By Diane Anderson-Minshall
Originally published on Advocate.com August 20 2014 9:00 AM ET
Megan Ellison, 28
Hollywood loves a good rags-to-riches story, but Megan Ellison — daughter of multibillionaire Oracle cofounder and CEO Larry Ellison — certainly can’t play that card. Does it matter, though, since she's revolutionizing a sagging film industry bent on brainless blockbusters and aging sequels?
In doing so she became the first female producer to earn two Best Picture nominations in a single year (for Her and American Hustle), and her production company, Annapurna Pictures, earned 17 Oscar nominations this year alone.
While her brother David is busy producing action-oriented blockbusters, Megan has put her money and support behind thinky projects and visionary filmmakers including Spike Jonze, Paul Thomas Anderson, the Coen brothers, and Kathryn Bigelow. Actress Jessica Chastain told Time magazine earlier this year that Ellison is a modern version of the Medici family, a benefactor of contemporary film arts in the the way the Medicis supported the artists of the Italian Renaissance.
At just 28, Ellison has produced some of the most renowned movies of the past decade: Zero Dark Thirty, True Grit, The Master, American Hustle. She's making the movies that adults want to see and the movies that incite conversation — even people who haven't seen Her had something to say about the film's depiction of our ever more ubiquitous technology. And the fact that Ellison is proudly bisexual makes that accomplishment all the sweeter.
But Ellison is only rising, and she’s doing so like a classic millennial. She’s amassed more than 72,000 followers on Twitter without ever giving an interview to the media. (She refuses all interview requests, including one from The Advocate.) But her voice has real weight. Most of the time she posts quotes from movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey or from poets and authors (e.e. cummings is a favorite). There are scenes from the set or photos taken after filming is done (earlier this month there were shots of her go-cart racing in Lebanon with director Spike Jonze) but when she speaks in her own voice it has the most impact.
She extols the virtues of Richard Linklater’s groundbreaking film with this tweet: “Boyhood is a wondrous show of epic genius. It's a perfect film. The work of a masterful visionary. Fuck. I think my life just changed.” Later, she posted, “'I'm a woman and I have emotions — I'm sorry if that makes you feel uncomfortable.’ -Me on a recent conference call.”
Imagine a young, butch, out bi woman who cuts a dashing trouser-suited figure during awards season (especially cuddled up to Jennifer Lawrence), loves films deeply, doesn’t care about the media at all, and has all the money in the world to create, as her company’s mission states, “sophisticated, high-quality films that might otherwise be deemed risky by contemporary Hollywood studios.” That’s revolutionary.