Participant Media said Thursday that it has hired Fox Searchlight executive Anikah McLaren, and she will team with current Participant exec Robert Kessel to be co-heads of the company’s narrative film division. Both will sport the titles EVP Narrative Film at the company, whose pics in this space include Oscar Best Picture winners Green Book and Spotlight.
Kessel has been with Participant since 2013, and is being promoted from his current post as SVP Narrative Film.
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“I couldn’t be more excited to have Anikah and Robert running our narrative department during this exciting time for Participant,” said Participant CEO David Linde, to whom both will report. “Robert has proven himself time and again to be an invaluable part of the company, and Anikah brings with her experience and passion we’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else. Together, they are the perfect team to lead this dynamic team in creating entertaining, socially impactful content for audiences to enjoy around the world.”
McLaren most recently was SVP Production at Fox Searchlight Pictures, which recently moved to Disney as part of its acquisition of most of 21st Century Fox’s assets. At FSL she oversaw Robert Redford-starrer The Old Man and the Gun and helped developed projects including a feature film about choreographer Alvin Ailey to be directed by Barry Jenkins. McLaren arrived at Searchlight in 2015 after a long stint at Universal, where she worked on films including Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, The Bourne Legacy, The Best Man Holiday and Lone Survivor. She also had gigs at Focus Features and Miramax Films.
“Participant is the gold standard for entertaining and impactful filmmaking, and I am thrilled to be joining this incredible group of innovative and passionate executives in continuing that legacy,” McLaren said.
Kessel helped develop Participant hits Wonder (as EP) and Green Book and oversaw production on both. He also oversaw Spotlight, Deepwater Horizon, Beasts of No Nation and A Most Violent Year and is now executive producing Todd Haynes’ Dark Waters starring Mark Ruffalo and Anne Hathaway.
“For the past seven years, I have had the pleasure of working with incredibly talented filmmakers and colleagues, with whom I look forward to continue to work alongside in championing compelling storytelling with the potential for effecting lasting change,” he said Thursday.