EXCLUSIVE: After finishing a year in which it backed awards bait films Roma, Green Book, RBG and America To Me, and starting 2019 with American Factory and The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind premiering here at Sundance, Participant Media has elevated three of its key executives. Christina Kounelias has been elevated to President of Worldwide Marketing; Krista Wegener has been upped to Executive Vice President and continues to lead Sales and Distribution for Participant; and Gabriel Brakin has been elevated to Chief Operating Officer. All three executives will continue to report to Participant CEO David Linde.
Brakin previously served as General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Business Affairs, and in his new role will oversee company-wide business operations, deal-making, as well as corporate and legal affairs for Participant’s overall long-term strategic plan. He will also be responsible for driving the overall integration and functionality of Participant’s mandate to create commercial content that empowers positive social action. Both Wegener and Kounelias will continue to work cross-departmentally in managing efforts related to their respective departments. Kounelias also will oversee efforts in the company’s brand management and development.
Said Linde: “I am thrilled by this well-deserved, long-overdue recognition of the hard work and dedication shown by this incredibly talented trio. Gabe’s experience and growth with the company has resulted in some of our most important successes, and he will continue to be an incomparable asset as we look to new and exciting ways to expand our social impact work. Christina has proven time and again her value and expertise in progressing what this company can accomplish, as well as her work with our various partners to help leverage our brand and content with a worldwide audience. And with her broad network of top-tier contacts in global sales and distribution, Krista will continue to be an even more instrumental component to the growth and success of the company.”
Participant’s content is run by Diane Weyermann and Jonathan King, and landed the most Oscar nominations in the company’s history — 17 for Roma, Green Book and RBG — this after seeing those win five Golden Globes in total.
Participant’s social impact group, led by Holly Gordon, launched a nationwide 10-city impact campaign tied to the release of America to Me, focusing on issues of racial disparity, education and equity that inspired more than 1,200 confirmed watch groups with over 14,000 participants across 34 states. The Sundance winning docu The Price of Free, built around Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi, has generated to date more than 6.5 million views on SoulPancake’s YouTube channel with more than 1.4 million letters sent by consumers to the top 100 U.S. retailers urging them to strengthen their policies and practices to end child labor. Continuing into 2019, Participant just announced a national campaign around the film On the Basis of Sex, promoting workplace equality and gender equity.
Said Wegener, who joined in 2016: “It is an absolute privilege to work on film and television projects that are both excellent and meaningful. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to continue collaborating with all of my colleagues at Participant, as well as our best-in-class distributors to bring these important stories to audiences around the world.”
Said Kounelias, who joined Participant in 2016 from the Chief Marketing Officer post at AMPAS: “Since joining the company, it’s been extremely gratifying to be a part of how our extraordinary content, brought to life by Diane and Jonathan, combines so successfully with our social impact mission, and now to experience first-hand the growing relevance and power of the Participant brand. I’m so proud to be working with the entire Participant team during this exciting time.”
Said Brakin, who moved from the showbiz law firm O’Melveny& Myers in 2008: “I’m thrilled to take on this new role and continue working with David and the rest of the team to advance Jeff Skoll’s vision of creating world-class content that inspires and empowers audiences to drive change on the world’s most pressing issues.”