Hollywood producer of ‘Princess Diaries’ imparts wisdom to UT students

Producer Debra Martin Chase spoke to UT Austin students Jan. 22, 2018 (KXAN Photo)
Producer Debra Martin Chase spoke to UT Austin students Jan. 22, 2018 (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A major Hollywood producer visited Austin this week and stopped by the University of Texas to inspire the next generation.

Debra Martin Chase owns her own production company and produced “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” and “The Cheetah Girls,” among others. She was the first black woman to produce a mainstream studio movie with “The Princess Diaries.”

“I remember those early days of walking in the room and people assuming I was the assistant,” she said. “And so you just forge ahead.”

She said with life in general, it’s important to be prepared when opportunity knocks. It’s especially so in Hollywood.

“There’ve been a lot of pivotal moments where the door cracked open and fortunately I was ready and was able to kind of push it open and walk through.” One of her early jobs was running Denzel Washington’s production company that began as a chance meeting on the studio lot. She always loved films, but originally started out as a lawyer until she took the leap to change her career.

As for her advice to students? She says it’s important to anticipate changes to the industry and prepare for both the present and future, all while keeping grounded in why they started along the path in the first place.

“I think the main thing is just finding the thing you’re passionate about, knowing whatever it is it’s going to be difficult, and just staying the course.”

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