Office Hours: Hello Sunshine’s Liz Jenkins on How Young Studios Are Disrupting Hollywood

Spencer Rascoff

Spencer Rascoff serves as executive chairman of dot.LA. He is an entrepreneur and company leader who co-founded Zillow, Hotwire, dot.LA, Pacaso and Supernova, and who served as Zillow's CEO for a decade. During Spencer's time as CEO, Zillow won dozens of "best places to work" awards as it grew to over 4,500 employees, $3 billion in revenue, and $10 billion in market capitalization. Prior to Zillow, Spencer co-founded and was VP Corporate Development of Hotwire, which was sold to Expedia for $685 million in 2003. Through his startup studio and venture capital firm, 75 & Sunny, Spencer is an active angel investor in over 100 companies and is incubating several more.

Liz Jenkins, Hello Sunshine
Image courtesy of Liz Jenkins

On this episode of Office Hours, Hello Sunshine Chief Operating Office Liz Jenkins joins the show to talk about how she aims to disrupt the way storytelling is produced, in Hollywood and beyond.


Hello Sunshine is a media brand and content company founded by actress Reese Witherspoon that highlights female authorship and storytelling across all its platforms, putting women and girls at the center of each narrative. Jenkins joined the company as its CFO in 2018, overseeing its finances and growth as a business. She oversees Hello Sunshine's scripted, unscripted content and its kids and animation studios, along with its book club.

Jenkins sees Hello Sunshine as a new media company amid an industry dominated by massive legacy companies, rethinking the way content studios have worked in the past, and changing the way women’s stories are produced within the industry.

“I think one of the things that has taken the industry a long time to catch up with, frankly, the innovation that's been driven by technology companies, has been the fact that these legacy companies have massive legacy businesses – ie. cable networks that generate billions of dollars of cash,” she says. “It’s the innovator’s dilemma, effectively, right?”

By contrast, she says, Hello Sunshine started from “a blank piece of paper” and a mission to bring “content, commerce and community” to a mission-driven storytelling brand.

“When we talk about commerce, we don't just mean selling things to people,” Jenkins adds. “We mean really engaging with the users and our audience on a really deep level.”

Jenkins’ experience in technology and business, as head of strategic ventures for Sony PlayStation, and senior VP of corporate development and strategy at Media Rights Capital, have served her well in her role at Hello Sunshine.

“I do have that really kind of entrepreneurial business and building mindset that one would always say exists in the Bay Area,” she says. “But I think it's very much the same in the entertainment business, right? Every film is a startup, new business, you're bringing together like a couple 100 people who never worked together before–potentially a couple of them have–to build something overnight."

Jenkins also discussed the ways Hollywood has been shifting in recent years to reflect a greater diversity of storytelling and talent both in front of and behind the camera. She says she’s seen progress in the greater efforts to include more women and people of different backgrounds has had an impact on the larger culture.

“We don't have to rewind the clock back very far to see a really different space that we were in,” Jenkin says. “And I think that if anything, the last few years have proven to us that even the most sacred and long-standing institutions are fragile – right? – And require a lot of vigilance to protect.”

Still she sees there’s still a lot of work to be done, especially in creating the kinds of pipelines to attract talent and to sustain the number of decision-makers who will focus on telling more inclusive stories.

“It requires a real commitment to excellence and authenticity,” she says. In order to sustain the kind of changes that have reshaped Hollywood in the past several years, “you can't be complacent.”

Jenkins also talks about how Hello Sunshine chooses the streaming partners it works with on their shows, based in part on their audiences, their interests and the amount of marketing their willing to put into a project. She also talks about how young viewers, readers and listeners are changing the way media is being produced.

Want to hear more episodes? Subscribe to Office Hours on Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart Radio or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA Engagement Fellow Joshua Letona contributed to this post.

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