Category: GEMA, GEMA Alumni Spotlight

Title:GEMA Alumni Spotlight – Celia Duffy (C’06), Vice President of Global Scripted Development & Programming at Sony Pictures Entertainment

Celia Duffy works with Sony’s owned and joint venture production companies around the world on TV Series for the US and Global markets. Additionally, she develops original series for international and worldwide audiences.

What was your first “big break”? Or, what is the most significant experience you have had that has made your success possible?

Working as an assistant at Creative Artists Agency put me on my path in entertainment. It gave me a complete overview of the landscape of television and was my introduction to international tv as well. I’ve worked with many of my former colleagues since then, and some of my closest friendships started at CAA. Overall, it was a great foundation and definitely set me up for success down the road.

What is the most challenging part of your job? What is the most rewarding part?

One of the most challenging parts of my job is managing expectations, particularly across different international markets. The world is getting smaller every day, but budgets and production plans are still very specific to individual countries. When someone hears my accent, they may assume there is American money coming, despite the show being designed for another audience and marketplace with lower budgets.

The most rewarding part of my job is meeting creatives from around the world and learning their individual stories and experiences.

What is something current you are working on that you are excited about?

I love our project THE DAHOMEY WARRIORS. It’s an imaginative, epic story grounded in West African history, but universally accessible. These amazing and powerful women really existed, and we’ll see their world through the eyes of a young girl who enlists. I love the romance, the action, and the way that the story is relatable for anyone who has dreamed of being a part of something bigger than themselves. It’s a perfect example of the stories I want to tell — authentic to a time and place, but easy for anyone around the world to connect to.

How is the ever-changing media landscape affecting your industry?

The rise of worldwide streamers has led to more people watching shows from other cultures. For years, the world was bombarded by American television, but now (slowly) more Americans are watching shows from other parts of the world.

Are there any ways that you feel Georgetown especially prepared you for your career?

I was an English major at Georgetown, but because of the emphasis on a broad liberal arts education, I studied political systems, philosophy, and history. All of this has paid dividends for someone who works with storytellers from around the world. I also found that I was surrounded by curious people who cared about world events, and I was able to foster that interest.

What is your best advice to those who are starting out in your field?

Make sure you have friendships outside of the entertainment industry. Otherwise, your world will feel very small. There will be disappointing days and having non-tv outlets will be necessary.

Best Business Advice Received:

Work for and with good people.

Trait You Most Admire in People:

I admire people who will speak up and address problems head on. It’s very easy to do the go-along-to-get-along thing, but it’s always more frustrating (and in our world, expensive) to deal with issues at a later stage.

Favorite App, Website, Podcast or Social Platform (other than related to your own company):

Two podcasts I love — THE WORLD (Public Radio International) and MAINTENANCE PHASE.

Favorite Georgetown Professor:

Christine So – English

Favorite Georgetown Restaurant or Bar:

Clyde’s of Georgetown

Favorite Georgetown Memory:

Rushing the court in January 2006 after the win over Duke!