Cathy Schulman

Best Picture Academy Award® winning producer and president emerita of Women in Film

Keynote Presentation

Schulman will focus on how producers and studios are combatting gender discrimination by building pathways, pipelines, and economic opportunities for females across the industry. 

About Cathy Schulman

Cathy Schulman

Best Picture Academy Award winning producer Cathy Schulman began her career in the movie industry in 1987 and has been a producer and film executive ever since. She is currently the president and CEO of Welle Entertainment, the first independent female-facing film and television production and finance company in Hollywood. In its first year, Welle completed production on two feature films and sold over 15 films and shows to major motion picture studios, networks, and streamers. Five Feet Apart, which is scheduled for wide theatrical release by CBS film in March 2019, is a young-adult love story directed by Justin Baldoni and starring Cole Sprouse (Riverdale) and Haley Lu Richardson (The Edge of Seventeen, Split, Columbus). Otherhood, adapted and directed by Cindy Chupack (Sex in the City, I’m Dying up Here), is a dramedy about women’s lives in the middle zone—between parenting and grandparenting. The film stars Angela Bassett, Patricia Arquette, and Felicity Huffman and will be Netflix’s Mother’s Day 2019 release. Also scheduled for production at Tri-Star Pictures is the epic African female warrior tale called The Woman King, starring Viola Davis and Lupita Nyong’o. Welle Entertainment, in keeping with Schulman’s brand, acquires numerous intellectual properties and is currently developing literary works including best-seller The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine; Alpha Girls, the highly anticipated upcoming book by best-selling author Julian Guthrie (How to Make a Spaceship); The Trials of Nina McCall by Scott Wasserman Stern, which recently received a glowing review on the cover of TheNew York Times Book Review; and Lucy Thurber’s hit Public Theater play Transfers. Television shows in development include Warners/Showtime’s remake of Memory of a Killer, with Martin Campbell directing, and Lionsgate/Showtime’s First Ladies, starring Viola Davis. 

Before founding Welle, Schulman served as the head of production for STX Entertainment. She managed the studio’s annual 12-picture slate, including the 2016 summer blockbuster Bad Moms, which earned $184 million worldwide. The film was written and directed by The Hangover’s Jon Lucas and Scott Moore and stars Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Christina Applegate, and Kathryn Hahn. Schulman also executive produced, alongside Jim Brooks, the critical darling Edge of Seventeen, written and directed by Kelly Fremon Craig and starring Hailee Steinfeld and Woody Harrelson. In the months between STX and the founding of Welle Entertainment, Schulman produced The Foreigner, directed by Martin Campbell and starring Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan, which grossed over $80 million in China alone. 

Prior to STX, Schulman was president of Mandalay Pictures, where she produced Horns, directed by Alex Aja, starring Daniel Radcliffe, and based on Joe Hill’s best-selling novel; Marjane Satrapi’s Voices, starring Ryan Reynolds and Anna Kendrick; Dark Places, based on Gillian Flynn’s best-selling novel and starring Charlize Theron, Chloe Moretz, and Nicholas Hoult; Bernie, directed by Richard Linklater and starring Jack Black and Matthew McConaughey; and Mandalay’s faith-based hit Soul Surfer, starring Dennis Quaid, Helen Hunt, and AnnaSophia Robb. Mandalay’s The Kids Are All Right, directed by Lisa Cholodenko and starring Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, and Mark Ruffalo, was nominated for an Academy Award in 2011.

Previous to Mandalay and under her own Bull’s Eye Entertainment banner, Schulman produced Crash, directed by Paul Haggis and starring Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, and Terrence Howard. Released in 2005 by Lionsgate, Crash collected numerous awards and nominations, including the Grand Prize at the 2005 Deauville International Film Festival, Best Feature Film at the 2005 Black Movie Awards, Best Ensemble at the 2006 Screen Actors Guild Awards, Best Feature Film at the NAACP Image Awards, and Best Screenplay at the 2006 WGA Awards. In addition to Schulman receiving the film’s Best Picture Oscar in 2006, Crash received Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay and Best Editing. 

Schulman has also produced numerous distinguished films, including The Illusionist, written and directed by Neil Burger and starring Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, and Jessica Biel; world-famous graphic designer Mike Mills’s first film Thumbsucker, which garnered Best Actor Awards at Sundance and Berlin, as well as the Guardian Award for Best Director at the Edinburgh International Film Festival; Edward Burns’s Sidewalks of New York; and Antoine Fuqua’s Tears of the Sun, starring Bruce Willis. 

From 1997 to 2000, Schulman served as president of Artists Production Group (APG), where she supervised over 50 projects, including developing and securing financing for Martin Scorsese’s epic drama Gangs of New York. She also served as head of production for a joint venture formed between APG and media giant Studio Canal. 

Other positions Schulman has held throughout her career include vice president of production and acquisitions at Sovereign Pictures, where she served as an executive on a slate of films that included My Left Foot and Reversal of Fortune; vice president of production and acquisitions at the Samuel Goldwyn Company, where she was the executive on films such as Much Ado about Nothing and The Madness of King George; senior vice president of production at Savoy Pictures, where she acquired and developed American History X; and president of Lobell/Bergman Productions at Universal Pictures.

Schulman was codirector of programming at the Sundance Film Festival for three years during the festival’s formative period in the late ’80s and early ’90s, also playing a key role in designing the annual Sundance Producers Conference. She discovered and programmed the first films of directors David O. Russell, Paul Thomas Anderson, Robert Rodriguez, and many more.

Schulman, who has been a consistent advocate of worldwide social causes as well as closer-to-home industry needs, also produced the Warner Bros. documentary Darfur Now, featuring George Clooney and Don Cheadle, with music by Bono and Stevie Wonder.

Active in the industry, Schulman was the president of Women in Film from 2010 to 2018, and she is currently the chair of Women in Film’s advisory council. As the top spokesperson for gender parity issues in media, Schulman designed the multiyear research and awareness campaign that introduced the USC Annenberg School’s gender data and unconscious bias training to Hollywood. She also coauthored ReFrame, the systemic change project designed for studios, networks, and talent agencies. As a leading voice in Hollywood’s recent harassment crisis, Schulman was quick to lead Women in Film’s activation by providing a safe-haven help line and legal relief program for victims. 

Schulman is a decade-long board member of Film Independent and has served as a council member of the Producers Guild of America. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a USC Peter Stark Producing Program mentor, and has taught graduate-level film producing at UCLA and the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at Chapman University, where she was awarded an honorary doctorate. She has also served as a judge for the prestigious Samuel Goldwyn Writing Awards. 

She is a notable voice in the Hollywood community who recently gave closing remarks at the “Take Back the Workplace” rally in Los Angeles and also gave the 2016 media address for International Woman’s Day at the United Nations. 

Schulman is a graduate of Yale University with a double major in theater studies and history of art. She is the mother of one daughter and resides in Los Angeles, California.