When Alana Mayo became president of Orion Pictures in September 2020, her mandate was clear: Develop films centering underrepresented voices. It’s what she’s spent her career thinking about, including in her previous roles as head of production and development for Michael B. Jordan’s Outlier Society and as vice president of production at Paramount Pictures.
However, MGM Studios relaunching Orion Pictures with this specific focus—and with Mayo at her highest-ranking title yet—gave her renewed perspective to push “radical inclusion,” i.e., “inviting as many different disparate, and, frankly, contradictory voices into the process as possible,” she explains. (MGM was purchased by Amazon for nearly $8.5 billion in March of this year.)
“What we’re trying to do is get more people to think that way, and to understand the opportunity of conscious filmmaking, where you are just trying to invite as many different voices into the process and also broaden the spectrum of what a Hollywood film could be,” says Mayo. “That’s just a better way to do the job.”
In just two years, Mayo has developed a slate of films—during the pandemic, no less—that include Billy Porter’s directorial debut Anything’s Possible, a coming-of-age story about a trans teen; Till, a biopic of Emmett Till’s mother Mamie Till-Mobley; adaptations of the best-selling novels Crying in H Mart and Women Talking; and Bottoms, which follows two queer girls who start a fight club.
“Hollywood has to evolve to survive,” Mayo says. “In a world where you’re trying to figure out how to constantly grow and change and meet people where they are and touch the zeitgeist in some way, the zeitgeist is pretty clear on diversity, equity [and inclusion]—they want more of it.”