Meet Turner’s Trailblazing Women

During the month of October, Turner Classic Movies is celebrating the “Trailblazing Women” of the film industry to bring to light their often-underrated impact (past, present and future) on cinematic storytelling. We’re following TCM’s lead to introduce some of our very own Trailblazing Women at Turner. All month long, you’ll get an inside look at women who are leading the charge to success throughout our company.

In the first of four installments, we get to know a few of the super-talented women behind the production of TCM’s Trailblazing Women who share with us who and what has inspired them to do what they love: Anne Wilson, director, Studio Production, TCM & FilmStruck; Courtney O’Brien, writer/producer, Studio Production, TCM & FilmStruck; Grace Barker, entertainment production coordinator, Turner Studios; and Jamie Miningham, entertainment production manager, Turner Studios.  

Let’s hear about your own careers – how did you get to Turner?

Jamie Miningham: I spent 18 years working in Los Angeles in film and commercial production. My husband is a director/AD, and we decided to move our family to Atlanta about a year ago. We love it!

Courtney O’Brien: I have always loved movies, especially classic movies, thanks to my Dad. I’ve been a TCM fan for as long as I can remember. When I applied to grad school for film studies, I started my personal statement with a quote from Robert Osborne. By an incredible stroke of luck, which resulted from being in the right place at the right time and having what I thought was just a regular, everyday conversation, I landed a summer internship with TCM Studio Production. A few months after I returned to school, the production assistant I had shadowed at TCM moved to LA. My grad school advisor and I worked out a schedule so that I could move to Atlanta to work as a P.A. for TCM and still finish my masters. TCM hasn’t been able to get rid of me since.

Grace Barker: I graduated last May from Berry College and then started as an intern in the production operations department. I segued into a t3 position (Turner intern), and I was recently promoted to production coordinator for entertainment in Turner Studios.

Anne Wilson: I moved to LA after graduating college and got an internship on an MTV show called The Big Picture. That led to an internship at CNN in Atlanta and, then, to TCM. I’ve worked in this department for more than two decades, but each year brings new and exciting challenges. Every day is different.

Who was one of your biggest supporters along the way?

Grace Barker: My father always taught me that I can do whatever I put my mind to. He is my biggest supporter by far. He taught me how to be kind, but strong. Most importantly, he taught me that a sense of humor is always appropriate.

Jamie Miningham: I worked at New Line Cinema for years and had a chance to see Fran Walsh in action. She’s an amazing screenwriter/producer (Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit). I saw firsthand how she balanced her personal life and creative ambition; it was inspiring!

Courtney O’Brien: I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have a mob of supporters along the way. From my parents to my husband, from professors to colleagues – so many people have encouraged me on my path to where I am. Collectively, they’ve taught me not to be afraid to speak up for myself. But I have to say a big thank you to Robert Osborne. He was a mentor and friend to all of us TCM’ers. Whenever I was around Robert, I learned something new. He had a knowledge of classic Hollywood unlike anyone else and was an amazing storyteller. He made learning about movies fun. Getting to work with him was an absolute honor.

Anne Wilson: My supervisor, Sean Cameron (VP, Studio Production, TCM). He has always fought for me and given me the freedom to do my job. And I learned that your boss can also be your good friend.

When you were young, did you envision yourself in this line of work?

Jamie Miningham: I was a dance major in college and briefly worked in that field after school. Other than production, dance and theater would be my thing.

Grace Barker: When I was young, my aspirations went as far as becoming a waitress. As I got older, I wanted to be an elementary school teacher. On my second day of working at a preschool in college, I realized that being a teacher was not for me. I always loved film and television, so I dove in head first to our communications department and majored in film, which finally brought me to Turner.

Anne Wilson: I have always loved movies and knew I wanted to work in the entertainment industry. I still pinch myself when I think that my job involves watching and talking about movies ALL DAY LONG. Amazing!

Courtney O’Brien: Like any little kid, I wanted to be a doctor. As I got older, I wanted to be an archaeologist, then a marine biologist. It wasn’t until college that I realized I could have a career that involved my love of movies. I toyed with the idea of going for a film production degree, but quickly realized my interest was in the history of Hollywood. With TCM, I get the best of both worlds – I get to use my film history education in a production setting.

Having interviewed and learned more about all of the women you’re featuring, which of them inspired you the most?

Anne Wilson: I loved Maryann Brandon, the editor on films like The Force Awakens and the latest Star Trek franchise. She proves that a woman can deftly shape the storytelling of billion-dollar action films. And she was also a lovely person.

Courtney O’Brien: I have a lot of admiration for film editors and was thrilled that Maryann Brandon and Lynzee Klingman are part of this year’s celebration. Editing is an invisible art, and I don’t think these women get enough recognition for what they do. I also have to highlight our amazing host, Illeana Douglas. Her passion and knowledge for this project inspires me each year. She is the consummate host and makes my job thoroughly enjoyable. 

How does it feel to know that other women can be inspired by what you’ve accomplished to drive themselves toward greater success?

Jamie Miningham: I have a 3-year-old daughter, so I’m very aware how professional women are perceived. I hope I can show her how to work hard, listen to her female instincts and be kind to others.

Courtney O’Brien: It’s humbling. One word of advice I always give to people is to talk to everyone. You never know where one conversation may lead you.

Grace Barker: Considering the fact that I am only 23, it’s crazy to think of people being inspired by me. I am inspired by all of the women I work with daily. I hope one day I can be that for someone else.

 

Watch Trailblazing Women: The Women That Crafted The Stories, hosted by TCM’s Ileana Douglas every Monday night in October starting at 8 p.m. ET on TCM.