By Victoria Kim

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Nicole Brown Was Destined For Hollywood

Raised just a stone’s throw from her current office as president of TriStar Pictures, Nicole Brown found her happy place in the magic of film.

At TriStar’s helm, Brown has overseen the production of such films as The Woman King and Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody—while staying true to the studio’s mission of delivering epic blockbusters that were made for the theater.

Growing up in Culver City, the same town where TriStar Pictures is headquartered, Brown began acting in TV and film as a child, appearing in Boyz n the Hood and Kids Incorporated. “I grew up obsessed with movies, and stories, and make believe,” Brown said. “I was a child actor so living in that imaginary space and living in characters was my happy place.”

As she got older, Brown was drawn to the work going on behind the scenes. “I got very curious about what was happening on the other side of the camera and tried to figure out my place on the production side,” she said.

Brown—as an undergrad at Columbia University– interned at Miramax Films with plans to attend the Peter Stark Producing Program at USC for graduate school. But the summer before graduate school, she landed an internship with Marc Platt Productions in Los Angeles and changed course.

“I decided to forfeit graduate school to work for Marc who inspired me and became a very important mentor in my life,” Brown said. “I decided to pursue a more apprentice-like film education.”

Throughout her career, Brown made her mark on the industry, working on iconic films like Legally Blonde, the Harold and Kumar franchise, Last Vegas, This Is the End with Seth Rogen, and Evil Dead—to name a few. “I was able to work within and outside of the studio system, take risks and wear many hats,” she said.

Today, Brown runs TriStar Pictures, a Sony label. Her goal is to deliver that wow factor, a theatrical experience that’s worth a trip to the movies. The Hollywood executive is reimagining film in a world alongside streaming content. She believes there is room for both and steers TriStar accordingly. 

From Edgar Wright’s action thriller Baby Driver, to Marielle Heller’s Mr. Rogers tribute A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, to the historical epic The Woman King with Viola Davis—TriStar, with Brown at the helm, is certainly delivering. “Every film is bold and fresh and audacious in its own right,” she said. “Our films run the gamut, but all of them are close to my heart and meaningful. They’re driven by vision and the filmmakers’ singular voice.” 

Leading a major film studio, Brown stays tapped into the culture and draws inspiration from the world around her. “I stay curious and try to immerse myself in the real world and listen for what narratives, what issues, what themes are bubbling,” she said. “Because I think that movies should be relevant to the people who watch them.”

Reflecting on her ascent in the industry to where she is now, Brown agrees that the culture in Hollywood is indeed evolving slowly but surely. “The business has always been challenging when you’re an ‘other.’ But I will say that in the last several years, Hollywood has been called out.”

From her vantage point, Brown is encouraged by what she’s seeing thus far.“ I have witnessed a shift in Hollywood. I think our voice is more valued, there’s more curiosity and interest in what different perspectives bring to the business and bring to the table. But there’s always work to do.”

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