Q&A with Lizzie Friedman ’91, Producer & Partner, Priority Pictures

Major: English / Minor: Communications

What are 2-3 ways your Duke experience helped prepare you for your current career role and/or previous roles?

I have always been driven by story, representation, and history. The scope of work that I was exposed to as an English major helped me identify the types of stories that I wanted to tell as a producer and the many creative ways into stories. Also, the research we were asked to do for our schoolwork taught me how important research is to every project I make.

How did you make the transition from Duke to your career? What are a few helpful takeaways from your first years out of Duke?

I went to acting school in NYC after Duke, which made me realize how brave and vulnerable actors need to be… and that I did not want to do that!

How did you decide what you wanted to do after Duke? And how did you make transition(s) to different fields?

I moved to Los Angeles and got a job as an assistant to a great producer named Stacey Sher, who was Danny Devito’s partner at Jersey Films. Among other things, that taught me that I wanted to be at a smaller company instead of in a corporate environment (like a big film studio).

What is your favorite thing about working in your profession? Most challenging?

I love stories and I love supporting filmmakers. I love being on set and in writer’s rooms with creatives. I meet incredibly inspiring people daily. My job is really simple: I make sure filmmakers and show-runners have everything they need to accomplish their creative goals. The most difficult thing about creating content is that there are so many moving parts creatively, logistically, and financially—it can be hard to pull everything together.

What are 2-3 pieces of advice you would offer to a student interested in your field(s)?

When you first enter the workforce, explore as much as you can—at an agency, on set, assisting writers/directors, and every part of the production process (development, prep, prod, post, marketing, etc.). You may be surprised by what inspires you. Also, the process is very important. It’s really hard to make great content but if the process is meaningful it’s all worth it.

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