'Go for It—at Every Level': Career Advice From the CEO of DreamWorks

Stacey Snider describes how she worked her way up from the mailroom (literally) to become a top Hollywood executive. 

"One day I was asked to pick up $50,000 worth of gold chains for Mr. T," Stacey Snider smiles, remembering her early days in an entry-level job at a Hollywood agency. "For real!" She had already earned degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and UCLA Law School but realized that, to break into the entertainment business, she'd have to start at the bottom.

Passionate about stories and the "exponential" impact of cinema, she quickly rose through the ranks to become a development executive and eventually served as president of TriStar Pictures and then chairman of Universal Pictures. Credited for Universal's comeback during her tenure, she went on to join DreamWorks Studios in 2006, where she is co-chairman, CEO, and partner alongside Steven Spielberg. In the course of her career, she has overseen dozens of films including Lincoln, Brokeback Mountain, Transformers, Lost in Translation, The Help, A Beautiful Mind, the Bourne series, Seabiscuit, Erin Brockovich, and more.

"I have always felt that my career was not going to be a straight shot up, but more of a kind of rolling wave, so that I could raise my children," she reflects in this interview from Atlantic Video's series Advice to a Younger Me. "So I got pregnant when I was the head of production at a studio, and I became chairperson at a bigger studio when I was pregnant with my second daughter. You just do it!"

Snider's perspective is warm, funny, and inspiring. "You can't do everything, at the same time, always, and forever," she explains, "but if you look at your life and your career as a long, winding river, you can get to your destination." 

Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The AtlanticMore

Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg joined The Atlantic in 2011 to launch its video channel and, in 2013, create its in-house video production department. She leads the development and production of original documentaries, interviews, and other video content for The Atlantic. Previously, she worked as a producer at Al Gore’s Current TV and as a content strategist and documentary producer in San Francisco. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How a Psychedelic Masterpiece Is Made

A short documentary about Bruce Riley, an artist who paints abstract wonders with poured resin

Videos

Why Is Google Making Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors are changing the way people think about health.

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

More in Video

Just In