Mosaic Woman Trailblazer
SVP, Fox Searchlight Films
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Ms. Zola Mashariki is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School. She is currently Senior Vice President of Production at Fox Searchlight Pictures in Los Angeles, California.
Zola began her tenure at Fox Searchlight in May 2000 as a production intern and has been Senior Vice President since 2008. She has worked on a number of feature films, including John Madden’s THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (nominated for 2 Golden Globe® awards), David E. Talbert’s BAGGAGE CLAIM, Kasi Lemmons’ BLACK NATIVITY, Sean Durkin’s MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE, Mike Cahill’s ANOTHER EARTH, Mark Romanek’s NEVER LET ME GO, Sanaa Hamri’s JUST WRIGHT, Rick Famuyiwa’s OUR FAMILY WEDDING, George Tillman’s NOTORIOUS, Gina Prince-Bythewood’s THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES, Tamara Jenkins’ THE SAVAGES, Mira Nair’s THE NAMESAKE, Pieter Jan Brugge’s THE CLEARING, Jim Sheridan’s IN AMERICA, James Ivory’s LE DIVORCE, Richard Linklater’s FAST FOOD NATION, and Denzel Washington’s ANTWONE FISHER. Most recently, Zola has been working on the sequel to John Madden’s THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL, Thomas Vinterberg’s remake of FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD and Mira Nair’s BENGALI DETECTIVE.
At Dartmouth, Ms. Mashariki was President of the Pi Theta chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and President of the Afro-American Society (the AAm). She won the Eleanor Frost Playwriting Competition, the Dodd Playwriting Prize, and was artistic director of the Black Underground Theatre and Arts Association. Zola was also selected as a Mellon Fellow, Rockefeller Fellow and “tapped” for membership in the elite Casque & Gauntlet and Paleopitus senior honor societies. Upon graduation, she was awarded the medal for “Outstanding Woman in the Senior Class.”
At Harvard, Ms. Mashariki worked as research assistant to the late Judge A. Leon Higginbotham and was a Teaching Fellow in Harvard College’s Afro-American Studies department with Professor Cornel West. She also was a Teaching Fellow at both Harvard Law School and Harvard Divinity School.
After law school, Mashariki practiced corporate law at Proskauer Rose LLP in New York and Manatt, Phelps and Phillips LLP in Los Angeles, focusing on mergers and acquisitions and secured transactions. She also worked with the late playwright August Wilson, co-founding the African Grove Institute for the Arts (AGIA), the first national black theatre organization.
In 1999, Mashariki’s essay was published in the book, “Miraculously Builded in our Hearts,” edited by Lathem and Shribman. That year, she moved to Los Angeles to attend the Peter Stark Producing Program at the University of Southern California, where she produced her first short film in Cameroon, West Africa.
In 2004, she founded the American Black Film Festival Filmmaker Workshop 101 sponsored by Fox Searchlight Pictures, an annual event designed to teach young filmmakers about writing, producing and directing feature films.
In 2010, she joined the faculty of the University of Southern California in the Cinematic Arts Department where she teaches “Advanced Producing” to graduate students seeking a Masters in Fine Arts (Production).
Zola is committed to public service. She supports and volunteers with many organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, Salvation Army, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, American Cancer Society, and Keep a Child Alive. She continues to use her legal training, most recently as a poll monitor during the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. Ms. Mashariki has also served on the jury for several film festivals, including the American Black Film Festival, Hollywood Black Film Festival and Urbanworld. In addition, she has been a judge for the Final Draft Screenwriting Contest and a mentor in IFP’s ProjectInvolve program.
Ms. Mashariki graced the cover of Black Enterprise’s January 2004 issue and was featured in the article, “Profiles in Courage.” She has also been profiled several times in the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine and SAVOY magazine. In 2006, Mashariki was honored to be selected as one of 25 people featured on the cover and in the special issue of The Hollywood Reporter as “Hollywood’s Next Generation.” She also received NABFEME’s “Dreamgirl Award” in 2007. She was selected for inclusion in Essence magazine’s March 2009 list of most powerful African-Americans in Hollywood. In 2011, she was featured in The Dartmouth magazine’s five part series profiling successful alumni in film. In 2012, she was also profiled in Black Enterprise’s 40 Under 40: The Next Generation of Women of Power. That year, she was honored by the Black Women Lawyers Association and recipient of their Leadership Award. She was also profiled in Jet’s magazine’s May 2012 issue “She’s the Boss.” In 2013, at Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Ms. Mashariki received, along with Tyler Perry, the prestigious “Impact Award’ during the DST Centennial Convention.
Zola Mashariki is an avid swimmer and holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. She has a passion for telling great stories, working with talented filmmakers and mentoring/opening doors for others to succeed. She is deeply committed to her work and looks forward to many more years impacting Hollywood.