REEL WOMEN: Joanna Shaw, a Unicorn in Los Angeles

Editor’s Note: They are leaders. They are inspirational. They are mentors. They are visionaries. They are, quite frankly, badasses. They are our 2020 REEL WOMEN. During Women’s History Month, you will be able to meet these incredible personalities in Advertising, Entertainment, Media and Production. Get ready, they are making “Herstory.”

For over two decades, producer Joanna Shaw has continually been ahead of the curve – a skill she earned over a long career of guiding a wide variety of projects through to completion. She is a prolific purveyor of short-form media and branded content, producing major music videos for world-famous stars like Jay-Z, Christina Aguilera, Michael Bublé, Metallica, Keith Urban and P!nk.

Joanna is similarly no stranger to brand advertising – millions have seen the commercials she produced for Nintendo, Ford, Toyota, NFL, and the NBA, in addition to an iconic Super Bowl ad for Wix featuring Jason Statham and Gal Gadot. Her production skills have also extended to global markets in content for Kayak, Progressive, and Gillette, which were produced overseas, and network campaigns for HBO, NBC, FX, Bravo and TBS.

Joanna and My Chemical Romance

In recent years, Joanna has transitioned to long-form content for traditional and digital studios, having collaborated with Lionsgate and Relativity on features, and Brad Weston’s indie powerhouse Makeready on a variety of projects. Joanna was the executive producer of the Netflix original documentary I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, which premiered at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival, and she co-executive produced Snapchat’s first scripted original series Class of Lies

Having facilitated development of concepts and production with the industry’s biggest names, Shaw will draw on her relationships with major studios, networks and brands to now lead production of her own original shows, feature films, and branded content as Partner at creative collective Unicorns & Unicorns

Let’s meet Joanna.

What Did You Originally Want to be When You Grow Up?  I wanted to be a brain surgeon.

How Did You Get into Advertising? My friend was producing music videos for Hype Williams and Puffy – then Sean Combs – and artists under Bad Boy Entertainment. I was struggling to make my rent in NYC and needed a job.

Who Were Your Mentors? Aside from my friend, Martine, who gave me that job with Hype Williams and Puffy, and my mother and father, my greatest business influences and mentors are producers Cary Woods, Matt Weaver, and Scott Nemes.

I have learned an immense amount from each one of them and I am forever grateful. Good people. I feel like I am supposed to name a woman, but I have to give credit where credit is due.

Name Your Biggest Achievement My daughter.

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Biggest Disappointment I can’t fly? I have to work. I don’t know?

Name Your Biggest Pet Peeves People who don’t let you in when you have your blinker on. WHAT THE F*CK! I need to get over. I’m not trying to cut you off.

Predictions for Advertising over the Next Decade I think I’m going to produce some really cool shit – which was the plan.

Name a Job You Had that Would Surprise People My very first job was sorting Dickies (a.k.a “detachable bottom”) for mail order. My second job was at the chocolate stand in the mall and I pretty much stayed in food service until I started PAing.

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Which Marvel or DC Superhero Do You Get to Play? We’re Judging. I mean, obviously Wonder Woman cuz I have to “play” a woman right? But, I have a 1976 Scout International named Diana so this is dear to me. WW is BAD F*CKING ASS. But, I have been over who I would like to be, in real life, in my head, a billion times so here goes: I love me some Aquaman. I think everyone loves Batman. But, sometimes I think if I had a magic hammer my life would be very different.

Or what if I was injected with super soldier serum? I have rage so I get the Hulk. My husband always says I heal like Wolverine – not into metal claws though. I don’t even like to grow my nails too long. Black Widow – BAD ASS. Hawkeye – totally! Iron Fist – sheya! I love Daredevil but wouldn’t want to be him.

BLACK BOLT – YESSSSS!!!!! Professor X – could def be into mind powers, but that gets dangerous… I could go on but I’m running out of room. This box is too small.

Do You Talk to Yourself? Yes. Duh. (Anyone who says they don’t is lying.)

What do You Wish You had More Time for? Practice piano and guitar. Write.

What Inspires You to be Creative? My friends and family, travel, books I read, articles I read, music I listen to, Muay Thai, stories… I love good stories! Questions about what DC or Marvel superhero I get to play or want to be….. 

Follow Joanna:

Instagram: @joannashaw