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Sheila Nevins

President of HBO Documentary Films

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Sheila Nevins talks about becoming the storyteller she is today, feminism and directing real films that matter.

Sheila Nevins is president, HBO Documentary Films, for Home Box Office, responsible for overseeing the development and production of all documentaries for HBO, HBO2 and Cinemax. She was named to this position in February 2004.

As an executive producer or producer, she has received 32 Primetime Emmy® Awards, 34 News and Documentary Emmys® and 42 George Foster Peabody Awards. During her tenure, HBO’s critically acclaimed documentaries have gone on to win 26 Academy Awards®, the most recently of which was "A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness" in 2016. Other Oscar® winners include "Citizenfour" (2015), "Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1" (2015), "Saving Face" (2012), "Strangers No More" (2011), "Music By Prudence (2010), "Smile Pinki" (2009), "The Blood of Yingzhou District" (2007), "Born Into Brothels" (2005), "Chernobyl Heart" (2004), "Murder on a Sunday Morning" (2002), "King Gimp" (2000), "One Survivor Remembers" (1996), "I Am a Promise" (1994), "Educating Peter" (1993) and "You Don’t Have To Die" (1989). The series "Cinemax Reel Life" has featured a number of award-winning documentaries including "Big Mama," winner of the 2001 Academy Award® for Best Short Subject, "The Personals: Improvisations on Romance in the Golden Years" (1999) and "Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O'Brien," an Oscar® winner in 1997.

Nevins has been honored with several prestigious career achievement awards including, most recently, the 2009 Governors Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and was made an NYU Tisch School of the Arts Honoree. She is also the recipient of a 2008 Gotham Awards Tribute; a 2005 Emmy® Lifetime Achievement Award for her contributions to the art of the documentary, the first time the National Television Academy awarded a Lifetime Achievement recognition to a documentarian; and a Personal Peabody in 1999 in recognition of her work and ongoing commitment to excellence. In 2003, Women in Film presented Nevins with a Lucy Award for her outstanding achievements in advancing documentary filmmaking. In 2002, the National Board of Review presented her with the Humanitarian Award for her contribution to the advancement of social reforms and the promotion of human welfare through film. In 2000, Nevins was inducted into Broadcasting & Cable’s Hall of Fame, and in 1998 she garnered the IDA Career Achievement Award and the New York Women in Film & Television Muse Award for Outstanding Vision & Achievement.

Nevins was named vice president, Documentary and Family Programming in 1985; appointed senior vice president, Original Programming, in 1995; and promoted to executive vice president, Original Programming, in 1999. She has supervised the production of more than 1,000 documentary programs for HBO, and won the first George Foster Peabody Award ever presented to a cable program for "She’s Nobody’s Baby," which was produced with Ms. Magazine.

Nevins is a member of the Writers Guild of America, the Producers Guild of America and The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Nevins holds a BA from Barnard College and an MFA from Yale University School of Drama in Directing.

Nevin's book, "You Don’t Look Your Age ... and Other Fairy Tales," is in stores now. Also available in eBook, Digital Audio Download and Audio CD Formats.

More From Sheila

Feminist by Default
Sheila Nevins on not wanting women to have to go through what she went through.

Experiencing Anti-Semitism
Sheila Nevins on her experience with an old boyfriend’s mother.

The Most Meaningful Advice
Sheila Nevins on hitting the ball out of the park.

What is HBO?
Sheila Nevins on falling in love with the idea of possibility.

Storytelling Through Real People
Sheila Nevins on creating documentaries at HBO.

Women in Directing
Sheila Nevins on her time at Yale being one of two females in the male-dominated directing program.

Reality Sex Shows
Sheila Nevins on sex reality programming on HBO.

Turning Down 60 Minutes
Sheila Nevins on her take being on live television and directing instead.

Earned Confidence
Sheila Nevins on not having to work for all she has and not being given anything.