Debra Martin Chase is an Emmy Award, Academy Award, NAACP Image Award and Peabody Award nominated producer whose films have grossed over a half billion dollars at the box office.
An industry trailblazer, Chase is the first African American woman to produce a feature film that grossed over 100 million dollars and the first African American female producer to sign an overall deal with a major studio. Her first deal lasted for 15 years with The Walt Disney Company and currently, she produces projects for Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group, under Martin Chase Productions. Additionally, Chase ran Whitney Houston’s BrownHouse Productions and Denzel Washington’s Mundy Lane Entertainment.
An integral figure in three beloved multi-film franchises, Chase produced “The Princess Diaries,” “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” and “The Cheetah Girls.” These films and their respective sequels launched the careers of Anne Hathaway and Blake Lively, made millions at the box office and created record rating debuts on cable television. Additional feature titles Chase produced include “Sparkle,” “Just Wright,” which won an NAACP Image Award for Best Screenplay, “Courage Under Fire” and the holiday favorite “The Preacher’s Wife.”
Most recently, Chase’s “Harriet” starring Tony Award-winners Cynthia Erivo and Leslie Odom Jr. garnered several NAACP Image Award nominations and earned Erivo an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.
Chase’s television credits include the Emmy Award-winning “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” starring Brandy and Whitney Houston, the drama series “Missing,” the cable musicals “Lemonade Mouth” and “Lovestruck,” the Peabody Award-winning documentary “Hank Aaron: Chasing The Dream” and the sitcom “Zoe Ever After.”
Martin Chase Productions’ partnership with Mattel’s American Girl Company to develop and produce content around its products and merchandise, resulted in five movies that were distributed by Universal Home Entertainment to broadcast and cable networks. “An American Girl: Isabelle” was nominated for a Directors Guild Award for Outstanding Directing – Children’s Programs.
Chase graduated Magna Cum Laude from Mount Holyoke College and Harvard Law School. Additionally, the Phi Beta Kappa holds an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from Mount Holyoke. Chase was a Guest Fellow at Princeton University’s Screenwriting Program as well as a Fellow at the Harvard University iLab. Prior to entering entertainment, Chase practiced law at several major law firms and Fortune 500 companies in New York City and Houston.
An advocate for community service, Chase is a frequent keynote speaker at colleges and universities across the country. She serves on the boards of the New York City Ballet, where she chairs the Diversity and Inclusion Committee and Manhattan’s Second Stage Theatre, where she chairs the Artistic Committee. Also, Chase is on the Advisory Boards of the African American Film Critics’ Association and The Mayor’s Fund of New York City. She is a longtime co-chair of the Athena Film Festival in New York City, one of the largest film festivals in the United States dedicated to films by and about women.
Chase’s numerous accolades include Ebony magazine’s “150 Most Influential African Americans”; Black Enterprise magazine’s “Ten Most Bankable African American Movie Producers in Hollywood,” appearing as the only woman on the list; The Trumpet Award’s “Entertainment Award”; the African American Film Critics Association’s “Ashley Boone Award”; and the “Shot Caller Award” at Black Girls Rock!, the nationally televised award show honoring women of color.
Additionally, Chase was awarded a prestigious Ford Foundation Grant to develop several projects focused upon social justice, diversity and inclusion.
Chase is a member of both The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. She resides in Los Angeles and New York City.