Editor’s Note: Five years ago we had an idea. Being a woman-owned publication, it made sense to celebrate women who were making a difference in the industries we cover. So, we started a feature for Women’s History Month called “Reel Women.” Over the last four years, we have gotten to know leaders, mentors and visionaries from a variety of creative industries. This is our 5th Annual REEL WOMEN. For the month of March, let us introduce you to some very special women like Cinespace Studios Chicago Head of Client Services & Studio Operations, Jane Williamson.
Jane Williamson recently joined Cinespace Studios Chicago as the Head of Client Services & Studio Operations and is responsible for managing all day-to-day studio operations, business development, and client relations. Jane rose through the ranks of commercial, non-scripted, and scripted TV production starting as a Production Assistant, and was most recently Production Supervisor on Season 2 of Lionsgate TV’s Power Book IV: Force and Legendary Entertainment’s Night Sky. She was also a Transmedia Producer on Empire (S3-6) and an Associate Producer on Kitchen Crashers (S3-9). Jane is a native Chicagoan currently residing in Wicker Park with her husband, daughter, son, and two cats Katie and Seymour.
Let’s meet Jane.
What’s your origin story?
Two years before I was born, my family came to the United States as refugees from the former Soviet Union, specifically Ukraine. My mom watched a lot of classic movies to improve her English and I grew up watching just about every movie made before 1965 and fell in love with storytelling through film.
I was raised in the suburbs of Chicago and when I was in 6th grade, I did a project – which my mom still has – on the life of Steven Spielberg. I knew I wanted to follow in his footsteps and make movies and was fortunate to go to schools that offered opportunities to learn about tv production, film, and the arts in general, which fueled my dream. From a young age, once I put my mind to something, I follow through!
How did you get into Film and TV industry?
I remember calling the film office job hotline every day during the spring of my senior year of high school hoping to find a summer job after graduation. I finally found an unpaid internship on an indie feature. The long hours and late call times were a huge shock to my system, and I spent most of my time on set handing out water to the cast and holding a towel for one of the actors to dry his sweat between takes. It was unglamorous and exhausting, and yet, I loved every second!
From there, I hopped job to job as I expanded my network and eventually worked my way up the ladder. I also took some time away to pursue other endeavors and to grow my family, but I ultimately made my way back to TV production.
I recently switched gears and joined Cinespace Studios Chicago as Head of Client Services & Studio Operations and I’m thrilled to use my production knowledge to help our industry grow in Chicago.
While there will be others, what do you consider your biggest achievement to date?
In my personal life, my kids are my greatest achievement. In my professional life, I produced a short film with my friend Stacey Nuzbach for the Make-A-Wish Foundation about a young boy dealing with a rare cancer diagnosis. It was such a rewarding experience that brought together hundreds of Chicago film industry professionals whom all helped out of the goodness of their hearts. It reminded me that most people are good and care about their fellow humans. It’s an important reminder these days.
Award you crave, but haven’t won?
I never got the “perfect attendance” award when I was in school. It’s probably too late now.
Coffee, Lunch or Happy Hour. Name a famous woman (living or dead) you would like to attend each function with.
Lunch: Michelle Obama
Happy Hour: Alice Roosevelt
What keeps you up at night?
The cost of college, never-ending house repairs on our historic worker’s cottage, but mostly my cats (Katie and Seymour) who like to lay right on me when I try to sleep.
What’s up with Beyoncé being nominated for 4 Best Albums of the year but never winning?
Beyonce is amazing whether she gets a gold statue or not. She doesn’t need to win to know that. We can all use that as a reminder – be proud of who you are. You don’t need validation from anyone else.
ALSO READ: MORE REEL WOMEN
ALSO READ: REEL 360 — REEL WOMEN
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