Entertainment

Meena Harris’ Phenomenal Gets Into Entertainment Business – The Hollywood Reporter

Phenomenal, the media and merchandising company founded by Meena Harris, is making a move into the entertainment space, hiring former Universal executive Juliet Liu as head of content and entertainment, and Regina Lee as head of development for film & TV.

Phenomenal was founded with a clothing and merchandise line, and subsequently expanded into impact marketing campaigns with the launch of Phenomenal Productions last year.

With its move into entertainment, Phenomenal will continue to focus its lens on content and partnerships that center women and historically excluded communities.

“It is honestly happening much more quickly than we planned, which is very exciting,” Harris tells The Hollywood Reporter.

Harris, who is the niece of Vice President Kamala Harris, added that they are making the move now because they have built a “consumer-facing brand with a loyal, engaged built-in audience that is waiting for the next thing, and has come to be this amazing, vibrant community.”

At Phenomenal, Liu will be tasked with developing the company’s content slate, which will include scripted and unscripted programming across film, TV, podcasts and digital media, as well as its just-launched book club, which counts Nikole Hannah-Jones’ The 1619 Project and its kids’ companion Born On The Water as its first picks.

Phenomenal already has existing partnerships with some entertainment companies as well, with a Recent example being a partnership with Netflix on Bridgerton-themed apparel. 

An attorney by training, Harris launched Phenomenal with apparel bearing slogans like “Phenomenal Woman” (based on Maya Angelou’s poem), and with books like Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea, about her mother and aunt’s childhood. The company at one point also sold apparel bearing slogans related to Harris’ aunt, though Harris and the company have since de-emphasized that personal relationship.

At Universal Filmed Entertainment, Liu oversaw the studio’s creative innovation department, including Universal’s partnership with Epic Games.

“The role that I occupied at Universal really gave me a bird’s eye view of all the rapid disruption that is happening in the media landscape. There are a lot of shifts happening, both in how content is getting created and distributed, and also consumer behavior,” Liu says. “I think that there is a real opportunity on the content creation side to build out a company that is uniquely prepared for that changing landscape.”

Lee, meanwhile, previously led development for Mandy Moore’s Roll with the Punches Productions based at 20th Television before joining Phenomenal earlier this year.

But it will be Phenomenal’s focus on equity and featuring underrepresented voices that Harris and her team hope will differentiate their offerings from other production companies in the marketplace.

“We are going to be bringing that lens in everything we do,” Liu says. “Trying to think about equity along every aspect of the value chain, as it related to Hollywood as an industry, as it relates to who we collaborate with, how we are making films or TV shows, whose voices we are amplifying.”

“It’s the opportunity to build out a media company that has this specific mission in mind that I am really excited about, and I don’t see a lot of it in the landscape at the moment,” she added.

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