the other women she admires, Chu (who grew up at Harvard Films, who dreamed of becoming a director or cinematographer) points to the first Iranian filmmaker and visual artist, Shirin Neshat, whose work she saw in an art gallery 20 years ago.

“She has impressed me so incredibly about her work that it’s about being a woman that is a collection and its connections, but also through the psychological dimensions of society, politics and everything in between,” Chu said.

Across the pop culture spectrum, Chu has been particularly fascinated by Billy Ilish and Olivia Rodrigo. Elish has been featured in the “Time Capsule” franchise of Condে Nast and Vanity Fair – which kept Elish at bay for four years, when she came of age and became a worldwide celebrity – and Chu worked with Rodrigo on “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series”. ”

“We used‘ High School Musical ’as an opportunity to help express that opportunity to use his voice with his songs,” Chu recalls.

“To see Olivia today, not just with an incredible record, one that has awakened many generations of people around the world,” he continued. “And seeing her use her voice to impress people her age – to talk to President Biden at the White House about vaccination – I really appreciate her being this new voice for both the creative and mission and purpose generations.”

Chu has similarly found his own purpose. Not only does it support projects that will help change the monochromatic media landscape, but she sees her own advancement as an Asian American woman in the top role of a major publisher as a signal to the next generation of artists and writers. The paths they may not consider are actually open to them.

“I think the biggest strength of all of us is actually being our authenticity,” he said. “We all need to see it.”

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