As one of Hollywood’s most powerful dealmakers and a founding member of Time’s Up, talent attorney Nina Shaw is steadfast in her mission to bring equality to the entertainment industry. “We’re at a moment in time where we have to choose our sides,” she says. “And I believe I’m on the side that history will look back at and thank profusely. ” Representing some of Tinseltown’s most prominent artists of color, Shaw is clearing a path for those who have historically been underrepresented and overlooked, amplifying the power of their diverse voices along the way.
A founding partner at the firm Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano, Shaw is the negotiator behind such Hollywood heavyweights as Ava DuVernay, Lupita Nyong’o, Misty Copeland, Tracee Ellis Ross, and John Legend, to name a few. The superstar dealmaker grew up in the Bronx against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement, an upbringing that infused her law career with greater purpose, instilling in her an ongoing sense of obligation to advance opportunity for others. “It was very difficult to grow up in that time and not feel a great debt to all of the people who were risking their lives to advance your civil liberties, Shaw explains. “To not feel that you owed a debt to society was to be an anomaly.”
Shaw doesn’t tiptoe around what it takes to broker the big deals she knows her roster of A-list clients deserve. “My default is always reasonableness,” she says. “But if you don’t want to do that with me, I will fight you to the ends of the earth.” The upside of her hard-won battles, Shaw believes, extends far beyond the careers of her clients and translates into a win-win for the industry as a whole. “I’m helping to relieve people of a false narrative, of things they believe that aren’t true, but are much more a function of their lack of exposure and their cultural bias,” she explains. “When I can make someone see that a particular performer is someone who they should value in a certain way and pay in a certain way, I’m able to do so often by explaining why that person’s experience is something that you may not understand, but it is valuable. And if I can make you understand it, I can help you to do a better job.”
Last January, Shaw joined forces with a collection of over 300 power players across the entertainment industry to launch Time’s Up, a movement dedicated to combating sexual harassment and workplace inequality. For Shaw, whose tireless commitment to diversity and equal rights has spanned the entirety of her career?, her involvement in the movement was a natural evolution of her life’s work. “It never occurred to me not be involved,” she says. One year later, the Hollywood-born initiative has now come to encompass and represent all aspects of workplace gender-parity, but the journey toward achieving meaningful progress remains ongoing. Shaw stresses the importance of empowering individuals across race, class and community as being crucial to the organization’s future efforts. “I believe that we will only succeed if we are truly intersectional,” she says. “The voices of other women of color and the voices of people across the gender spectrum and in the queer community are all important voices to be part of this.”
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