Debra Martin Chase knows how to make big things happen. A Harvard Law School graduate and lawyer turned famed Hollywood producer, she is a dynamic example of how to adeptly craft a career and lead for change. As one of the industry’s first African-American female producers to have a deal with a major studio, Debra shares in this episode anecdotes and insights on how she became the name behind some of TV and film’s most popular titles, and how she then uses her influence as a board member and mentor to help women and people of color thrive in the industry and beyond. It’s an episode full of lessons on how to evolve with confidence, move forward with purpose and never give up.  

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Debra Martin Chase 

President and CEO of Martin Chase Productions 

Debra Martin Chase is an entertainment industry icon and trailblazer as the first African American female producer to have a deal at any major studio—EVER.  She is also the first African American woman to produce a film that grossed over $100 million.  To date, her films have grossed over a half billion dollars at the box office. 

Chase’s work has garnered Academy Award, Emmy Award, NAACP Image Award and Peabody Award nominations.  Her company, Martin Chase Productions, currently has an overall deal with Universal Television, a division of the NBCUniversal Television Group and previously had one with The Walt Disney Company from 2001 to 2016.  Prior to that, Chase ran Whitney Houston’s BrownHouse Productions from 1995 to 2000 and Mundy Lane Entertainment, Denzel Washington’s production company, from 1992 to 1995. 

She currently executive produces THE EQUALIZER TV series starring Queen Latifah for Universal Television and CBS that premiered on Super Bowl Sunday 2021 on CBS. Her most recent film via her Martin Chase Productions banner is HARRIET, starring Tony Award winner Cynthia Erivo.  Chase has produced three beloved multi-film franchises—THE PRINCESS DIARIES, THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS and THE CHEETAH GIRLS as well as SPARKLE, JUST WRIGHT, COURAGE UNDER FIRE and THE PREACHER’S WIFE. 

Her television credits include RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN’S CINDERELLA, Lifetime’s MISSING, Disney Channel’s original musical LEMONADE MOUTH, HANK AARON: CHASING THE DREAM, LOVESTRUCK and ZOE EVER AFTER.  

Chase graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude from Mount Holyoke College and the Harvard Law School.  Prior to entering the entertainment industry, Chase practiced law at several major law firms and Fortune 500 companies in New York City and Houston.  

Chase serves on the board of directors for B & G Foods, Inc., the boards of the New York City Ballet and Second Stage Theatre and the advisory boards of the African American Film Critics’ Association and The Mayor’s Fund of New York City and co-chairs the Athena Film Festival.  She is also a member of both The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.