Sheila Nevins, arguably the most important woman in documentary filmmaking, recently decided to step down as president of HBO’s Documentary Films division. After an illustrious career marked by 35 Emmys, 42 Peabody Awards, and 26 Academy Awards — not to mention over 1000 films produced — this move came as a surprise to many. However, you can’t really blame Ms. Nevins for making a change after spending 38 consecutive years in the same position.
But don’t worry — the woman responsible for “Real Sex” and “Taxicab Confessions” is far from retiring, even at 78 years old. In fact, she already has a Sirius radio show in the works and may come out with another book. Her new book might even take off like her first one, “You Don’t Look Your Age…And Other Fairy Tales”. Whatever Ms. Nevins decides to pursue, we have no doubt in our minds that her next venture will be as wildly successful as the rest of her life.
On the surface, Ms. Nevins’ career has been marked with enthralling documentaries — not to mention a progressive attitude towards sex and intimacy. However, her life is much more than just her career. Here are the top five things that you didn’t know about Sheila Nevins:
She Broke Barriers at Yale
If you know anything about Sheila Nevins, you certainly know that she isn’t afraid to break down barriers. What you might not know is that during her enrollment in Yale, she was one of only two women pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in Directing. This program was dominated by males during the late 50s and early 60s during Ms. Nevins’ Yale years.
She Was the First Director of Documentary Programming at HBO
Not only did Sheila Nevins secure the title of Director of Documentary Programming in 1979, she was actually the one responsible for creating it. This is truly a testament to Ms. Nevins’ extensive talent. Not many people can say that they were skilled enough in filmmaking to accomplish that! But what started as a 13-week contract position turned into three amazing years with Ms. Nevins at the helm of the division.
She Had a Direct Hand in International Education
Sheila Nevins’ first job was a program called “Adventures in English”. Directed by Don Mischer, this program featured Ms. Nevins playing the secretary to a professor. The program consisted of lengthy conversations about three English words between the two characters. These recordings were shipped all over the world to help people learn how to speak English.
She Is Co-Owner of the Famous Bantam Cinema
The Bantam Cinema is oldest continuously operated theater in Connecticut. It has a long history, starting with the showing of the silent film “Les MisÃ©rables” in 1927. The Cinema has changed ownership several times, but it wound up in the hands of Sheila Nevins’ husband, Sydney Koch, in 2006. In fact, Ms. Nevins and her husband had been visiting the Cinema for over 30 years. Thus, when the Cinema was on the verge of closing, Nevins and Koch decided to purchase it to preserve this important part of Connecticut history.
She Won the Visionary Leadership Award
Citing Ms. Nevins’ boundary-breaking work as a documentarian and her visionary spirit, the International Festival of Arts and Ideas presented her with the 4th Annual Visionary Leadership Award in 2014. This great honor was further enhanced when Yale granted their famous alumna the prestigious Poynter Fellowship in Journalism during the Benefit Luncheon at the Festival.
Sheila Nevins is a many-faceted woman, with a determination unmatched in the world of entertainment media. Wherever she goes next, we know that she will continue to make waves!