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Perfect Pitch: Naomi McDougall Jones

Founder, Dancer, Actress, Singer



Current City: Hailey, Idaho

Current Job and Entrepreneurial Focus:

Head of reGEN Film; Co-Lead of reGEN Global Studios


reGEN Film is a female-led media studio that facilitates the creation, funding, distribution, marketing, and impact campaigns of regenerative media projects through a relational filmmaking model. Central to our model is a holistic approach to defining a film project. For us, a project encompasses:

  • a story in the form of a regenerative film that will inspire and propel a particular, desired impact in the audiences it reaches;

  • a customized marketing and distribution plan that best supports the unique story and and getting that story to its intended audience; and

  • an impact strategy for achieving a specific regenerative aim in individuals, a community, or the broader culture; that strategy will include bringing the film to audiences in a transformative and experiential way with the aim of propelling shifts in action, thinking, and beliefs


Notable Prior Jobs:

I am a 15-time award winning independent filmmaker; I have written, acted in, and produced two award-winning feature films. The first, IMAGINE I'M BEAUTIFUL (2014), collected 12 awards on the film festival circuit before receiving a theatrical and digital distribution deal and is now available on AmazonPrime. My second feature, BITE ME (2019), was released via a paradigm-shifting 3 month, 51 screening, 40 city Joyful Vampire Tour of America that took the country by storm, and is now available on iTunes, GooglePlay, and Amazon.


I am the founder and Chief Impact Officer of The 51 Fund, a private equity fund dedicated to financing films by women. Our films CUSP and SHAYDA both premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won a Special Jury Prize and the Audience Award respectively. SHAYDA is Australia’s official entry for the 2024 Best International Feature Film Academy Award.


I have spent the last decade as an advocate and thought leader for bringing gender parity to cinema. My writing on this has appeared in The Atlantic, Ms. Magazine, and Salon.com, and I gave a virally sensational TEDTalk, "What it’s Like to Be a Woman in Hollywood," which has now been viewed over 1 million times and can be seen on TED.com. My first book, THE WRONG KIND OF WOMAN: INSIDE OUR REVOLUTION TO DISMANTLE THE GODS OF HOLLYWOOD, debuted as a #1 Amazon bestseller and received an electric critical response, with The Christian Science Monitor calling it, “...an outpouring of passion that will change the ways in which movies are seen,” and is now available wherever books are sold. I have been a guest speaker on this subject at NYU, Columbia, Harvard, and Cambridge Universities and my book is on the curriculum at colleges and universities around the globe.


When I Started Performing: Age 4


Performing Arts Background: I began my performing life as a ballerina, after my mother took me to see a production of "The Nutcracker" at age 4 and I, so I am told, stood up in the middle of the second act and very loudly said, "I want to do THAT!"


From there, I have spent the ensuing 32 years performing in almost every conceivable medium - as a dancer, actress, singer - in theater, film, and television - in well over 100 productions.


I attended the theater/acting programs at Cornell University and The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City.


How did your performing arts background supercharge your entrepreneurship?

I always say that everyone would be a better human being if they were made to spend two years in acting school. There are the traits that you learn that are likely to make you a successful person - interpersonal skills, how to make eye contact, how to take hold of and sway a room with your voice and story, how to listen, how to speak and be heard, etc. But, even more than that, training to be an actor is really training in the deepest form of compassion. Not only how to imagine another human being's experience vaguely, but to so fully imagine and embody what it's like to be in their perspective - to feel their hopes and joys and pain and sorrow - that you become them.

 

All of these skills are massively useful in entrepreneurship. The interpersonal skills and ability to speak and listen with people well - whether I am in front of a group of people or in conversation with one person – are what allow to me to persuade people that what I am working on is important and (often) convince them to get involved. Being able to easily imagine myself into the other person’s mind and experience is something I take advantage of in every interaction and especially in deal-making. It might be sort of effective to convincingly make your own argument from your own perspective, but when I can pre-emptively put myself in the other person’s shoes and truly understand what their motivations are, where their pain points and joy lies, I can wrap their own needs and desires into my pitch and that is when I am most effective.

 

Lastly, being a creative in the performing arts developed in me an ease and willingness with instability. Perhaps that may not sound like a benefit, but in entrepreneurship it absolutely is. I know what it’s like when you’re not sure where the next paycheck is coming from. I’ve even had times – when all my gig work got cancelled at the beginning of Covid – where I had to really live through the possibility of not being able to pay my bills and lose my home, my wifi, my phone, everything (happily, that didn’t occur). My privilege check here is that I always knew I had parents and friends I could go live with if the shit really hit the fan, which I realize is not something everyone has. However, with that caveat, to live through those times and realize that I could survive them – that what I thought was the minimum I needed was actually more than what I needed to absolutely survive – has provided me with a fantastic sense of liberation. I believe that I am more able to take the sometimes risky swings that are part of successful entrepreneurship because I know that win, fail, or break even, I will make it out the other side and survive to try the next thing. 


Favorite Performer: The one I can't stop thinking about right now is the violinist Augustin Hadelich. My husband is a violinist and swears that Hadelich is the best living violinist. I don't know enough about violin playing to tell a really good violinist from a great violinist, but we were lucky enough to see Hadelich perform in person this past summer and he taught me something about performance. Hadelich stood on stage in the concert hall, closed his eyes, and, I swear, channeled god/source/whatever that means to you. It wasn't just that his violin technique was incredible - which Stephen assures me it was - it was that he somehow inducted every single one of us sitting in that hall into a higher plane of existence through the energy he was pulling through his music. He taught me that night what a truly great performer is: someone who can do THAT - whatever their medium is. It’s a talent that completely transcends mere technical skill.


Follow this Performer:

X/Twitter – @NaomiMcDougallJ





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