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Women To Watch: Nathalie Harewood of Participant

Women To Watch: Nathalie Harewood of Participant

Nathalie Harewood was born in Orlando, FL and educated in
the SCAD, Savannah College of Arts and Design which was
founded in 1978 but has made great strides in establishing itself as the
University for Creative Careers. The
unique city of Savannah, Georgia is worth a trip in itself.  

While at the university, Lynn Hirshfield of Jeff Skoll’s
Participant Media to speak at her school
and when she mentioned the opportunity to intern there, Nathalie and a friend
of hers jumped at the chance and would
not let Participant say no.  She came on
as an intern and is now in charge of social media for Participant.  

We all know Participant from its great films. They believe that a good story well told can truly make a difference in how one
sees the world. Whether it is a feature film, documentary or other form of
media, Participant exists to tell compelling, entertaining stories that also
create awareness of the real issues that shape our lives. But did you know that
every film comes with a social action agenda? Look at their website in which every film has a
social action campaign.

Nathalie and I met to discuss Participant Panamerica for my
Wednesday blog, LatinoBuzz. But over the course of getting to know each other, we spoke
of many other things, our roots, our aspirations, what we have done so far in
our lives and what we want to do. 

Something came out of our conversation which got me thinking
along new lines:  What role can
“introvert” play in our extraverted media world?  Basically Nathalie has been an introvert all
her life.  She almost did not pass
kindergarten because she never spoke. 
But in the end, her parents prompted her to speak up and her teachers
realized she was bright and had in fact absorbed all the lessons; she just
never gave the signals that demonstrated her intelligent comprehension.  Later, she might have been the object of
bullies’ attention except that she was very tall (and still is) and she had 4
older brothers. 

When we spoke of that, I realized that I too was, and indeed
still am, an introvert.  I often
prefer my own company and inner dialogue to the company of others.  While I can be among others for long periods
of time, I do that out of necessity, as a part of my very extraverted profession. For instance, when an event, such as Cannes or Toronto Film Festival is over, not only I am exhausted, but I cannot wait to be alone, to have time
to myself, to get into my own rhythms again.

She recommended I read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t
Stop Talking”
 by Susan Cain.

And I said, “Quiet?”

She said, “It is a book about introverts.”

As I write this, I also recommend these books because I am
sure there are others reading my blog who would welcome these insights.

In my activities with new talents at Talent Campus or with
Cannes’ Producers Workshop, the subject invariably arises about parties and
their place in the entertainment industry. 
Nathalie and I spoke of how difficult it is for introverts to go to a
party and feel comfortable.  One-on-one
is preferable because one can get to know the other.  I agree with this.  For extroverts the one-on-one might be less
interesting than a party.

We discussed “teaching” introverts how to extrovert
themselves behind the professional persona they develop in dealing with
the world. 

We also spoke of cross-cultural competence, for example, what it
takes to understand other cultures in a different, perhaps deeper way.  Perhaps it is through a process which
introverts understand more than extraverts, because it must take place on a
personal level.  These days as the
independent movie business becomes more internationally tied together through
co-production, a deeper connection across cultures is very important.  Even “Mr. China” himself, Jeffrey Katzenberg,
received coaching in “cross-cultural competence”.

Another example of cross-cultural competence is in the
dialogue or lack of dialogue between independents and the “majors”.  I love Steve Soderbergh’s recent rant on the
studios and on “pitches” to them, where in the middle of the pitch, as if at a
loss for words, one says, “Well, in the end, it is all about hope”. 

It is the “hope” of individuals wanting to make a difference
in the industry, just as it is the “hope” a movie can offer the audience that
brings introverts into the industry, not the hope for fame or riches.

I think idealism is an introvert trait.  Idealism can only live in the mind.  An introvert lives in the mind more than in
the pragmatic world of commerce, and yet, of course, one must be in the world
of commerce to make a movie successful. 
Participant partakes in idealism and also offers a participatory role in
something idealistic.

To return to the reason Nathalie and I were speaking in the
first place:

Participant Panamerica is a brilliant production partnership
with Chile’s Fabula (Gloria, Young and Wild) of the fabulous Larraín
brothers who made No (with Participant) as well as Sebastian Silva’s best films to date (Undertow, The Hidden Face) with Colombia’s Dynamo. They are also partnering with Gael
Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna and Pablo Cruz’s Mexican company, Canana (Who is
Dyani Cristal?
, Sin Nombre, Miss Bala). 
Canana has another brilliant partnership with IM Global forming Mundial for international sales of Latino films. This is an
exciting joining of forces that promises great things to come.  The world of Latin America is coming together
in many fascinating ways, and Jeff Skoll’s Participant has the vision and skill
to bring this particular facet together.

I eagerly await the resulting movies and will do my best to
see them all!

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