KATE BOSWORTH: How did you arrive here?
DONNA LANGLEY: By doing the work, staying focused and having great mentors.
KB: What is your earliest memory of cinema?
DL: Fantasia. I was terrified.
KB: What made you decide to be involved in the filmmaking process?
DL: When I arrived in L.A. more than 25 years ago, I always knew I wanted to be a storyteller in some form, but my film career really took root when my good friend and mentor Mike De Luca hired me at New Line to develop and make actual movies.
KB: What drives you? What inspires you professionally?
DL: The beauty and possibility of storytelling. Reading a great script or story, with characters and a narrative that everyone can relate to but that’s told in an original way.
KB: Is there a person or event who impacted who you are today? What inspires you personally?
DL: Easiest question so far! Having my children was the single most impactful experience of my life, and meeting my husband, Ramin. The sense of purpose and meaning that comes with having a family is my constant source of inspiration.
KB: How much doubt versus faith do you use in a percentage of a day? Is there a decision you have made or have not made that you wish you had or had not?
DL: My approach to decision-making isn’t really a matter of doubt vs. faith. I’m a practical optimist. Marketing and research information is incredibly important to the greenlight process. I’ve made a fair amount of decisions based on my intuitions and life experience that there will be an audience for a movie we want to make, even when the research didn’t necessarily make it an easy decision. Fifty Shades Darker is the perfect example of this. There was a lot of discussion around acquiring the literary rights to make this movie, and I had to make the call. It went on to be one of the most important and successful titles in our portfolio.
KB: What do these two words mean to you: Blue Crush?
DL: One of my favorite movie experiences. Everyone worked so hard, training to surf, acting for the first time, working on water—but we were all in it for the right reasons. Many of the actors were doing it for the first time, and it was my first film at Universal, so the stakes were high for all of us.
KB: Do you have fear? How do you move through it?
DL: I’m not a fearful person by nature. I love taking risks and approaching life as an adventure. But of course, as a parent and chairman of a studio there are days where the fear can feel real. In those moments, I ground myself in finding out all the information I need to know about the situation and move through it by using my problem-solving skills.
KB: What words do you have for anyone aspiring to be a leader in the entertainment industry? How do you feel about being a leader in the film industry?
DL: As a community of storytellers with unparalleled reach, being part of this industry gives us an endless opportunity to move audiences around the world—to see life through someone else’s eyes, and that is an incredible thing. I am so grateful to be a part of this community and take so much pride in all that Universal has accomplished over the years.
KB: Multiple choice. “This Is Your Life”:
C. TV series
D. A theme park ride
DL: A movie!
KB: What has been a great accomplishment for you?
DL: My family first and foremost, my work with Vital Voices, reaching record-breaking success over the last few years with the best team in the business. I have so much to be thankful for.
KB: What does a Citizen of Humanity mean to you?
DL: Fighting against systematic, global inequality—finding ways to empower and connect the disenfranchised with solutions that can have a lasting impact.