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Sheila Nevins
The Princess Switch
Nevins in 2014
Born (1939-04-06) April 6, 1939 (age 83)
Manhattan, New York U.S.
Education Little Red School House
High School of Performing Arts
Alma mater Barnard College
Yale School of Drama
Occupation(s)Television producer
documentary filmmaker
Years active1960–present
Known forPresident of HBO Documentary Films

Sheila Nevins (born April 6, 1939) [1] [2] is an American television producer and head of MTV Documentary Films division of MTV Studios. [3] Previously, Nevins was the President of HBO Documentary Films. She has produced over 1,000 documentary films for HBO and is one of the most influential people in documentary filmmaking. [4] She has worked on productions that have been recognized with 35 News and Documentary Emmy Awards, 42 Peabody Awards, and 26 Academy Awards. Nevins has won 31 individual Primetime Emmy Awards, more than any other person. [5] She is also a member of the Peabody Awards [6] board of directors, which is presented by the University of Georgia's Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. [7] [8]

Early life and education

Nevins was born to a Jewish family [9] on the Lower East Side of Manhattan [1] in New York City to Stella Nevins (née Rosenberg), [10] a chemist, and Benjamin Nevins, a Russian immigrant post office worker who was also a bookie. Nevins' family was very poor and her mother suffered from an acute form of Raynaud's disease, which resulted in amputations of her limbs, and scleroderma. [11] Nevins has a younger sister (born 1946) who is a doctor.

Due to the generosity of her uncle, who was a wealthy inventor, Nevins attended private schools growing up. [12] [13] Nevins attended Little Red School House and the High School of Performing Arts in New York City.

She received a BA in English from Barnard College in 1960. In 1963 she received an MFA in Directing from the Yale School of Drama, where she was one of two women in the directing program. [1] [14]


In the 1960s, Nevins began her career at the United States Information Agency in Washington, D.C. She was hired to play a secretary in the USIA TV series called Adventures in English, which was created to teach English vocabulary, which her character repeated, in foreign countries. [1] Nevins then worked as a researcher, cataloging historical footage about World War II at the Library of Congress. Nevins said that this immersive work inspired her to shift focus from the fictional world of theater to the fact-based world of documented in film. [15]

From 1970 to 1973, after moving back to New York, Nevins apprenticed with director Don Mischer and producer Bob Squire. Nevins then got a job as a researcher on Al Perlmutter's on the groundbreaking Channel 13 TV show The Great American Dream Machine, eventually working her way up to doing segments and "man on the street" interviews. Nevins also worked as a director. [16] Inspired by the film Salesman, she hired Albert and David Maysles to direct parts of the show. [13] [17]

In 1973, Nevins was a Field Producer for The Reasoner Report on ABC News.

From 1973 to 1975, Nevins wrote for Time-Life Films. She worked briefly for 20/20. Nevins declined Don Hewitt's invitation to be a producer for 60 Minutes. [18]

In 1975 she began working as a writer and producer for the Children's Television Workshop. She also worked at Scribner making recordings of books for blind people. Nevins was a researcher then associate producer for The Great American Dream Machine on National Educational Television.

In 1978 and 1979, Nevins was a producer for the CBS News magazine Who's Who.


In 1979, Nevins was hired by HBO as Director of Documentary Programming on a 13-week contract. [14] She continued in that position until 1982.

From 1983 to 1985, Nevins had a production company called Spinning Reels and created the animated educational program Braingames. [13] [19]

In 1986, Nevins returned to HBO as Vice President of Documentary Programming. In 1995, she became the Senior Vice President of Original Programming. Nevin's tenure at HBO saw the rise of sexually-themed programming in the America Undercover documentary series. [20]

From 1999 to 2003, Nevins was the Executive Vice President of Original Programming at HBO. [17] In 1998, Nevins said that she produced 12 documentaries a year at HBO, with budgets that were typically US$600,000 in 1998 dollars. [21]

Nevins was HBO's President of Documentary and Family Programming since 2004.

In March 2018, Nevins retired from her position at HBO. [22] [23]


In 2007, Nevins wrote the foreword to the book Addiction: Why Can't They Just Stop?, which was based on the HBO documentary series of the same name, and was produced in association with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. [24]

In 2017, Nevins published a memoir, You Don't Look Your Age... and Other Fairy Tales. [25] Nevins explores concepts of aging, youth, and experience. Some of the book features lightly fictionalized vignettes and poetry. [26] [27] Kathy Bates, Gloria Vanderbilt, Lily Tomlin, Martha Stewart, Meryl Streep, RuPaul, among many others, contributed audio performances to the audio version of the book. [28]

Personal life

In 1963, Nevins married a lawyer who also attended Yale. Though she wanted to pursue a theater career, her husband wanted her to be home evenings and weekends, forcing her to find a daytime job. The marriage ended in divorce. [15] [29]

In 1972, Nevins married investment banker Sidney Koch. The pair had a home in Litchfield, Connecticut and an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. They have one son, David Koch (born 1980). [30] She has discussed her son's struggle with Tourette syndrome and her struggle to be a working mother with a son who was ill. [18] Nevins has said that the 2007 HBO series, Addiction, was inspired by her son's struggles with substance abuse. [14]

Nevins produced an HBO documentary about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire called Triangle: Remembering the Fire, to which she had a personal connection, which she found out about after seeing the documentary Schmatta. Nevins' great-aunt Celia Gittlin, a 17-year-old immigrant from Russia, had died in the fire. [31]

Nevins enjoys theater and is an admirer of Gloria Steinem, who she has deemed "next to my mother, the most important woman I’ve ever met." [32]

Honors and awards

Cable Ace Awards

Peabody Awards

Primetime Emmy Awards

Selected filmography

  • 1981: She's Nobody's Baby: The History of American Women in the 20th Century – HBO and Ms. magazine
  • 1983–1985: Braingames – creator, executive producer
  • 1991–2005: America Undercover – executive producer
  • 1995: One Survivor Remembers – senior producer
  • 1997: 4 Little Girls – executive producer
  • 2001: Living Dolls: The Making of a Child Beauty Queen – executive producer

Works and publications

  • Nevins, Sheila (foreword by) (2007). Hoffman, John; Froemke, Susan (eds.). Addiction: Why Can't They Just Stop?: New Knowledge, New Treatments, New Hope. New York: Rodale, Inc. ISBN  978-1-609-61697-7. OCLC  894934005.
  • Nevins, Sheila (2017). You Don't Look Your Age... and Other Fairy Tales. New York: Flatiron Books. ISBN  978-1-250-11132-6. OCLC  1033473012.


  1. ^ a b c d Mascaro, Thomas A. (2008). "Documentaries: Form and Function". In Edgerton, Gary R.; Jones, Jeffrey P. (eds.). The Essential HBO Reader. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky. pp.  239–. ISBN  978-0-813-17265-1. OCLC  190963950.
  2. ^ "Sheila Nevins: United States Public Records, 1970-2009". FamilySearch. January 1, 2009.
  3. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (May 7, 2019). "Sheila Nevins Sets Next Act: Launching MTV Documentary Films". Article. The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
  4. ^ Taubin, Amy (Summer 2004). "HBO's Sheila Nevins Nurtures and Nudges". Ms. Magazine.
  5. ^ Fontoura, Maria (March 2, 2022). "The Maestro: Sheila Nevins". Rolling Stone. No. 1361. New York: Penske. pp. 36–37, 80. ISSN  0035-791X. ProQuest  2634875211. Archived from the original on July 27, 2022. Retrieved July 27, 2022.
  6. ^ "Who We Are". Grady College and University of Georgia. Retrieved November 22, 2019.
  7. ^ Salemi, Vicki (September 16, 2017). "Executive Producer Sheila Nevins Shares Five Career And Life Lessons". Forbes.
  8. ^ "The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Announces Winners at the 38th Annual News & Documentary Emmy® Awards" (PDF). National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. October 5, 2017.
  9. ^ "Nevins, Sheila". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  10. ^ "Deaths: NEVINS-Stella" (PDF). The New York Times. October 23, 1975. p. 42.
  11. ^ Dunn, Edwina (2017). "Sheila Nevins". The Female Lead: Women Who Shape Our World. London: Ebury Press. ISBN  978-1-473-52945-8. OCLC  992169535.
  12. ^ "Sheila Nevins" (Video). MAKERS. 2017.
  13. ^ a b c "Sheila Nevins interview". Archive of American Television (Interview). Interviewed by Karen Herman. New York. May 2, 2006.
  14. ^ a b c Jensen, Elizabeth (June 11, 2010). "Sheila Nevins: The Force Behind HBO Documentaries". The New York Times.
  15. ^ a b Rose, Charlie; Nevins, Sheila (March 21, 2001). "Sheila Nevins – Charlie Rose" (Video interview, includes transcript). Charlie Rose.
  16. ^ Blau, Eleanor (February 11, 1988). "Museum Show Honors 25 Years of Channel 13". The New York Times.
  17. ^ a b Sheuer, Steven; Nevins, Sheila (October 17, 2002). "Television in America: An Autobiography – Sheila Nevins" (Video interview). Television in America. CUNY TV.
  18. ^ a b Rose, Charlie; Nevins, Sheila (April 28, 2017). "Sheila Nevins – Charlie Rose" (Video interview with transcript). Charlie Rose.
  19. ^ O'Connor, John J. (November 5, 1984). "'Wonderworks' and 'Braingames'". The New York Times.
  20. ^ Salamon, Julie (March 3, 2002). "Nevins Rules". The New York Times.
  21. ^ Sterngold, James (April 15, 1998). "Arts in America; HBO Programmer Likes to Kindle Both Heat and Light". The New York Times.
  22. ^ Dowd, Maureen (December 16, 2017). "The Grande Dame of Documentary Is Leaving Her Home at HBO". The New York Times.
  23. ^ Haylock, Zoe (March 22, 2017). "Sheila Nevins Declares She's "Too Energetic and Ambitious to Retire"". The Hollywood Reporter.
  24. ^ Nevins, Sheila (foreword by) (2007). Hoffman, John; Froemke, Susan (eds.). Addiction: Why Can't They Just Stop?: New Knowledge, New Treatments, New Hope. New York: Rodale, Inc. ISBN  978-1-609-61697-7. OCLC  894934005.
  25. ^ Nevins, Sheila (2017). You Don't Look Your Age... and Other Fairy Tales. New York: Flatiron Books. ISBN  978-1-250-11132-6. OCLC  1033473012.
  26. ^ Clemons, Steve; Nevins, Sheila (October 25, 2018). "The New Old Age: Films, Fairy Tales, and Aging" (Video interview). The Atlantic.
  27. ^ Simon, Scott; Nevins, Sheila (April 29, 2017). "Documentary Filmmaker On The Personal Essays In 'You Don't Look Your Age'" (Audio interview). Weekend Edition Sunday. NPR.
  28. ^ Barnes, Brooks (May 5, 2017). "Being an 'Old Lady' Role Model in Hollywood? Not Easy". The New York Times.
  29. ^ Nelson, Steve; Nevins, Sheila (July 30, 2001). "Hauser Collection: Sheila Nevins 2001 Oral and Video History" (Oral history video interview with transcript). The Cable Center.
  30. ^ "Weddings/Celebrations: Brooke Colbert, David Koch". The New York Times. September 25, 2011.
  31. ^ Berger, Joseph (March 25, 2011). "Triangle Fire: Clinging to Scraps of Memories". The New York Times.
  32. ^ Jensen, Elizabeth (August 12, 2011). "Steinem's Story, for a New Generation". The New York Times.
  33. ^ "THR's Women in Entertainment 2011: Power 100. Sheila Nevins: President, HBO Documentary Films". The Hollywood Reporter. December 7, 2011.
  34. ^ "Women of Achievement Honorees". Women's Project Theater.
  35. ^ "She's Nobody's Baby: The History of American Women in the 20th Century". Peabody Award. 1981.
  36. ^ Mesce, Jr., Bill (2015). Inside the Rise of HBO: A Personal History of the Company That Transformed Television. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 137. ISBN  978-1-476-62225-5. OCLC  913376198.
  37. ^ "Personal Award: Sheila Nevins". Peabody Award. 1999.
  38. ^ "Baghdad ER (Home Box Office)". Peabody Award. 2006.
  39. ^ "Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God (HBO)". Peabody Award. 2013.
  40. ^ "Life According to Sam (HBO)". Peabody Award. 2013.

Further reading

  • Cunningham, Megan (2005). "Producing: Sheila Nevins: Collaborating with Directors". The Art of the Documentary: Fifteen Conversations with Leading Directors, Cinematographers, Editors, and Producers. San Francisco: New Riders. ISBN  978-0-133-76497-0. OCLC  869792233.
  • Dunn, Edwina (2017). "Sheila Nevins". The Female Lead: Women Who Shape Our World. London: Ebury Press. ISBN  978-1-473-52945-8. OCLC  992169535.

External links