A Love of Literature Leads to Producing Movies

As a college graduate with a degree in English with no solid idea of what to do, I never would have predicted where my love for literature would lead me more than 30 years later.  After a long career, mostly on the business side of the publishing industry as well as my current position in a wonderful nonprofit organization, I am a movie producer!

In 2017, my film producing partner and I released a film, Crooked House, based on the book by Agatha Christie. This has been a wonderful evolution of my love for Agatha Christie novels, all of which I had read by age 12 and continue to enjoy rereading.  The story of getting to this point involves a number of career moves that were guided by following my true interests, including books and entrepreneurship.

Career Path

After college, I went to work for a literary agency because it seemed like a logical move for an English major. Following that, a three-year stint at Morgan Stanley led me to want to eventually run a business, so I went to business school and earned an MBA.

I decided to use the business skills and knowledge acquired in the MBA program in the publishing industry, which, as an avid reader, I felt a real connection to. A position in a new direct marketing business at Bantam Books was a perfect combination for both my creative and analytical skills, and the fact that it was a start-up division within a large company was also extremely appealing. Soon after being hired, my boss left the company and I was promoted, attaining my wish of being a general manager with full P&L responsibility.  Through my work at Bantam I met and became friends with the family of Agatha Christie, and later was asked to be on the Board of Agatha Christie Ltd., the organization that owns and manages the rights to her works, a wonderful opportunity for an avid fan as I was.

My experience in direct marketing at Bantam proved to be a great platform for overseeing online businesses, which I subsequently did for Simon & Schuster and Pearson and then as co-founder of a fin-tech start-up. In 2012 I was recruited to my current role as the Chief Operating Officer for the Council for Economic Education (CEE), a wonderful non-profit focused on economic and financial literacy for K-12 students.

In addition to having an entrepreneurial thread, my career pivots have been based on true interests of mine. And this leads to my latest effort, producing an Agatha Christie film.

Becoming a Movie Producer

During lunch one day a good friend from business school with great experience in the film and television industry asked if I wanted to join him in acquiring the film rights to classic books.  This was a very exciting idea for me and became more so when we thought of starting with Agatha Christie. After independently reviewing the books that were available for film adaptation, the same title topped each of our lists, and that was Crooked House. Julian Fellowes, the creator of the award-winning series Downton Abbey, wrote the screenplay, and after several years Crooked House was released in 2017. Glenn Close stars in the film with a great cast.

Additional films based on classic literary properties which are both amusing and feature outstanding roles for women are in the works.  This is such an invigorating creative project in addition to my meaningful work at CEE.   And, my interest in Agatha Christie continues to provide additional interesting opportunities; I just returned from serving as an Agatha Christie expert on a New York Times Journey on the Orient Express.  As a pre-teen racing through all of Christie’s books, I never would have anticipated the opportunities she might provide throughout my life.

Passion and Practical Life

Most of us have to make a living, so hearing someone advise, “find your passion” does not always mesh with real life as there is not always a perfect balance between passion and practicality.  There are, though, viable ways to take advantage of your skills and support your own interests—that has been a common thread of my career.  I love reading and books, and that passion led me to work in an industry that supported this interest and sustained me financially.

I recommend making professional choices with criteria such as a company’s reputation or seeking out a particular person from whom you think you can learn a lot.  Work for and with the best people you can, and always try to broaden your outlook and knowledge.   Make the effort to keep up with friends and colleagues from childhood, college and work: the friendships I formed with my business school classmates led to my position at CEE and to my newfound film career.

I am excited about producing additional films as well as continuing my mission driven work at CEE.  By working in both of these worlds I feel so fortunate to have found a happy balance of work that utilizes both my business skills and my creativity.


Julie Ricciardi’s Spiritual Journey from Corporate Executive to Mission Driven Non-Profit Executive

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Theresa Roden: Her Personal Transformation Led to An Inspiring Program for Pre-teen Girls

Karen Catapano: A Career Transformation from Nurse to Goat Farmer!


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