HRTS Member Spotlight: Philippe Maigret, ITV Studios America

Philippe Maigret is President of ITV Studios America and an HRTS Board Member.
He recently spoke with JHRTS LA Board Member Zach Jacobs about culture, COVID, crisis and Back To The Future.

Please tell us a bit of your background and how/why you came to work in the entertainment industry?

From my name and my accent, you can tell I’m French, I grew up in the suburbs of Paris. A key component of my MBA curriculum was a three-month internship at a consultant firm, working for the French broadcast television network, LA CINQ. That experience made me change my plans from work in investment banking and to doing everything I possibly could to work in the entertainment industry. I had always watched a lot of TV as a kid and teenager. As a young adult, I continued consuming a lot of media. I still do, not only because I have to professionally, but because I enjoy it. And I continue to believe in the power of the media to entertain, to educate, to inform. I believe in storytelling. I feel very privileged in my job to make a living by helping talent tell stories and helping their stories to find an audience around the world.

What was your first experience with HRTS? 

I had attended a few HRTS events, including the Newsmaker Luncheons, when I moved back to Los Angeles in 2006. I must credit Kevin Beggs, whom I met with in 2011 right after I launched Endemol Studios, for encouraging me to join HRTS and have my team utilize HRTS as a platform to communicate to the community that Endemol, a leader in unscripted television, was moving into scripted. HRTS has always been a place for the community to come together. For professionals, either in the entry level positions or very senior executives, to share thoughts, discuss opportunities and the challenges of the business, and, of course, to network. I think it is the premier platform for industry professionals to connect. Most importantly, HRTS’ industry-wide mentorship program is something that I have enjoyed being a part of for seven consecutive years.

Your HRTS Board of Directors profile states you’re an avid tennis player. Do you take any of your learnings on the tennis court into the boardroom with you? 

Some of them, yes. But only some because I was never a great tennis player. I hope that I am a better executive than I am a tennis player otherwise my team will be in a tough spot. That said, I think consistency is one trait that translates well. I also think that to be successful in tennis you have to be resilient, both physically and mentally. I find resilience to be a skill or quality that is important in leadership for an executive. Also, in the corporate world, you work with people with all kinds of differing personalities. Some people are like Bjorn Borg, incredibly calm and sometimes seemingly cold. Other times you work with people like John McEnroe who need to be angry to perform, who use anger as a fuel. So, a lot of the behavior that you will see on the tennis court, good and bad, you will see in companies too.

How has ITV adapted to the COVID environment and how has the pandemic tested your abilities as a leader?

The management of ITV in the U.K. provided us with resources and tools to do the best we could to navigate through the pandemic. Medical expertise, production protocols, guidance in new ways of working, and sharing best practices from everything that we were learning across our global network, proved to be very valuable. And then, the financial resources that we needed to continue investing in development, grow the creative infrastructure with new creative labels, and try to not lose momentum after five great years of starting from a blank page and building the business into something meaningful.

Most importantly, everyone in the team jumped in despite their personal challenges and we created a number of programs: wellness programs, speaker series, happy hours, programming discussions and conversations to better get to know our colleagues, to ensure that every team member would continue to connect with the larger group and feel a part of a greater community. It was important for all of us to remain engaged in the business we were building and to protect the culture we have been fostering.

I’m very proud of the work that the team has put in these past months at a time when everybody was also dealing with a number of home issues. The levels of pressure and anxiety have been unlike anything that I have ever seen before. And as a leader, I think at a time of crisis, when you face stress and fear, you need to be available to your team, to the people you work with and in your community. You need to demonstrate care, compassion, and to communicate consistently with trust and honesty. You need to stand by your promises and inspire confidence. That way your colleagues can trust that you will put their safety and their well-being first and that you trust them to be doing their very best.

Coming from France to Los Angeles to work in the media business, what culture shock, if any, did you experience during that transition?

Well, the first thing that I experienced when I went to New York in 1989 after I graduated business school was that my English was not as good as I thought it was. I went to see Back to the Future Part II in theaters and had the rude awakening of not being able to understand the dialogue at all.

What’s it like being a European in a leadership position, at a European company with a focus on North America? Any added perspective?

When I started at ITV, I was introduced as “born in France, charged with building a US business for a British company.” I think that the time that I lived in France, as well as the three years I spent in London mid-way through my time in the US, and my 25 years in the US, have helped me to become culturally versatile and to effectively develop cross-cultural skills that are real, authentic, and rooted in real work and life experiences. It helps me connect and communicate with colleagues, with creative and business partners, as well as with people from very different cultural backgrounds and origins. It also helps me run a business where success often requires global distribution.

How long have you been waiting for the golden age of international television consumption that is currently being observed in the United States?

Well, I was expecting British television series and even non-English television programing to find a home in the US, maybe 15-20 years ago after HBO launched Sopranos, which changed drama television forever. There had certainly been a number of international films that had been successful in the US – critically and at the box office – but I think it is the explosive growth in the demand of original scripted content in the US, first from cable networks and then from the streaming services that brought the television without borders revolution. Suddenly, the audience’s appetite started to change, opening up to stories, to characters, to themes, talent, regardless of where they came from. The expansion of digital media gave all of us in America access to more content, from more sources across more platforms than ever before. That essentially liberated the audience from only watching the shows that were programmed for us at the time when they were programmed for us.

Can you detail for us a professional milestone or milestones that you hit, where it solidified in your mind that you had made it or were on your way to great success? 

It’s funny because I still feel that it is pretentious and dangerous in this business to say that you’ve made it. That is the last thing you say before something terrible happens to you. I first moved to L.A. in 1992 with a French university degree working for StudioCanal, a French company. It became very clear to me that it would take time to build the credentials, the relationships necessary to build a life for myself here in L.A. It wasn’t until I landed a job at DreamWorks in 1996, which at the time was what people said would be the studio of the 21st century, that I felt that I had graduated and that suddenly I had credentials. I felt like I had just walked through the gates of Ellis Island and that I was now allowed and able to have a shot at the great American Dream.

What’s your secret for keeping organized? 

The only answer is my husband.

What aspects of ITV Studio America’s current business excite you the most? 

I am excited that our partners at Tomorrow Studios, Marty Adelstein and Becky Clements, have launched the first US franchise for ITV Studios, Snowpiercer. I’m excited for the upcoming premieres of Physical (Apple TV+) and Cowboy Be (Netflix), which The Hollywood Reporter listed as some of the most exciting series to premiere in 2021. I can’t wait to see the projects that our partners are developing at Tomorrow Studios, Circle of Confusion Television Studios, and Bedrock Entertainment get off the ground. I’m excited with Work Friends, the new adult animation studio label that we set up as a joint venture between Tomorrow Studios and Nick Weidenfeld. The label is growing very quickly. Their first production, 10 Year Old Tom for HBO Max, will drop later this year. We were talking about the golden age of international television or television without borders. I’m excited that ITV Studios is so well positioned to take advantage of this new era of television with a growing global development and production network.

You just mentioned a couple of companies with which ITV has partnerships. You represent ITV on the board of multiple joint ventures. Can you speak to the strategic importance of partnering and joint ventures? What do you look for in a partner? 

We launched our U.S. scripted television business in 2015 under a group operational structure, taking a page out of the way ITV Studios was operating in the UK. Most importantly, we launched drama labels set up as joint ventures that function as our creative engine. The labels are run by entrepreneurial creatives with recognized producing skills with a track record of success. They develop projects autonomously with financing and infrastructure provided by ITV studios. The plan was to build ITV Studios in the US quickly, organically, led by the creative, with an eye to achieving the appropriate level of scale. We spend quite a bit of time discussing objectives, values, strengths, weaknesses, and culture to make sure that there is alignment and to make sure that a commitment makes sense and feels right on both sides. I think it’s really important for us to bring in people who want to get the most out of the global ITV Studios platform, that understand the value of that platform.

What has gotten you excited of late?

I’m curious to see how technology will change and redefine how the audience connects with a story or with characters. Whether we can improve the viewer’s experience, whether we can make stories more powerful, more meaningful, for example, through VR. I think that we are quite a few years away, a few rounds of innovation away on hardware and software from Oculus or Sony before we can see a really exciting proposition emerge and change the game.

Is there a piece of advice from a mentor or a colleague that stuck with you through the years that you would like to share with the HRTS Membership?

A colleague once shared the following Babe Ruth quote with me, “Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.” To me, this quote talks to the importance of authenticity, of courage, and of inspiring trust so that talent, whether the talent in the company or the creative talent you work with on projects, can feel safe to do their best work and feel safe to innovate.


Zachary Jacobs is currently a JHRTS Board Member. He serves as Manager of Business Operations at Stampede Ventures. Prior to joining Stampede Ventures, Zach was most recently a coordinator in the Motion Picture Production Department at ICM Partners, having previously worked as an agent trainee in the TV Literary Department. He began his career as an analyst in Cantor Fitzgerald’s Private Wealth Management business and then worked as a trader on Cantor Fitzgerald’s Equity Derivatives and Market Strategy trading desk. Zach graduated from Haverford College with a B.A. in Political Science. Zach can be reached at