Nina Shaw

Lawyer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In her two-and-a-half-hour interview, Nina Shaw describes growing up in Harlem, New York and attending Barnard College and Columbia Law School, and recalls how she became interested in pursuing a career as an entertainment lawyer. She speaks of her time at O'Melveny & Myers, working with clients Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin of Tandem Productions/T.A.T. Communications, comments on the contributions of Lear and Yorkin to creating the business of syndication, and talks of negotiating talent deals in the 1970s and '80s. She then discusses joining the firm Dern, Mason, Swerdlow & Floum, speaks of negotiating deals for Robert Guillaume, and describes starting a firm with Ernie Del and Mike Rubel. Shaw explains how talent agents, managers, and lawyers work together, outlines what she looks for when negotiating endorsement deals for clients, and speaks of representing clients Ava DuVernay, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Arsenio Hall, and others. She talks of her involvement in The Hollywood Reporter Women In Entertainment Mentorship Program and in the Time's Up movement (she's one of the founding organizers), explains her primary responsibility to her clients, shares the best advice she's ever received, and comments on how she'd like to be remembered. Jenni Matz conducted the interview on May 2, 2018 in Beverly Hills, CA.

"When people get a taste of money and parity, it’s hard to ask them to step back... When people get a whiff of working in a workplace where they don’t have to be concerned for their safety, it’s hard to ask them to go back... When you give people rights, it’s hard to take those rights back."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Nina Shaw on Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin's company, Tandem Productions/T.A.T. Communications, playing a major role in creating the business of syndication
Nina Shaw on negotiating talent deals in the 1970s and '80s and how race and gender affected salaries
NIna Shaw on Ava DuVernay hiring female directors, exclusively, on her series Queen Sugar
Nina Shaw on her involvement with the Time's Up movement and how the group came together
NIna Shaw on her involvement in The Hollywood Reporter Women In Entertainment Mentorship Program and the importance of mentorship
Nina Shaw on her primary responsibility to her clients
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On her early years and influences; on her parents, grandparents, and family history; on her love of reading; on loving Saturday morning television as a child; on wanting to pursue a career in law
On attending Barnard College and Columbia Law School and wanting to pursue transactional law; on her summer internships and early jobs out of law school; on her interest in entertainment law; on Tandem Productions/T.A.T. Communications (Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin's company) being clients at O'Melveny & Myers; on working on contracts during her early years at O'Melveny & Myers and learning about the guilds; on Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin playing a major role in creating the business of syndication
On negotiating talent deals in the 1970s and '80s and how race and gender affected salaries; on joining Dern, Mason, Swerdlow & Floum; on working with Dixon Dern and Ernie Del; on Robert Guillaume becoming her first big client and making deals for him
On a seminal deal at Dern, Mason, Swerdlow & Floum that became the basis for the film Stand and Deliver, and before that, for an episode of American Playhouse; on starting a firm with Ernie Del and Mike Rubel; on the goals of her new firm

Chapter 2

On selecting clientele to represent; on representing minors; on how talent agents, managers, and lawyers work together; on differences between negotiating talent deals for film v. television; on her negotiating style
On responding to changes in the industry - media consolidation, etc.; on negotiating endorsement deals for clients -- as in for Misty Copeland -- and on how the digital world has given people access to talent; on meeting Ava DuVernay and how she became a client; on Ava DuVernay preparing to make her first film, I Will Follow; on negotiating the Netflix deal for Ava DuVernay's film 13th; on Ava DuVernay's series Queen Sugar
On female directors often only being given "one shot to screw up"; on clients moving from film into television; on negotiations for Ta-Nehisi Coates, Lupita Nyong'o, Arsenio Hall, and other clients; on how the legislation that forbids employers from asking about pay history has impacted the industry; on her involvement with the film Red Tails; on her involvement in The Hollywood Reporter Women In Entertainment Mentorship Program

Chapter 3

On what she's learned by being a mentor; on writing an article in Variety about the lack of diversity in the 2017 Oscar nominations; on her involvement with the Time's Up movement and how the group came together; on the major initiatives of the Time's Up movement; on the relationship between the MeToo Tarana Burke movement and Time's Up; on how male allies can help the Time's Up movement; on the staying power of the Time's Up movement and changes she's seen in the industry
On her primary responsibility to her clients; on wanting people to see the law as virtuous; on inclusion riders; on what makes a good entertainment lawyer; on career regrets and her proudest career achievements; on the value of oral history interviews; on the best advice she's received; on how she'd like to be remembered
Shows

13th

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NIna Shaw on negotiating the Netflix deal for Ava DuVernay's film 13th

Academy Awards, The

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Nina Shaw on writing a 2017 article for Variety about the lack of diversity in Oscar nominations

All in the Family

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Nina Shaw on Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin creating the idea of spin-off shows and on navigating the corresponding new legal territory

American Playhouse

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Nina Shaw on a seminal deal at Dern, Mason, Swerdlow & Floum that became the basis for the film Stand and Deliver, and before that, for an episode of American Playhouse

Benson

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Nina Shaw on getting introduced to Robert Guillaume and on him becoming her first big client; on making deals for him

Crown, The

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Nina Shaw on the types of deals that might happen on a show like The Crown, with different actors playing the same character over the course of the show
NIna Shaw on observing, from the outside, the pay discrepancies between Claire Foy and Matt Smith for their work on The Crown

East Side/West Side

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Nina Shaw on what it meant to see Cicely Tyson on East Side/West Side

Facts of Life, The

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Nina Shaw on negotiating talent deals for minors in the 1970s and '80s (on The Facts of Life)

In Living Color

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Nina Shaw on representing Jamie Foxx for about twenty years

Jeffersons, The

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Nina Shaw on Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin creating the idea of spin-off shows and on navigating the corresponding new legal territory

Queen Sugar

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NIna Shaw on Ava DuVernay solely hiring female directors on her series Queen Sugar; on the deal for Queen Sugar
NIna Shaw on Ava DuVernay solely hiring female directors on her series Queen Sugar, contd.

Sanford and Son

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Nina Shaw on Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin pioneering the idea of taking existing formats in other countries, recreating them for American audiences, and navigating the corresponding new legal territory

Sing Along with Mitch

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Nina Shaw on watching Leslie Uggams on Sing Along with Mitch
Topics

Advice

View Topic
NIna Shaw on guidance/cautionary tales she'd offer to clients who rocket to stardom
NIna Shaw on the guidance she gave to a young Latinx mentee just starting her career
Nina Shaw on the best advice she's ever received
Nina Shaw on what she wishes she had known when she started out in her career

Barack Obama

View Topic
Nina Shaw on the timing of the Time's Up movement

Civil Rights Movement

View Topic
Nina Shaw on Robert Guillaume's role as a civil rights advocate

Diversity in Television

View Topic
Nina Shaw on how excited she and other family members would be during her childhood when a Black person would be on television -- memories of seeing Leslie Uggams on Sing Along with Mitch and of Cicely Tyson on East Side/West Side
Nina Shaw on Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin bringing more Black characters to television and on the number of women who worked for Tandem
Nina Shaw on negotiating talent deals in the 1970s and '80s and how race and gender affected salaries
Nina Shaw on joining Dern, Mason, Swerdlow & Floum and on many firms not hiring women at that time
NIna Shaw on female directors often "having to get the one shot to screw up"

First Big Break

View Topic
NIna Shaw on her involvement in The Hollywood Reporter Women In Entertainment Mentorship Program and the importance of mentorship

Historic Events and Social Change

View Topic
Nina Shaw on how excited she and other family members would be during her childhood when a Black person would be on television -- memories of seeing Leslie Uggams on Sing Along with Mitch and of Cicely Tyson on East Side/West Side
Nina Shaw on Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin bringing more Black characters to television and on the number of women who worked for Tandem
Nina Shaw on negotiating talent deals in the 1970s and '80s and how race and gender affected salaries
Nina Shaw on joining Dern, Mason, Swerdlow & Floum and on many firms not hiring women at that time
Nina Shaw on Robert Guillaume's role as a civil rights advocate
NIna Shaw on female directors often "having to get the one shot to screw up"
Nina Shaw on the relationship between the MeToo Tarana Burke movement and Time's Up

MeToo Movement

View Topic
Nina Shaw on the relationship between the MeToo Tarana Burke movement and Time's Up

Media Consolidation

View Topic
NIna Shaw on responding to changes in the industry - media consolidation, etc.

Overcoming Adversity

View Topic
NIna Shaw on her involvement in The Hollywood Reporter Women In Entertainment Mentorship Program and the importance of mentorship

Pivotal Career Moments

View Topic
NIna Shaw on her involvement in The Hollywood Reporter Women In Entertainment Mentorship Program and the importance of mentorship

Television Industry

View Topic
NIna Shaw on responding to changes in the industry - media consolidation, etc.
NIna Shaw on guidance/cautionary tales she'd offer to clients who rocket to stardom
NIna Shaw on the guidance she gave to a young Latinx mentee just starting her career
Nina Shaw on the best advice she's ever received
Nina Shaw on what she wishes she had known when she started out in her career

Television and the Presidency

View Topic
Nina Shaw on the timing of the Time's Up movement

Underrepresented Voices

View Topic
Nina Shaw on how excited she and other family members would be during her childhood when a Black person would be on television -- memories of seeing Leslie Uggams on Sing Along with Mitch and of Cicely Tyson on East Side/West Side
Nina Shaw on Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin bringing more Black characters to television and on the number of women who worked for Tandem
Nina Shaw on negotiating talent deals in the 1970s and '80s and how race and gender affected salaries
NIna Shaw on female directors often "having to get the one shot to screw up"

Women

View Topic
Nina Shaw on Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin bringing more Black characters to television and on the number of women who worked for Tandem
Nina Shaw on negotiating talent deals in the 1970s and '80s and how race and gender affected salaries
Nina Shaw on joining Dern, Mason, Swerdlow & Floum and on many firms not hiring women at that time
NIna Shaw on female directors often "having to get the one shot to screw up"
Professions

Attorney

View Profession
Nina Shaw on important factors for her to secure for a client, and what she was able to negotiate in her American Playhouse deal
Nina Shaw on important factors for her to secure for a client, and what she was able to negotiate in her American Playhouse deal
Nina Shaw on Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin creating the idea of spin-off shows and navigating the corresponding new legal territory
Nina Shaw on her interest in entertainment law and why she chose to work at O'Melveny & Myers in Los Angeles; on there being few African-American lawyers at O'Melveny & Myers when she joined; on working in the entertainment department of O'Melveny & Myers with another African-American lawyer and getting used to there not being many African-American lawyers at that time
Nina Shaw on negotiating talent deals in the 1970s and '80s and how race and gender affected salaries; on negotiating deals for minors
Nina Shaw on starting a firm with Ernie Del and Mike Rubel and on others who wanted to work at the firm; on the firm being a diverse group
Nina Shaw on selecting clientele to represent
Nina Shaw on representing minors
NIna Shaw on how talent agents, managers, and lawyers work together
NIna Shaw on differences between negotiating talent deals for film v. television
NIna Shaw on her negotiating style
NIna Shaw on responding to changes in the industry - media consolidation, etc.
NIna Shaw on negotiating endorsement deals for clients -- as in for Misty Copeland -- and on how the digital world has given people access to talent
NIna Shaw on dealing with infringement of clients' names and likenesses and the impact of right of publicity
NIna Shaw on how the legislation that forbids employers from asking about pay history has impacted the industry
Nina Shaw on her primary responsibility to her clients
Nina Shaw on the formality of attorney/client professional relationships
Nina Shaw on wanting people to see the law as virtuous
Nina Shaw on inclusion riders
Nina Shaw on the diversity at her then-current law firm
Nina Shaw on what makes a good entertainment lawyer
Nina Shaw on what she enjoys about coming to work each day
Nina Shaw on career regrets
Nina Shaw on her proudest career achievements

Representatives

View Profession
Nina Shaw on Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin creating the idea of spin-off shows and navigating the corresponding new legal territory
Nina Shaw on her interest in entertainment law and why she chose to work at O'Melveny & Myers in Los Angeles; on there being few African-American lawyers at O'Melveny & Myers when she joined; on working in the entertainment department of O'Melveny & Myers with another African-American lawyer and getting used to there not being many African-American lawyers at that time
Nina Shaw on negotiating talent deals in the 1970s and '80s and how race and gender affected salaries; on negotiating deals for minors
Nina Shaw on starting a firm with Ernie Del and Mike Rubel and on others who wanted to work at the firm; on the firm being a diverse group
Nina Shaw on selecting clientele to represent
Nina Shaw on representing minors
NIna Shaw on how talent agents, managers, and lawyers work together
NIna Shaw on differences between negotiating talent deals for film v. television
NIna Shaw on her negotiating style
NIna Shaw on responding to changes in the industry - media consolidation, etc.
NIna Shaw on negotiating endorsement deals for clients -- as in for Misty Copeland -- and on how the digital world has given people access to talent
NIna Shaw on dealing with infringement of clients' names and likenesses and the impact of right of publicity
NIna Shaw on how the legislation that forbids employers from asking about pay history has impacted the industry
Nina Shaw on her primary responsibility to her clients
Nina Shaw on the formality of attorney/client professional relationships
Nina Shaw on wanting people to see the law as virtuous
Nina Shaw on inclusion riders
Nina Shaw on the diversity at her then-current law firm
Nina Shaw on what makes a good entertainment lawyer
Nina Shaw on what she enjoys about coming to work each day
Nina Shaw on career regrets
Nina Shaw on her proudest career achievements
Genres

Awards Shows

View Genre
Nina Shaw on writing a 2017 article for Variety about the lack of diversity in Oscar nominations

Classic Anthology Series

View Genre
Nina Shaw on a seminal deal at Dern, Mason, Swerdlow & Floum that became the basis for the film Stand and Deliver, and before that, for an episode of American Playhouse

Comedy Series

View Genre
Nina Shaw on Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin creating the idea of spin-off shows and on navigating the corresponding new legal territory

Drama Series

View Genre
NIna Shaw on Ava DuVernay hiring female directors, exclusively, on her series Queen Sugar; on the deal for Queen Sugar
NIna Shaw on observing, from the outside, the pay discrepancies between Claire Foy and Matt Smith for their work on The Crown
People

Bill Boulware

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NIna Shaw on long-time clients: Bill Boulware

Bernie Brillstein

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Nina Shaw on adoring Bernie Brillstein

Reuben Cannon

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Nina Shaw on the first time she met George Lucas -- when he was preparing to make the film Red Tails

Nick Cannon

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Nina Shaw on representing minors

Ruth E. Carter

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Nina Shaw on costume designer Ruth E. Carter on her experience hiring her team for Black Panther

Ta-Nehisi Coates

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NIna Shaw on negotiations for Ta-Nehisi Coates

Misty Copeland

View Person Page
NIna Shaw on negotiating endorsement deals for clients -- as in for Misty Copeland -- and on how the digital world has given people access to talent

Sammy Davis, Jr.

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Nina Shaw on she and Arsenio Hall both being close to Sammy Davis, Jr.

Ernest Del

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Nina Shaw on her phone interview with attorney Ernest Del when she applied to work at his firm and on knowing that other firms were not hiring African-American attorneys

Dixon Dern

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Nina Shaw on working with attorney Dixon Dern

Ava DuVernay

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Nina Shaw on working with Ava DuVernay
NIna Shaw on meeting Ava DuVernay and how she became a client; on the Urban Beauty Collective
NIna Shaw on Ava DuVernay preparing to make her first film, I Will Follow
NIna Shaw on negotiating the Netflix deal for Ava DuVernay's film 13th
NIna Shaw on Ava DuVernay hiring female directors, exclusively, on her series Queen Sugar; on the deal for Queen Sugar
NIna Shaw on Ava DuVernay hiring female directors, exclusively, on her series Queen Sugar
Nina Shaw on inclusion riders as opposed to the way Ava DuVernay does hiring

Roger Ebert

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NIna Shaw on Roger Ebert's favorable review of Ava DuVernay's film, I Will Follow

America Ferrera

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Nina Shaw on America Ferrera's involvement with the Time's Up movement

Jamie Foxx

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Nina Shaw on representing Jamie Foxx for about twenty years
Nina Shaw on negotiating the deal for Jamie Foxx for the film Ray

Claire Foy

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NIna Shaw on observing, from the outside, the pay discrepancies between Claire Foy and Matt Smith for their work on The Crown

F. Gary Gray

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Nina Shaw on negotiating deals for F. Gary Gray

Robert Guillaume

View Interview Page
Nina Shaw on getting introduced to Robert Guillaume and on him becoming her first big client; on making deals for him

Arsenio Hall

View Person Page
Nina Shaw on representing Arsenio Hall

Alan Horn

View Person Page
Nina Shaw on Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin's company, Tandem Productions/T.A.T. Communications, being a client of O'Melveny & Myers

Charles Floyd Johnson

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Nina Shaw on the first time she met George Lucas -- when he was preparing to make the film Red Tails
Nina Shaw on working with George Lucas and Charles Floyd Johnson to make the film Red Tails

James Earl Jones

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NIna Shaw on long-time clients: James Earl Jones

Quincy Jones

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Nina Shaw on becoming close with Quincy Jones

Norman Lear

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Nina Shaw on Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin's company, Tandem Productions/T.A.T. Communications, being a client of O'Melveny & Myers
Nina Shaw on Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin bringing more Black characters to television and on the number of women who worked for Tandem
Nina Shaw on Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin's company, Tandem Productions/T.A.T. Communications, playing a major role in creating the business of syndication
Nina Shaw on how the skills she learned at her first job at O'Melveny & Myers negotiating for Normal Lear helped her throughout her career

George Lucas

View Person Page
Nina Shaw on the first time she met George Lucas -- when he was preparing to make the film Red Tails
Nina Shaw on working with George Lucas and Charles Floyd Johnson to make the film Red Tails

Lupita Nyong'o

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NIna Shaw on negotiations for Lupita Nyong'o, who had a sudden jump to global fame after 12 Years a Slave

Suzanne de Passe

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Nina Shaw on becoming close with Suzanne de Passe and having gatherings for women of color in the industry at Sammy Davis Jr.'s house

Sidney Poitier

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Nina Shaw on a comment by Sidney Poitier on just wanting to be an actor some days, but having to be both an actor and a civil rights advocate
Nina Shaw on her father becoming Sidney Poitier's chauffeur

Shonda Rhimes

View Person Page
Nina Shaw on the timing and aims of the Time's Up movement

Karen Richardson

View Person Page
Nina Shaw on the timing and aims of the Time's Up movement

Susan Rovner

View Person Page
NIna Shaw on the deal for Ava DuVernay's series Queen Sugar

Marcus Scribner

View Person Page
Nina Shaw on representing minors

Matt Smith

View Person Page
NIna Shaw on observing, from the outside, the pay discrepancies between Claire Foy and Matt Smith for their work on The Crown

Donald L. Taffner, Sr.

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Nina Shaw on working with attorney Dixon Dern, who had recently taken on client Donald L. Taffner (D.L. Taffner)

Tina Tchen

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Nina Shaw on the timing and aims of the Time's Up movement

Cicely Tyson

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Nina Shaw on what it meant to see Cicely Tyson on East Side/West Side

Leslie Uggams

View Interview Page
Nina Shaw on watching Leslie Uggams on Sing Along with Mitch

Lena Waithe

View Person Page
Nina Shaw on representing Lena Waithe

Oprah Winfrey

View Person Page
NIna Shaw on the deal for Ava DuVernay's series Queen Sugar

Bud Yorkin

View Interview Page
Nina Shaw on Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin's company, Tandem Productions/T.A.T. Communications, being a client of O'Melveny & Myers
Nina Shaw on Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin bringing more Black characters to television and on the number of women who worked for Tandem
Nina Shaw on Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin's company, Tandem Productions/T.A.T. Communications, playing a major role in creating the business of syndication

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