Paula Wagner has worked in the top ranks of the entertainment industry as a film producer, talent agent and studio executive. Currently, she is developing films, theater and television through her production company Chestnut Ridge Productions (CRP).
Wagner began her career at Creative Artists Agency as an agent where she spent 13 years representing some of the major talent in entertainment. In 1993, she launched Cruise/Wagner Productions (C/W) with her former CAA client Tom Cruise. She and Cruise produced a wide range of pictures that earned numerous awards, widespread critical praise and global box office success. The first film released under the C/W banner was the international hit Mission: Impossible, the success of which brought the company the 1997 Nova Award for Most Promising Producers in Theatrical Motion Pictures.
C/W went on to guide such critically acclaimed films such as The Others, The Last Samurai, Vanilla Sky, Without Limits, Shattered Glass and Narc, amongst others. Wagner was also the executive producer of Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds. C/W productions began the Mission: Impossible franchise by producing Mission Impossible I, II and III.
Wagner was co-owner and CEO of United Artists Entertainment, LLC from 2006 to 2008. During her tenure, UA released the Robert Redford political thriller Lions for Lambs and the World War II thriller Valkyrie.
Recently, she produced the acclaimed movie Marshall, starring Chadwick Boseman, Josh Gad and Kate Hudson, through her company, Chestnut Ridge Productions. Currently, Wagner is developing a feature on Sylvia Robinson, the mother of hip-hop, and developing TV series, as well as a Broadway adaptation of Stanley Kramer’s High Noon written by Eric Roth and to be directed by Michael Arden. This will mark the first western drama to go to Broadway in over 83 years.
Additionally, she was an executive producer on the critically acclaimed and award-winning Lifetime original movie Five, five short films directed by five female directors. Wagner produced The Governors Awards ceremony for the Motion Picture Academy in 2013 and produced both the 2011 and 2012 Producers Guild Awards show.
Broadway producing credits include the new hit, Pretty Woman: The Musical which is now touring the U.S. and playing on the West End in London; The Heiress starring Jessica Chastain and David Strathairn; Grace starring Paul Rudd and Michael Shannon; and Terrence McNally’s Tony-nominated play, Mothers and Sons.
Wagner was honored by Premiere magazine with the Women in Hollywood Icon Award in 2001. The following year she was featured in Bravo’s “Women on Top,” a documentary that profiled exceptional women in entertainment. In October of 2006, she received the Sherry Lansing award from the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Organization. She was also honored by the Costume Designers Guild with its Swarovski President’s Award in 2008, in 2011, she earned the Chicago Film Festival’s Renaissance Award, and was honored at the Deauville American Film Festival in 2012. She was one of the recipients of the Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Awards in 2016, and the Cameraimage Producer with Unique Visual Sensitivity award in 2017.
Wagner is a member of AMPAS, PGA, Broadway League and an ambassador of ReFrame for Women in Film, a formal action plan to further gender parity in the media industry.
Wagner serves on the board of Carnegie Mellon University, where she received her degree and is an adjunct faculty member in the MEIM program through the Heinz School of Public Policy. She is a member of the American Cinematheque’s Board of Directors as well.
Prior to her career as an agent and producer, Wagner began as an actress and performed both on and off-Broadway, and was a member of the Yale Repertory Company. She is also a published playwright, co-authoring the feminist play Out of Our Father’s House.