Sam Sokolow is the Emmy nominated producer of ‘Genius’, an anthology drama series on National Geographic. His work in film and television has led to a body of work that reflects his passion and curiosity. In this conversation, Sam unpacks the keys to his success, his reflections on the unexpected twists in his journey, and his advice to the dreamer who’s wondering whether it’s too late to win (spoiler alert: it’s not).
Behind His Brilliance: Perseverance
Say hi to Sam on Instagram: @samsokolow
SAM SOKOLOW | Television Producer
Sam Sokolow is a two time Emmy-nominated television Producer and currently the founder of Nice Media Studios, a Los Angeles and Toronto based independent television studio. At Nice Media Studios, Sam oversees all aspects of television & film development and physical production, including the acquisition and packaging of intellectual properties, script & format development, sales and full service third party production services in both the US and abroad – every aspect of building an independent television company, managing physical production and bringing television shows, limited series and films to the screen.
Sam is currently Executive Producer of GENIUS, a scripted series for National Geographic Network. Sam developed GENIUS from book to series. The first season of GENIUS depicted the life of Albert Einstein with Geoffrey Rush starring as Einstein and Ron Howard directing the pilot. GENIUS: EINSTEIN garnered ten 2017 Emmy nominations including a Best Limited Series nomination for Sam. The second season of GENIUS – GENIUS: PICASSO – depicted the life of Pablo Picasso with Antonio Banderas starring as Picasso and garnered seven 2018 Emmy nominations including a Best Limited Series nomination for Sam. The third season of GENIUS – GENIUS: ARETHA – depicts the life of “The Queen Of Soul” Aretha Franklin, with Cynthia Erivo portraying Aretha and Suzan-Lori Parks showrunning, and will premiere in May 2020.
Sam is also currently in development with MGM on a television adaptation of TC Boyle’s seminal immigration novel THE TORTILLA CURTAIN with Will Scheffer & Mark Olsen attached to create and showrun; with BBC Studios on CJ Tudor’s London Sunday Times bestseller THE CHALK MAN with BAFTA winner Nick Leather attached to write; with eOne on AJ Lee’s New York Times bestselling memoir CRAZY IS MY SUPERPOWER; and with SKR Productions on an American version of the hit South African reality format STRANGERS FOR FRIENDS.
Sam is a teacher and a mentor. Sam has taught college and graduate level classes at the Boston University LA Program for the last 4 years. His classes at BULA, “Careers in Hollywood” and “A Creative Life In Television”, give students real world tools that they can use when seeking their first jobs in the entertainment industry and when rising through the industry. Sam has also guest lectured at UCLA, USC and Loyola Marymount. He has mentored students from colleges that range from American University to The University of Wisconsin.
Previously, Sam served as the President of EUE/Sokolow, an independent television studio located in Los Angeles and New York and prior to that Sam was a founding partner of SokoLobl Entertainment, an independent television production company based in Los Angeles. While leading these companies, Sam oversaw development, sales and physical production, Executive Producing 13 original scripted and non-scripted television series and scores of pilots and presentations for networks across the dial.
In 2000, Sam served as Co-President of Homemade Entertainment, a venture capital backed television content website. In 1997, Sam co-wrote, produced and directed the award-winning independent feature film THE DEFINITE MAYBE, starring Josh Lucas, Roy Scheider and Bob Balaban. In 1999, Sam became the first filmmaker to self-distribute his own feature film via the Internet, a groundbreaking initiative that landed him on Good Morning America and in Time Magazine.
Sam’s early days in Hollywood
How Sam thinks about rejection and hearing no
How Sam reinvented himself at 40
The importance of leveraging a “no” into a “yes”
How Sam chooses collaborators and partners
Sam’s perspective on effective pitching
How to think about failing forward
And much, much more!
STUFF MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
Button Man by Andrew Gross (Sam’s book pick)
E=MC2 by David Bodanis (Sam’s book pick)
The Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell (Sam’s book pick)