By Faith Cummings

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Amber Rasberry Is Pushing For Representation In Every Seat At The Table

The Amazon MGM Studios Senior Exec is sharing her successes, trials and wisdom to leave Hollywood better than she found it. “I want to make sure there’s a lasting legacy in this industry for every role, from the studio exec to the wardrobe designer.”

From Sex and The City to For Colored Girls, Amber Rasberry’s CV reads like your most watched list of series and movies. Growing up with an educator mother that taught and worked with the Black Panthers and a police officer father, the now Amazon MGM Studios Senior Exec grew roots in community care as far back as she could remember. Her love for film bloomed during her earliest years, when she indulged in auteur-driven works and escapist comedies including Trading Places and Stir Crazy alike, based on her parents’ differing cinematic interests. Those formative moments continue to shape the way she approaches film today—character-driven with unforgettable artistic quality while still being entertaining and inspiring. 

Rasberry always knew she wanted to be in entertainment. So after attending University of Southern California (USC) and interning at Jeopardy, Motown Film and TV and with casting director Robi Reed, she was introduced to Hype Williams, and he took her under his wing—introducing her to the intricacies of entertainment and production. Through his tutelage and deal with New Line Cinema, she began to understand the myriad job opportunities within Hollywood, and she started to explore and discover what she truly wanted to do. There, her excitement really started to build through diving into storytelling, script development and the studio process, and she realized the marriage of the business and filmmaking was where her passion lied. 

But after a couple of other roles when her career was really taking off, she realized she really needed to get out of Los Angeles and try something new. “I was feeling a little claustrophobic in LA,” she says. So she took some time off and moved to Spain for a few months to clear her head. Rasberry believes it’s one of the best decisions she’s ever made in her life, though people around her were worried about her career with her decision to temporarily leave the business.

In Spain, Rasberry had the chance to find herself, and she returned to Los Angeles energized knowing what she wanted and how she wanted to define herself. She jumped back into the industry and worked on Rush Hour 3 and Sex and the City with New Line Cinema’s Senior Vice President of Production, Kathy Busby. But when Warner Bros. absorbed New Line, she was laid off with 90% of the workforce. 

So she decided to totally pivot and try out for the Amazing Race with her sister. “We wanted an adventure,” Rasberry says. “I was trying to get over a bad breakup while she was trying to get over a bad job. We both had this time in our lives, and we thought, what are we going to do? We thought Amazing Race would help us forget all our problems and we got really far, into the top 10 and to network interviews.”

Ultimately, Rasberry and her sister weren’t chosen, and they were devastated. But that didn’t last long because literally the day after getting this disappointing news, she got a call from the office of Tyler Perry’s agent, Charles King. And the rest was history, as Rasberry went onto work for Perry’s then new company, 34th Street Films for seven years where she grew so much and was present in rooms with high-powered agents and producers that she would have only dreamt up. There, she learned from Perry about understanding her audience and now, she gets to work with the acclaimed filmmaker and playwright on his deal with Amazon. 

Representation is of the utmost importance to her, so Rasberry is dedicated to sharing her trails, successes and wisdom with those around her. A lot is said about diversity in front of the camera, but she believes it’s just as critical to have representation behind the camera in decision-making and developmental roles like hers because that’s where the hiring decisions are made for directors and filmmakers. So Rasberry wants to leave a lasting legacy for every role, from the studio executive like her to the wardrobe and production designers and every job in between.

I have two nieces who are 10 and 12, so I think a lot about legacy,” she says passionately. “I know I may not be a mother—that may not be in the cards for me and that’s ok. But I think about legacy and what that means without birthing children. For me, that’s leaving behind the lessons and impact of my knowledge, words, presence and the things I have done with my nieces, the people I hire and the folks I mentor along the way so that they may do the same.” 

Rasberry knows firsthand what it takes to make it in Hollywood, so she wants young Black girls and women who have similar hopes to both think about how they want to be known and to hold onto their moral ground and ethics. “Know what your line is because it will be tested constantly,” she says. “You may have to speak up and you may have to walk away from an opportunity, a job, a person or a relationship because it is crossing the line. You don’t want the line to be gray or wavering. You always want to stand strong in it because Hollywood will eat you alive and you need to be able to stand strong, every day.”

Alana Mayo

Head of Orion Pictures

Nicole Brown

President of Tristar Pictures

Niija Kuykendall

Vice President of Film, Netflix

Tara Duncan

President of Onyx Collective